Whether you have a paternity case or a divorce case, it is important to understand the difference between legal custody and residency in any domestic matter.

In Kansas, legal custody refers to the designation of parental responsibilities for a child. Parental responsibilities include decision making involving health, education, religious training, and general welfare of the child. In Kansas, there are two types of legal custody:

1) Joint legal custody provides both parents with the responsibility of making decisions regarding the health, education, religious training, and general welfare of their child. This is the most common type of legal custody.

2) Sole legal custody provides one parent sole authority to make decisions regarding the health, education, religious training, and general welfare of the child. Sole legal custody is rare, and the court must state specific reasons why sole legal custody should be granted in a particular case.

In Kansas, residency refers to the physical placement of the child. That is, it refers to where the child will live. In Kansas, a judge may order various types of residency:

1) Primary residency: A judge may order that one parent be designated Primary Residential Custodian, meaning the child lives with that parent a majority of the time. The other parent is referred to as the non-custodial parent. The non-custodial parent spends parenting time with the child as outlined in a parenting plan. This is the most common type of residency arrangement.

2) Shared residency: A judge may order that each parent shall have equal parenting time,
meaning that the child will spend half of his time with each parent. Courts like to order shared residency if both parents communicate well with one another and have demonstrated an ability to co-parent well.

3) Divided residency: For families with multiple children, a judge may order that one child live with one parent and the other child live with the other parent. This type of residency is only used in circumstances in which the court finds it is in the best interests of the children to divide residency.

Non-custodial parents with joint legal custody are often unaware that they have the same decision making rights as parents with primary residential custody. In any domestic case involving children, it is important for you to understand the difference between custody and residency so you can follow court orders and exercise your parenting rights. For more information on this topic, contact Julia Craft, Kristine Savage, or Rebecca Sisk at our Wichita (316-262-9393), Topeka (785-234-3272), or Lawrence (785-856-0143) offices.

By Chris Joseph

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