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Kansas Court Records

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How to File For Divorce in Kansas

In Kansas, divorce court proceedings are governed by statutes and court rule, and under the jurisdiction of the District Courts. A divorce case commences when a married individual (plaintiff or petitioner) files an action against a spouse (defendant or respondent) to sever marriage ties. A filing party will be expected to submit other forms and documents as well. These documents may vary by case, county, and if there are minor children in the marriage. Therefore, petitioners are advised to gather necessary information and prepare relevant documents or paperwork before initiating divorce suits. Information that is typically required includes:

  • Assets list: car titles, financial accounts, real/personal properties, pensions/retirement accounts
  • Monthly expenses: utilities, insurance, rent/mortgage, medical, gas, food, prescriptions, monthly payments to financial institutions, support payments/contributions
  • Social security numbers
  • List of debts
  • Birth dates of the filing party, spouse, and child(ren)
  • Marriage date
  • States of birth
  • Employer information (name and address)
  • Monthly income
  • Relevant contact information, including residential addresses of family members

Necessary paperwork will include bank account statements/information, tax returns, credit card statements, and salary statements (payslips). Most of these documents will need to be fairly recent or current.

Pursuant to 23–2703 of the Kansas Family Law Code, petitioners must also meet residency requirements of the state to file for divorce, and custody criteria for the court to issue orders concerning minors. The legal process for divorce may either be simple or complicated based on the components or factors of a case, that is why filing spouses are advised to study Kansas divorce law, court rules, and procedures, or retain the services of an experienced attorney.

Do I Need a Reason for Divorce in Kansas?

Yes, an individual will need to state a legal reason to obtain a decree of divorce in Kansas. According to K. S.A 23–2701, there are 3 reasons or grounds by which a court may grant a divorce decree, namely:

  • Incompatibility (no-fault)
  • Incompatibility (mental illness/incapacity)
  • Failure to perform a significant marital responsibility

A court will only accept the reason of incompatibility due to mental illness or incapacity if a spouse has been interned in a mental institution for 2 years or adjudicated of mental illness or incapacity by a court during internment. Furthermore, at least 2 of 3 court-appointed physicians must find that such a person is possibly beyond recovery.

The records contained in documents related to family court include both marriage and divorce records. Both types of records contain information that is considered very personal to the parties involved, and it is recommended that those parties maintain these records with care in order to make changes in the future. The personal nature of these records results in both being considerably more difficult to find and obtain when compared to other types of public records. In many cases, these records are not available through either government sources or third party public record websites.

Why do I Need a Divorce Lawyer?

A divorce is a life-altering and emotional process which can trigger anxiety, depression, and bitterness in spouses or their children (if any). Litigants may find that the services of a divorce lawyer comes in handy not only when trying to understand case procedures and knowing one’s legal rights and obligations, but also for several reasons. These reasons include interfacing with the other spouse or spouse’s attorney to discuss settlements; circumventing errors that may result in displeasing dispositions; filing the appropriate legal forms, documents, and paperwork; and attending court hearings.

How do I Get Started in a Divorce in Kansas?

The first step to starting a divorce case in Kansas is to file a suit with the District Court. The court where the case is filed must be located in the county where any of the spouses reside. A petitioner is required to have been living in the state for 60 days before filing an action.

The forms to be filed will differ if the filing party has children of the marriage or not, and must follow the local court rules of the particular court, else the divorce case cannot be concluded.

Filing A Divorce

A spouse must complete and file a divorce petition stating the reasons for divorce and names/dates of birth of minor children (if any), as well as other required documents with the Clerk of the District Court such as:

  • The Domestic Relations Affidavit (DRA)
  • Civil Cover Sheet
  • Proposed Parenting Plan (for petitioners with kids)
  • Request for Service Instruction Form

The petitioner is also required to pay a filing fee. The Domestic Relations Affidavit can be filed along with the other documents or before the set date for the court hearing. However, the Petition for Divorce must be signed before a notary public, who can be found in a law firm, courthouse, title company, or financial establishment like a bank. A petitioner must file the original documents/forms and a specific number of copies with the Clerk of Court. Inquiries on the number of copies to be filed, as well as the filing fee amount, may be directed to the Clerk or found in the court’s local rules. Individuals who are unable to pay the filing fee may file a Poverty Affidavit instead.

When the necessary documents have been filed, a case number is generated and given to the petitioner, and the party is required to inform the other spouse (respondent) of the divorce action. This notification may be done per K. S.A Article 3, Chapter 60 in the following ways:

  • By service through a sheriff’s office. A Request for Service and Instruction Form may be submitted in this regard. There is a service fee attached for the execution of this request if the respondent lives within the State. Typically, the Clerk of Court will provide this fee amount. However, if the respondent lived outside Kansas, the petitioner has to find out the service fee from the local sheriff’s office
  • Having the spouse sign a Voluntary Entry of Appearance with a notary public present who will confirm that the respondent received the divorce petition. Afterward, this Entry of Appearance must be filed with the Clerk of Court
  • Mailing the divorce petition and summons by certified mail to the respondent. Afterward, the return receipt (green card) received from the United States Postal Service must be filed with the Clerk of Court before the hearing date. It serves as proof of mailing
  • When any of the three options above are not possible, a petitioner may request to publish a notice in a local newspaper by filing an Affidavit of Service by Publication. Once a judge has signed an order permitting this service, it must follow notification procedures outlined in K. S. A. 60–307. The petitioner must also remember to ask the newspaper for proof of publication and file that document with the Clerk of Court

When filing is completed, the Clerk of Court may be contacted for the time and date of the final hearing. The respondent can be notified of the hearing date with a copy of the Notice of Hearing, preferably sent by certified mail in order to obtain a return receipt. The original Notice of Hearing and proof of notice must be filed with the Clerk of Court. No Kansas Court can hear a divorce case unless at least 60 days have passed since the filing of the divorce petition, unless in emergencies. A plaintiff is required to attend the hearing with the following completed documents:

  • Decree of Divorce and copies (at least 3). A plaintiff without children must complete paragraphs 9, 12 to 15, and 17 of this decree before the hearing. Whereas a plaintiff with children must complete the 8, 12 and 13, 20 to 23, and 25 paragraphs
  • Vital Statistics Form
  • Written and signed agreement for property division (if any)
  • File-stamped copy of the Notice of Hearing
  • Return of Service (applicable if the respondent was served by certified mail)
  • Current Domestic Relations Affidavit
  • Agreed Parenting Plan (for plaintiffs with kids)
  • Child Support Worksheet or Shared Expense Plan (for plaintiffs with kids)
  • Kansas Payment Center Child Support Order Information Sheet Form (for plaintiffs with kids)

A divorce hearing may either be contested or uncontested but will be decided by trial before a judge. This hearing may be concluded quickly in uncontested cases where all papers are in order (within 15 to 20 minutes). Hearing procedures and decree entries are conducted as provided by local court rules. These rules are published on the specific court’s website.

The Kansas judiciary publishes resources on its website where litigants may find legal court forms for divorce (both fillable and non-fillable), as well as helpful information and checklists to further understand divorce actions in the District Courts.

Responding to A Divorce Petition

Respondents may file an answer to a divorce petition in Kansas, although this is not a requirement. The Answer and Domestic Relations Affidavit forms may be filed by parties who object to a divorce petition. However, answers must be signed before a notary public. The opposing spouse is also required to file a Voluntary Entry of Appearance if not filed already. Usually, this response must be filed with the Clerk of Court within 20 days of receiving a service for in-state respondents and 30 days for out-of-state respondents. All documents filed in answer to a petition must also be sent to the plaintiff/plaintiff’s attorney by U.S priority mail (prepaid postage) on the same day of filing.

Whether filing or responding to a divorce action, an individual must know the local court rules concerning divorce, service, time limits, requirements, and fees. In cases where the reason for divorce is incompatibility because of mental illness or incapacity, and both spouses are incapacitated, the guardian of either spouse is authorized to file a petition with the court under K. S.A 23–2701(b). Individuals filing petitions against military spouses in active duty are advised to retain an attorney’s services as there are other necessary legal requirements.

Once a decree has been granted, petitioners must file the original decree and vital statistics form, as well as the parenting plan, if separated, with the Clerk of District Court. It is important to note that a divorce decree only takes effect when it has been filed with the Clerk of the District Court. Throughout the process, petitioners or respondents are advised to make and keep copies of all filed and submitted documents or forms.

How to File for Divorce in Kansas Without a Lawyer?

In Kansas, pro se (self-represented) litigants must adhere to the same processes as with litigants represented by lawyers. Litigants are expected to know the law, court rules, filing/answering fees, forms, and other information necessary to their divorce cases, as the law prohibits court personnel from offering case-related advice, instructions, or recommendations. Also, there are no advantages awarded to self-represented persons under the law. However, under Administrative Order 242, self-represented parties can use basic legal forms provided by the Kansas Judicial Council to file or answer divorce petitions in the District Courts. As an added benefit, the Judicial Council also provides information on the divorce process.

Divorce and marriage records may be available through government sources and organizations, though their availability cannot be guaranteed. This is also true of their availability through third-party websites and companies, as these organizations are not government-sponsored and record availability may vary further. Finally, marriage and divorce records are considered extremely private due to the information they contain and are often sealed. Bearing these factors in mind, record availability for these types of records cannot be guaranteed.

How Does Kansas Divorce Mediation Work?

Parents who filed for divorce in Kansas may be required to complete divorce mediation sessions or parenting classes because of custody or visitation disputes. The requirement for attendance is directed by local court rule and as such, may vary. For example, in the Douglas County District Court, disagreeing parents must participate in mediation sessions, while courts of the 6th Judicial District (Bourbon, Miami, and Linn County) impose mediation only upon request of the parents and provide it at no cost to the parties involved.

How Long After Mediation is Divorce Final in Kansas?

Divorce mediation either imposed by Kansas Courts or requested by disputing litigants must happen before the date of a final hearing is scheduled. Under K. S.A 23–2708, hearing dates cannot be scheduled until 60 days after the date the petition was filed except for emergency hearings requests approved by a judge.

Are Divorce Records Public in Kansas?

The accessibility of Kansas divorce records depends on the government agency with custody and the type of record. In the State, District Courts and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) Office of Vital Statistics (OVS) maintain divorce records. Records (divorce decrees and case records) maintained by the court are open to the public in Kansas under the Kansas Open Records Act. Meanwhile, the OVS furnishes divorce certificates which contain basic information about a case, including parties’ names and divorce dates, only to eligible persons 18 years old or above. These persons include the litigants named on records, their lawyers, immediate family members (siblings, children, aunts/uncles, parents, grandparents, nieces/nephews, and current spouses), and any person who can prove a direct and valid interest.

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:

  • The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
  • The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that person resides in or was accused in.

Third-party sites are independent from government sources, and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.

How do I Get Kansas Divorce Records?

Copies of divorce records maintained by the District Courts can be obtained by request to the offices of the Clerks. The Kansas judiciary provides a list of District Courts on its website. Interested parties may lookup the specific Clerk of Court’s information to make inquiries on obtaining these records at the courthouse and statutory fees to be paid by requesters, or check if ordering guidelines are published on the court’s website. The appropriate Clerk of Court’s office or court is the one where the case was filed. The courts may provide mail, fax, online, and walk-in services to request and obtain records. Fees for requests are established per Supreme Court Rule 1.03. Typically, the fee is 25 cents per page for copies, $10 per certified document, 50 cents for the first 5 pages sent by mail and 25 cents for each page afterward, and 50 cents/page to fax 15 pages. Additionally, the court may charge fees for document preparation.

Though the District Courts provide court records to members of the public through the eCourt Public Access Portal, divorce records are not accessible through this portal per the Supreme Court Rule 22 (c)(6) but may be available at courthouse terminals.

The KDHE Office of Vital Statistics offers certified copies of divorce certificates to eligible parties, as mentioned earlier, via mail, in-person, or telephone services, and the state’s official app (iKAN).. Certificates from July 1, 1951, to date are available from the office. Mail orders can be made using the Application for Certified Copy of Kansas Divorce Certificate Form. The office charges $15 per certified copy and this fee is non-refundable, even if the record cannot be found. Requesters must complete the form, attach acceptable photo identification (front and back), and pay the copy fees. The application form has a list of acceptable IDs. Acceptable payment methods are check or money order made out to the Kansas Vital Statistics. The processing time for mail requests is between 7 to 10 business days.

Individuals who want to request and pay for records using iKAN, online services, or telephone may find relevant ordering information on the Vital Statistics Office’s website. Records of divorce cases finalized before July 1, 1951, may be obtained through the Kansas Historical Society.

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