Know the Laws: Kansas
UPDATED August 3, 2016
This section provides information about custody, residency, and parenting time in Kansas.
In Kansas, legal custody deals with dividing up parenting responsibilities between parents, including decision-making rights and responsibilities on matters of health, education and welfare.* Custody should not be confused with residency, which involves the physical placement of the child (the actual address of the child). Custody and residency are two separate things.
In Kansas, there are two types of custody:
If you are granted joint legal custody of your child, both parents have the right to make the following types of decisions:
Joint legal custody is preferred in Kansas. If a judge decides to grant sole legal custody, it must specifically say in the court record why this decision was made and why it is in the best interests of the child.**
If you are granted sole legal custody, you alone can make these decisions but the other parent can still access information regarding the child unless a judge orders otherwise.***
After legal custody is decided, the court will decide the residency of the child. See What is residency and who can get it? for more information.
A judge may also give you parenting time. Parenting time is when you have the legal right to visit your child. Go to What is parenting time? for more information.
* K.S.A. § 23-2311(c)
** K.S.A. § 23-3206
*** K.S.A. § 23-3206(b)
Residency is a legal order establishing who your child will live with. A judge may order that your child live with you full-time or part-time. In an exceptional case, the court may order "divided residency," which is when one or more children reside with each parent and have parenting time with the other.* Kansas does not have a preference about whether a child will live with one or both parents. A judge will make this decision based on the best interests of the child and on whether the parents can agree on a parenting plan. During the time that your child lives with you, you are responsible for his/her physical care and supervision.
If the judge decides that neither parent is fit to have residency, the judge can order that temporary residency be given to a grandparent, aunt, uncle, adult sibling, or
another person or agency if:
A parenting plan is a written agreement between you and the child’s other parent. A parenting plan is always required in Kansas as part of a custody order, so if you and the other parent cannot agree on one, a judge will make one for you. Even if you cannot agree on a parenting plan with the other parent, you will still be asked to suggest your own parenting plan.
There are two types of parenting plans: temporary and permanent.
A temporary parenting plan will be created (by you or the judge) for the period of time between when you file for custody and get your final custody order. After you write up a temporary parenting plan, you must file it with the court and give a copy to the other parent or the other parent’s attorney. A temporary parenting plan must address:
Parenting time is the right to visit your child. Even if you are not granted legal custody or residency, you may still get parenting time. This means that you would still be able to visit your child even if your child does not live with you or you are not granted the right to make decisions affecting your child’s life. The times, dates and conditions of your parenting time will be included in your parenting plan.
A parent is entitled to reasonable parenting time unless the judge finds, after a hearing, that parenting time would seriously endanger the child's physical, mental, moral or emotional health.*
*K.S.A. § 23-3208(a)
WomensLaw.org would like to thank Pamela Burrough Jacobs, Immigration Project Attorney at the Kansas Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence for her help in revising this section.