Know the Laws: Kansas
UPDATED August 3, 2016
This section provides information about custody, residency, and parenting time in Kansas.
In Kansas, you will generally file for custody as part of either:
Maybe. In Kansas, you can ask for temporary custody, residency, and/or parenting time as part of an emergency or temporary protection from abuse order.* However, the judge will not change an existing order of legal custody, residency, visitation or parenting time unless there is sworn testimony at a hearing that convinces a judge that there is a good cause or reason to do so.**
If you get temporary custody as part of a protection from abuse order, it is possible that the judge may grant parenting time to the other parent. This means that your child’s other parent may be able to continue visiting your child while you have a protection from abuse order against him/her.
For more information on how to ask for temporary custody as part of your “protection from abuse” order, we recommend that you talk to a lawyer. Please visit our Finding a Lawyer page for legal help in Kansas. If you want to learn more about how to get a protection from abuse order, you can also visit our Protection from Abuse Orders page.
* K.S.A. §§ 60-3106(b); 60-3107(a)(4); 60-3105
** K.S.A. § 60-3106(b)
A judge will make a custody, residency, or parenting time order based on what s/he thinks is in the best interest of the child. This is a list of some factors that a judge must consider when making a decision - however, these are not the only things the judge will consider. Anything else that is "relevant" should be considered as well:
* K.S.A. § 23-3203(a)
Maybe. A judge may consider which parent has been taking care of the children since you moved out as an important factor when making a custody decision. Furthermore, after a parent files a petition for divorce, annulment or separate maintenance, the judge can make an ex parte order regarding the legal custody, residency, and parenting time with the minor children that lasts during the court proceeding.* It is important to note that the judge is not supposed to issue an ex parte order that changes the residency of the child from the parent who has had, in effect, sole residency of the child unless there is sworn testimony to support a showing of extraordinary circumstances.** The judge may or may not agree that the domestic violence you experienced is an extraordinary circumstance.
A judge may also consider how long you have been out of the home and that fact that you left your children with someone who is abusive. If you are thinking about leaving your children with an abuser.
* K.S.A. § 60-1607(a)(3)
** K.S.A. § 60-1607(b)
In Kansas, you can file for child custody either as part of a divorce, protection order, or as part of a “parentage” action. A parentage action would be filed when the child was born out of wedlock and the judge would legally establish that your child’s biological father is the child's "legal father."
If you are filing for custody as part of a divorce or a “parentage” action, there will be a fee. You will need to contact the clerk of court to find out what it costs to file. However, if you cannot afford to pay the fee, you might be able to qualify for a waiver of the fee by filling out a poverty affidavit (sworn statement) in court.*
* K.S.A. § 60-2001(b)
It is highly recommended that you get a lawyer if you can, especially if the other parent has one. If you cannot afford a lawyer, you may want to contact Kansas Legal Services at 1-800-723-6953. They may be able to offer you legal advice and /or representation by an attorney at little or no cost. To get an attorney through Kansas Legal Services, you generally must show that you income is below a certain level. Another place to find free or low-cost legal help is on our KS Finding a Lawyer page.
Courts generally are unable to help with the process of filing for custody. A lawyer will most likely need to help you through the process. Even if you plan on representing yourself, you should consider having a lawyer review your papers before you file them.
Mediation is a when both parties meet with a neutral third party (called a mediator) for the purposes of reaching an agreement based on decision made by the parties, not by the mediator.* For cases involving child custody, residency (which parent the child will live with), and parenting time (visitation), you can either ask for mediation or the judge may order it if both parents are unable to agree on how you will share child custody, residency, and parenting time and have not yet agreed on a parenting plan (see What is a parenting plan? for more information)
A judge may decide not to send you to mediation if there has been a history of child abuse or domestic violence, but it is still possible.
If a judge orders mediation for your child custody case, it will take place before your custody hearing in court. During the mediation, the mediator might decide to meet with the children. If the mediation is successful and you reach an agreement with the other party on child custody, residency and/or a parenting time schedule, your mediator will put the agreement in writing and give it to the judge for approval. If the judge approves the written agreement, s/he will include it in your final custody order.**
* K.S.A. § 23-601
** See K.S.A. § 23-603
Generally, the parents are expected to pay for mediation. A judge will order how much each parent needs to pay for the mediation if both parents have not yet agreed on how to split the costs.*
* K.S.A. § 23-607
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.