Legal Information: Kansas


June 21, 2021

Once I have a custody order what can I do to enforce it?

If you have a child custody order, and your child’s other parent refuses to follow it, you can file a “petition for the enforcement of a child-custody determination” with the court.  You will file this type of petition (or paperwork), for example, when the other parent refuses to allow you the parenting time that a court has already given you.

In addition to filing this petition, you must also have a copy served on your child’s other parent.  For more information on serving the petition, we recommend contacting a lawyer.  Please see our Finding a Lawyer page for legal help in Kansas.

Once the petition is filed, a judge will order that the other parent show up at a hearing.  This hearing will normally take place on the next business day after the other parent is served but if you ask for a later hearing date, the judge may give you one.1

At the hearing, if the judge finds the other parent has violated the custody order by not returning the child to you, s/he can punish the other parent for the violation.  It is possible that the judge could order that the child be placed in your immediate custody or, if the other parent says that you abused your child and that is the reason for not returning the child, the judge might order the child into protective custody if s/he believes the allegations of abuse.

1 K.S.A. 38-1365(c)

How can an order of custody, residency or parenting time be changed?

A judge can change an order of custody, residency, or parenting time if you can show that the significant circumstances have changed from when the order was issued.1  The judge may change the order if s/he believes it is in the best interest of the child.  One example of a “change in circumstances” might be when the other parent violates your current custody order or tries to interfere with your rights to see your child.  One thing you can request as part of a modification petition is to ask that court to change the order by making the exchange of the children at a child exchange and visitation center.2  This may be something to consider if domestic violence has occurred during the pick-ups or drop-offs of the children.

To get a custody or residency order changed, you may need to file a “motion to modify a final order pertaining to child custody or residential placement.”  In this motion (legal papers), the will be a place for you to explain how your circumstances have changed.  If a judge finds that your request for a change in your custody order is reasonable, s/he should grant a hearing.  At the end of this hearing, a judge may decide to either change your custody order or keep it the way that it was.

For more information on filing for change in custody, we recommend contacting a lawyer.  Please see our KS Finding a Lawyer page for legal help in your area.

1 K.S.A. § 23-3218(a)
2 K.S.A. § 23-3221

If there is a custody order in place, can I move or take my kids out of the state?

Maybe.  If you want to change the child’s residence (move in-state) or take your child out of Kansas for more than 90 days, you will need to inform your child’s other parent by mail at least 30 days before you plan on moving or leaving the state.  The notice that you send to the other parent must be sent by restricted mail.  This means that you must ask the post office for a “return receipt” so that you can be sure that it arrived.1  If you do not give notice to your child’s other parent, you may possibly be breaking the law and can be punished.  You may also have to pay the other parent for his/her attorney’s fees.2  However, if you have legal custody or residency of the child, you are not required to give this type of notice to the other parent when the other parent has been convicted of any of the following crimes in which the child is the victim of such crime:

  • violent crimes, listed here (chapter 21, article 54);
  • sex offenses, listed here (chapter 21, article 55);
  • crimes against children, listed here (chapter 21, article 56);
  • unlawful disclosure of tax information (21-6104);
  • unlawful interference with a firefighter (21-6325);
  • unlawful interference with an emergency medical services attendant (21-6326);
  • permitting a dangerous animal to be at large (21-6418);
  • prostitution (21-6419);
  • promoting prostitution (21-6420);
  • patronizing a prostitute (21-6421); or
  • commercial sexual exploitation of a child (21-6422).3

If you believe that the other parent was convicted of one of these crimes listed above, we suggest confirming with an attorney that you are not required to give notice.  You can find legal referrals on our KS Finding a Lawyer page. 

Note: The other parent can ask the court to change the existing order of custody, residency, child support or parenting time based on your planned move.  When deciding whether to change the order, the judge will consider:

  • how move affects the best interests of the child;
  • how the move affects the rights of the other parent or anyone else with rights to the child;
  • how much more money the move would cost the other parent when seeing the child.4

We recommend getting an attorney to help you before you try to file anything.  Please see KS Finding a Lawyer page for legal help in your area.

1 K.S.A. § 23-3222(a)
2 K.S.A. § 23-3222(b)
3 K.S.A. § 23-3222(d)
4 K.S.A. § 23-3222(c)

Can I get financial support for my children and myself?

Maybe.  It is important to know that the court makes separate decisions when awarding support for you and your children, so it is possible that you may only be able to get support for your children, and not for yourself.  It is also possible that you can get both.

Support for your child:
As long as paternity is established and your child lives with you, you are entitled to receive support for your child until the child turns 18.  Establishing paternity means that your child’s biological father is recognized by the court as the “legal father.”  If you were not married to the child’s father, you can establish paternity by filing “parentage” action in court.   When an order is issued, you might be able to get additional support dating back to the birth of the child.1  If you were married when the child was born or conceived, paternity is assumed.2  You can file for child support if you no longer live with your husband or you may also get child support as part of your divorce.

Child support may continue beyond age 18 if:

  • the child is still in high school, the support would continue until the end of the school year when the child turns 18 or 19 or
  • the parents agree in writing to support the child after s/he turns 18 and this agreement is approved by the court.3

For more information on how to establish paternity, we recommend contacting a lawyer.  Please see our KS Finding a Lawyer page for legal help in your area. 

In deciding how much child support to give, some things a judge will look at are:

  • The needs of your child including the educational need and ability
  • The age of your child
  • How much you and child’s other parent earn or are capable of earning and how much money each of you have
  • The standards of living and circumstances of the parents
  • Whether or not the parents also have to support other people
  • Whether or not your child has money or could earn any money
  • The value of services contributed by both parents.4

Support for yourself:
If you are in the process of getting a divorce, a judge may order your former spouse to provide you with continuing financial support, also known as “maintenance.”  A judge will decide how much maintenance to give you based on what s/he thinks is fair under the circumstances but the payments will not last longer than 121 months (approximately 10 years).5

1 K.S.A. § 38-1121(f)
2 K.S.A. § 38-1114(a)(1)
3 K.S.A. § 38-1121(c)
4 K.S.A. § 38-1121(g)
5 K.S.A. § 23-2904

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