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Legal Information: Kansas


Laws current as of November 15, 2023

Can I file for custody in Kansas?

You would usually file for custody in the “home state” of the child. Generally, Kansas would qualify as your child’s “home state” if the child has lived in Kansas with a parent or a person acting as a parent for at least the past six months. If your child is less than six months old, then your child’s home state is the state where s/he has lived since birth. Leaving the state for a short period of time does not change your child’s home state.

You may also start a custody case in a Kansas court if Kansas was your child’s “home state” in the six months before going to court and at least one parent or a “person acting as a parent” still lives in Kansas even if your child does not.1

There are exceptions to the “home state” rule though. In some cases, you can file for custody in a state where the children and at least one parent have “significant connections.” Usually, however, you can only do this if there is no home state or if the home state has agreed to let another state hear the case.2 This can be complicated, and if you think this applies to your situation, please talk to a lawyer in both states about this. For a list of legal resources, please see our KS Places that Help page.

You can also file for temporary emergency custody in a state other than the home state if:

  • the child is present in the state; and
  • the child has been abandoned or it is necessary in an emergency to protect the child because the child, a sibling, or a parent of the child is subjected to or threatened with mistreatment or abuse.3

1 Kan. Stat. § 23-37,201(a)(1)
2 See Kan. Stat. § 23-37,201
3 Kan. Stat. § 23-37,204(a)

How can I get temporary custody?

A parent could file for temporary custody as part of a custody proceeding as long as the parent files a proposed temporary parenting plan at the same time. The judge can approve a temporary parenting plan that includes one or more of the following:

  • who gets temporary legal custody of the child;
  • who gets temporary residence for the child;
  • allocation of parental rights and responsibilities regarding matters pertaining to the child’s health, education and welfare; and
  • a schedule for the child’s time with each parent, when appropriate.1

You can also ask for temporary custody, residency, and/or parenting time as part of an emergency or temporary protection from abuse order.2 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.3

1 Kan. Stat. § 23-3212(b), (c)
2 Kan. Stat. §§ 60-3106(b); 60-3107(a)(4); 60-3105
3 Kan. Stat. § 60-3106(b)

How will a judge make a decision about legal custody, residency, and parenting time?

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. The judge must consider the following factors:

  • each parent’s role and involvement with the minor child before and after separation of the parents;
  • what type of custody and residency the child wants, if the child is of sufficient age and maturity to offer an opinion;
  • what type of custody and residency the child’s parents want;
  • the age of the child;
  • the emotional and physical needs of the child;
  • the relationship that the child has with each parent, sibling, and any other person who may significantly affect the child’s best interests;
  • how the child has adjusted to his/her home, school and community;
  • whether each parent is willing and able to respect and appreciate the bond between the child and the other parent and to allow for a continuing relationship between them;
  • evidence of domestic abuse, either emotional or physical;
  • the ability of the parties to communicate, cooperate, and manage parental duties;
  • the school activity schedule of the child;
  • the work schedule of the parties;
  • the location of the child’s school;
  • the location of the parties’ homes and places of employment;
  • if a parent is a registered sex offender or is living with someone who is;
  • if a parent has been convicted of child abuse or is living with someone who has been; and
  • any other relevant factor.1

1 Kan. Stat. § 23-3203(a)

Is there a fee to file for custody?

You can file for child custody as part of a divorce, protection order, or “parentage” action. A parentage action would be filed if your child was born out of wedlock and you or the other parent are seeking to legally establish who the child’s father is.

If you are filing for custody as part of a divorce or 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 in court.1

1 Kan. Stat. § 60-2001(b)

Do I need a lawyer?

It is highly recommended that you get a lawyer if you can, especially if the other parent has one. You can find free or low-cost legal help, as well as the Bar Association’s private attorney referral service, on our KS Finding a Lawyer page.

If you are going to be in court without a lawyer, our Preparing for Court – By Yourself section may be useful to you.

Can I change the state where my case is being heard?

For information on trying to transfer a custody case to another state/ changing a final custody order a different state, please see our Changing a final custody order page. This is often complicated, and as with all custody issues, we recommend that you talk to a lawyer about this. To find a lawyer or legal aid program in your area, please visit the KS Finding a Lawyer page.