Divorce is more than just ending your marriage. If you intend to file for divorce in Wichita, KS, it’s vital to understand what divorce entails, the various stages of the process you will need to complete, and your options for resolving the issues your divorce entails. It’s also essential to acknowledge the value of legal counsel on your side no matter how you and your spouse decide to complete your divorce.
Every marriage is unique; therefore, every divorce will unfold differently. However, while your divorce is sure to include a wide range of deeply personal matters and complex details, every divorce filed in Wichita, KS, must address a few key issues. Preparing for these foundational elements of the divorce process with the help of an experienced attorney can significantly streamline your divorce proceedings.
Child Custody in Kansas
If you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse have children, resolving child custody is the most critical issue your divorce entails. The family court judge overseeing your divorce must evaluate multiple factors to determine custody or visitation rights. If both parents are proven safe and fit to raise their children, both have the right to claim custody. Most family court judges in Wichita, KS, will strive to minimally disrupt the lives and daily routines of children their rulings effect, so joint custody orders are standard for divorcing Wichita parents.
Child custody involves two types of custody: physical custody and legal custody. Physical custody refers to where the children spend their time. For example, if the children live primarily with one parent and only visit the other parent on weekends or holidays, the parent with whom they live is said to be the custodial parent, and the other parent is the noncustodial parent. Legal custody refers to the ability to make crucial decisions on a child’s behalf. Parents can share legal custody, but one of the parents may assume sole physical custody based on the needs of the children.
Child support determinations also unfold under the direction of family court judges, and a judge bases their determination on the custody rights of the divorcing parents and various economic factors. First, the judge will calculate the total support obligation shared by both parents and divide it in half to determine each parent’s respective support obligation. For example, the parent with more significant physical custody typically receives child support from the other parent. However, if both parents share physical custody 50/50, then the lower-earning parent will receive child support from the higher-earning parent.
Another contentious issue that must be resolved in every divorce is property division. The divorcing spouses can keep their respective separate property, but all marital property must be equitably divided. “Equitable” is an important distinction, as unlike in community property states, equitable distribution states require the fairest, but not necessarily equal, division of marital property in a divorce.
If a couple handles their divorce through litigation, the judge has the final say regarding the most equitable division of their marital assets and debts. Both spouses must submit financial disclosure statements, which detail their separate property holdings and marital property records, for the judge to evaluate. Separate property typically includes assets owned by a spouse before they were married and gifts and inheritance they received from family. Marital property includes income and property acquired by the spouses during their marriage and any jointly held assets. If a spouse owned something before marriage but had their spouse sign on as a joint owner of the asset, the asset likely qualifies as marital property in a divorce.
Spousal support, also called alimony, is money paid by one spouse to another each month to provide the recipient with the financial assistance needed to maintain a standard of living similar to what they had while they were married. In most equitable distribution states, family court judges prefer assigning more significant shares of property rather than setting up long-term spousal support arrangements. However, spousal support can come into play for various reasons.
If one spouse was entirely dependent on the other spouse’s income, has limited job experience or formal education, or has a disability that prevents them from earning income, the judge handling their case may award alimony as a matter of necessity.
How Can I Resolve These Issues in My Divorce?
Most people imagine tense court proceedings when they think of divorce, but you don’t necessarily need to resolve your divorce through litigation. Many divorcing couples choose alternative dispute resolution to save time and money on their divorces and to exert more control over the outcome of their divorce orders. Alternative dispute resolution, such as collaborative divorce and mediation, has recently become the preferred method for settling divorces in the US.
In collaborative divorce, the divorcing spouses and their respective attorneys meet privately to negotiate a divorce settlement. Mediation is a similar process, but it unfolds under the supervision and direction of a neutral mediator, a family law professional tasked with helping the couple draft a legally binding and mutually agreeable divorce settlement. As a result, most couples can settle their divorces through alternative dispute resolution much more quickly than litigation permits.
While alternative dispute resolution may be the most attractive option for settling your divorce in Wichita, this route does have limitations. You and your spouse will not be able to resolve child custody or child support through alternative dispute resolution. A family court judge must approve your custody and support determination to ensure it suits the best interests of your children.
Every divorce case is unique, and it can be difficult for anyone to determine the best approach to this kind of emotionally stressful situation. However, an experienced family law attorney is an invaluable asset no matter how you choose to settle your divorce. If you are unsure of what to expect in your divorce, it’s a good idea to consult an experienced Wichita, KS, divorce lawyer as soon as possible to start reviewing your legal options.