Kansas Child Custody Questions

Kansas child custody attorneys provide answers to frequently asked questions about Kansas child custody laws and how custody is decided in Kansas.

Who will get custody of our child?

Courts in Kansas will determine custody according to what is in the child’s best interests. In making this determination, the court will look at a variety of factors. These include, among others, the desires of the parents; the child’s adjustment to the child’s home, school, and community; and the willingness of each parent to allow for a continuing relationship between the child and other parent.

What is joint custody? What is sole custody?

Joint legal custody means that each parent has equal rights to make decisions in the best interest of the child. Sole legal custody means one parent has the primary power to make decisions affecting the health, education, and welfare of the child. Sole legal custody does not completely prevent the other parent from being involved in making decisions, but it does mean the sole custodian has the ultimate decision-making power.

Joint legal custody is the preferred arrangement in Kansas.

If both parents share custody does anyone pay child support?

Maybe. The court may order child support and education expenses to be paid by either or both parents for any child under the age of 18, regardless of the type of custodial arrangement that is ordered. The Kansas Child Support Guidelines set forth the method for determining how much child support will be paid and by whom.

Can a parent refuse to allow visitation if child support is not paid?

No. The parent who fails to pay child support is still entitled to visitation/parenting time, even if he/she has not paid child support.

When can my child decide which parent to live with?

Regardless of the child’s age, the court will look at the best interests of the child to determine with whom the child should live. The court will take into consideration the child’s wishes.

Do grandparents have custody and visitation rights?

Absent exigent circumstances, a grandparent will not be given custody over a parent. Grandparents may be granted visitation rights.

What is a parenting plan, and do I need one?

A parenting plan is a document that sets forth, at a minimum, the legal custodial relationship of the child, a schedule for the child’s time with each parent, and a procedure for resolving disputes between the parents.

If either parent is in the military, the parenting plan will also set forth provisions for custody and parenting time upon military deployment, mobilization, temporary duty, or unaccompanied tour of such service member.

If the parents have entered into a parenting plan, the court will presume that the plan is in the best interests of the child. If you have a minor child, you need a parenting plan.

If my separation agreement includes custody/support can it be included in the divorce decree?

A separation agreement will be included in the divorce decree as long as the court finds the separation agreement to be valid, just, and equitable. The court may, however, modify any provisions in the separation agreement pertaining to child custody, residency of the child, visitation, parenting time, child support, or education of the child.

What can I expect from temporary orders?

Temporary orders will establish the child’s residence, the legal custodial relationship of the parents, and the amount of child support that should be paid until such time that the temporary orders are modified or permanent orders are entered.

When will child custody be decided?

Upon motion of one of the parties, the court may issue an order for temporary custody and parenting time for the duration of the case. After the case has either been tried or the parties agree to a settlement, the court will make a final award of custody.

When can I modify custody?

After a judge has made a final determination of custody, you may seek a modification whenever there is a material change in circumstances. This is shown by demonstrating that there has been a change in the child’s life or surroundings or something has happened such that a change in custody is appropriate.

What if we cannot agree on a custody arrangement?

The courts will order an arrangement it determines to be in the best interest of the child. In order to help make this determination, the court may order a special investigator to conduct an investigation and make a report concerning the appropriate legal custody, residency, visitation rights, and parenting time to be granted to the parents.

What is an ex parte order?

An ex parte order is an order entered by the court without the presence of the party against whom the order is being entered.

How is custody decided?

Custody is decided in the accordance with the best interest of the child. There are factors set forth in the Kansas statutes that a court will consider in making this determination.

How can I increase my chances at getting a larger custody agreement?

You can improve your chances of winning a custody dispute by demonstrating to the court that your child’s best interest is your priority and that your proposed custody/parenting plan is in your child’s best interest. This is shown, for example, by effectively co-parenting and fostering a relationship with the other parent.

What is visitation?

Visitation is similar to parenting time. These terms both refer to a person’s right to see the child on a regular and continuing basis. While often used interchangeably, parenting time refers to a mother or father’s time with the child, whereas visitation may be granted to a non-parent, such as a grandparent.

Can a judge order supervised visitation or no visitation?

If there is some reason to be concerned about the safety of the child, a court may require that visitation be supervised. Courts may deny visitation altogether if it finds that the exercise of parenting time would seriously endanger the child’s physical, mental, moral, or emotional health.

Do courts favor the mother over the father?

No. The court instead will consider many other factors in awarding custody, including which parent has been the primary care taker, the stability of each parent, the quality of affection given by each parent, etc.

What should I know before a custody trial?

It is important to show the judge, through your words and demeanor at the trial, that you are a stable, rational person who has the best interest of your child at the forefront of your actions and decisions.

Can I collect my own evidence to use if my custody case goes to court?

You can and should collect evidence to support your position regarding custody. There is no guarantee, however, that the evidence you gather will be admitted by the court.

Do I need to use a Guardian ad Litem/Custody Evaluator?

If the court deems it advisable, it will appoint a Guardian ad Litem to represent the interest of the child. The court may order investigations concerning child custody matters when the parents cannot agree on custody.

Will my child need to appear in court?

A judge may interview your child in chambers (the judge’s office) to assist the judge in determining legal custody, residency, visitation rights, and parenting time.

What is the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act?

The federal Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act was enacted by Congress to establish national standards under which jurisdiction of child custody determinations should be accepted.

What if my wife tries to move the kids out state?

It depends on the custody arrangement. Generally, the parent with residential custody is required to give written notice at least 30 days prior to changing the residence of the child or taking the child out of state for longer than 90 days. The failure to do so is an indirect civil contempt punishable as provided by law. Additionally, the court may award attorney fees and expenses incurred by reason of the failure to give notice. If you want to prevents this move, you must file a Motion to Modify in the 30 day notice period.