Divorce isn’t a fun topic by any stretch, but it is an unfortunate reality for many people across the country. While divorce may be inevitable for some people, being ruined financially by a divorce doesn’t have to be anyone’s end game. If you take the time to understand and follow the laws of your state as you plan your divorce, it doesn’t have to destroy any sense of financial stability you built up during your marriage. The laws of each state are different – this guide walks through the rule and regulations in Kansas, so Sunflower State residents can be informed before they make a huge mistake. No matter what is going on with your marriage, consider working with a financial advisor to take stock of your finances.
How to File for Divorce in Kansas
To file for divorce in Kansas, one or both of the spouses must have lived in the state for at least 60 days.
Grounds for Divorce in Kansas
Kansas has both no-fault and fault divorces. A no-fault divorce means that no one has to prove wrongdoing on the part of their partner. The only grounds for a no-fault divorce is that the two parties are incompatible and can’t reconcile. Beyond that, no reason for the break-up has to be given.
Fault divorces have become far less common in recent years, but are still available. There are two legal grounds for a fault divorce: failure to perform a material marital duty or incompatibility due to mental illness or incapacity. For the latter grounds to apply the spouse must prove the other has been in a mental hospital or institution for at least two years or that a court has already ruled the other spouse to be mentally ill or incapacitated.
Process to Divorce
To start the divorce process in Kansas, one spouse will need to fill out several forms and file them with the courthouse in your county. The form you file will include the following information:
- Home address for each spouse
- Details of the marriage, including how long it lasted
- Divorce grounds
- Names of any minor children and any request for child support
- Alimony requested
The second spouse then needs to be served, having the form sent to them.
If both parties can agree to terms for the divorce – including dividing property, any alimony payments, and how to deal with child custody – they can get an uncontested divorce. Sixty days after filing, a final hearing can be scheduled wherein the judge will review your paperwork and proposed decree. If all is in order, it will be signed and your divorce moves forward.
Sometimes, though, a divorce is contested and the parties can’t agree to terms. In this case, there will be a period of discovery involving gathering evidence, including financial disclosures from both parties. The lawyers for both spouses work together to try to come to a settlement. If one cannot be reached, though, a trial will be set. The judge listens to testimony and hears evidence before making a final ruling on all relevant matters.
How to Split Up Assets During a Divorce in Kansas
In Kansas, which is not a community property state, marital property describes most assets and debts a couple takes on during the marriages. Separate property, which is not part of a divorce decision or settlement, is anything either spouse gets before the marriage, along with anything gotten as a gift or inheritance. If the title to a piece of separate property is converted to be in both spouses name, it becomes marital property.
How to Divide Property in Kansas After a Divorce
After the pool of marital property, which includes pension assets, is established, monetary value will be assigned to each item with experts or accountants used as needed. If the couple can’t split the property up themselves, the judge will decide based on a number of factors including age, the length of the marriage, each spouse’s earnings and earning potential, the amount of separate property, tax consequences, any alimony assigned and other family responsibilities of each spouse.
How to Manage Child Support and Alimony Under Kansas Divorce Laws
There are three types of alimony available in Kansas: temporary, short-term and long-term. Temporary alimony lasts only the length of the trial, and allows a spouse with lower-earnings to pay the bills during the trial.
Short-term alimony will be ordered when the supporter spouse needs time to obtain training or education to support themselves. There will usually be a set end date for this support, by which time the supported spouse is expected to have found a way to support themselves.
Long-term alimony is rare, but it can be ordered when a spouse is not expected to be able to support themselves because of issues like age, health, disabilities or some other extenuating circumstance. This support does end when the supported spouse dies or remarries. Generally, alimony in Kansas can’t be granted for longer than 121 months, but that can be extended by the judge.
There is no formula for determining alimony payments. The judge can consider the length of the marriage, each spouse’s resources, the standard of living during the marriage, health, contributions to the marriage, how long one spouse needs to become independent and how paying alimony will impact the spouse paying it.
Child support, on the other hand, is based on a formula. The adjusted gross incomes of both parents is considered, along with the money needed to care for the child. If one parent has primary physical custody, the other will pay them child support, as it is assumed that the parent with custody is paying their share of the cost directly.
401(k) and IRA and Divorce in Kansas
Retirement accounts may be impacted by a divorce settlement or judgement, and some of the money may have to be taken out and given to the other spouse. First, the court will determine what money in the account is considered marital property. Essentially, any money put into the account during the marriage, along with any investment gains from that money, is considered marital property and could be split as part of a divorce decision. Money put in before the marriage is separate property and is not part of the decision.
Normally, taking money out of a 401(k) early results in fines and taxes, but the judge can issue a Qualified Domestic Relations Order to avoid that. An IRA doesn’t require a QDRO, but the divorce settlement or decision must include specific language regarding taking money out to have the fees and taxes waived. The IRA administrator will get a copy of the divorce decree and follow the instructions therein.
Once the money is removed from the account, there are a few options. The funds could go directly into the bank account of either spouse. While penalties for early withdrawals will be waived, this will be counted as regular income and taxed as such (unless it is a Roth account, in which case taxes have already been paid on that money). A rollover account can also be set up to take the money and reinvest it for retirement. The QDRO or judges order may include specific information about how the money should be distributed.
Dealing with retirement savings can be one of the more complicated aspects of a divorce. This is one area where having a financial advisor can be especially helpful.
Divorce and Estate Planning in Kansas
While married, you may have come up with an estate plan. That’s wonderful, but you’ll likely want to take a look at it after you get divorced. While married, your spouse likely would have received your assets had you died. You’ll need to name a new beneficiary now – and set up trusts if that beneficiary is your children.
Also, make sure to take the time to change the designated inheritor for all accounts, including retirement accounts. If you have advanced medical directives or powers of attorney set up in case you are unresponsive, you’ll want to change them, unless you still want your ex-spouse making decisions for you.
Finally, if you have children, come up with a plan for what happens to your child or children if you and your spouse were both to die. If you already made a decision about this before the divorce, check in to see that everyone is still OK with it.
Most divorces in Kansas are done on a no-fault basis, though fault divorces do stil exist for a narrow set of circumstances. Once divorce is filed for, the two parties will try to come to a decision regarding assets, child custody and other issues – if one can’t be come to, a trial will be set and the judge will make a decision.
Financial Planning Tips
- Whether you’re getting divorce, still married or single-and-loving-it, a financial planning can make sure your finances are totally in order. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three vetted financial advisors who serve your area, and you can interview your advisor matches at no cost to decide which one is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
- Kansas income tax rates have dropped in recent years, while sales taxes have slightly increased. The average sales tax rate paid in Kansas is one of the highest in the country. Property taxes are higher than the national average. A Kansas tax calculator can make filing more efficient and accurate.
- Estate planning is important even if you’re young and haven’t built assets up yet. You still want to leave a clear plan for what should happen if you die – especially if you have children.
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