Divorce vs. Annulment vs. Legal Separation in Kansas
Feb. 10, 2021
Who you choose to marry and spend the rest of your life with is not only a serious decision, it is a highly personal one. Deciding how you choose to deal with a failing marriage is just as personal. Simply staying married and enduring the situation is an option, but doing so is complicated by practical matters such as children, property, and finances.
Kansas law accommodates three ways couples can use to separate, including divorce, annulment, and legal separation. What they choose is often based on factors such as finances, employment, and religious beliefs. With any option, parting is stressful, complicated, and often contentious.
At Rundberg Law, LLC, Ron Rundberg provides knowledgeable and compassionate legal counsel for clients in the Kansas City metro area, in both Kansas and Missouri. He will help you decide the best way to deal with your troubled marriage.
Kansas law allows both no-fault and fault as grounds for divorce. In the former, both parties admit that the marriage is irreconcilable, and no fault is assigned to either party. In a fault divorce, a spouse can assign fault for failure to perform a material marital duty or obligation, or incompatibility by mental illness or incapacity of one or both spouses.
Either spouse must have lived in Kansas for at least 60 days in order to file for divorce. One spouse files a petition for dissolution and has the petition served to the other spouse, who then files a response. If the divorce is uncontested, meaning the couple can agree to terms such as child custody and support, division of assets and debt, and spousal maintenance, they submit the agreement to the court for approval. If the couple cannot agree on these terms, the divorce is contested, and the court will make decisions based on the evidence presented. There is also a 30-day waiting period from the date the final divorce decree was entered by the court before either party can remarry.
Unlike a divorce, which ends a marriage, an annulment declares there never was a valid marriage in the first place. As with a divorce, there is a residency requirement and one spouse files a petition for annulment with the court where the couple has resided. The petition must state, and the petitioner must prove in court, grounds for the annulment. These grounds may include things such as bigamy, deception or fraud as to a significant face, coercion, lack of capacity to consent to the marriage, or not being aware of the other spouse's incurable impotence.
As with divorce, a judge can divide assets and debts and rule on child custody. The judge can also order one party to pay child support or maintenance to the other party. The couple’s children are considered legitimate under Kansas law despite the couple being able to state that they were never married.
As with divorce, couples who file for separate maintenance (legal separation) must divide marital property and resolve issues such as child custody, parenting time, and child and spousal support. After the separate maintenance has been granted, each person can continue to incur debt, acquire assets, and enter into contracts as a married person, because they continue to be legally married.
When a spouse files a petition for separate maintenance with the court, they must provide specific information, including the date of separation, and if it is not a no-fault separation, the grounds for the petition. Prior to granting the petition, there is a 60-day waiting period during which the judge may order one or both parties to enter counseling, in an attempt to save the marriage. The 60-day period is also the time during which the couple negotiates terms regarding assets, debts, child custody, and other issues. At the end of the 60-day period, the judge can enter an order of separate maintenance.
Some couples use legal separation to live separate lives while remaining married to satisfy their religious beliefs not to divorce. Others use it as a trial to see whether they want to divorce, or as a tool to avoid the trauma a divorce may have on minor children. However, the couple is still married, and the separate maintenance process is as extensive and stressful as divorce itself. If the couple later decides to divorce, they have to go back through the legal process all over again.
Hire an Experienced Kansas Family Law Attorney
If your marriage is failing and you are considering your options, divorce, annulment, or separate maintenance are available under Kansas law. Which course you take is up to you, but none of them are simple or stress-free. You need to consult with an experienced family law attorney to explore your options and get the information you need to make this highly personal decision.
At Rundberg Law, LLC, Ron Rundberg will provide you with experienced and knowledgeable legal counsel. He represents clients throughout the Kansas City metro area, in both Kansas and Missouri, as they consider their options for dealing with a troubled marriage. Ron will help you make the best of your difficult situation and resolve your situation with as little conflict as is possible to reach a result that is fair to you. Call Ron today to discuss how he can help you.