Kansas ranked among the top 10 highest states in 2019 with a divorce rate of 9.2 (per 1,000 marriages). Missouri followed close behind with a rate of 9.1 (per 1,000 marriages). Every year, thousands of couples decide to end their marriages in the Kansas City metropolitan area.
Perhaps you are considering divorce, or you have been served with divorce papers. Although divorce may be the answer to an unhappy marriage, you will have a multitude of other questions for which you need answers. Knowing what you should and should not do during the divorce process is a great way to lower your stress about the significant life change you are facing.
At Rundberg Law, LLC, Ron Rundberg has provided knowledgeable and compassionate representation for hundreds of clients throughout the Kansas City metropolitan area, in both Kansas and Missouri, to help them navigate the challenging issues of divorce. Ron's goal is to help families get through tough situations to resolve the issues that are important to them.
Divorce in Kansas
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 to file for divorce in the state. There is also a 30-day waiting period from the date the final divorce decree was entered by the court before remarriage is allowed.
Dissolution of Marriage in Missouri
Missouri is a no-fault divorce state, so filing is based on the premise that the marriage is irretrievably broken. No blame is assigned to either spouse.
Either spouse must have lived in Missouri for at least 90 days prior to filing for divorce. Division of marital assets between the spouses is equitable in both Missouri and Kansas. This means marital property is not simply divided based on a 50/50 split but is instead divided with consideration of each spouse’s financial situation.
What to do When Going Through Divorce
Hire an Attorney. Although you can represent yourself in a divorce, it is wise to hire an experienced family law attorney, especially if you cannot agree about the division of assets and debts, or about custody of children. Retaining an experienced attorney will help ensure that your best interests are taken into consideration throughout the divorce process.
Review/Serve Papers. The initial document filed with the court is the “petition.” Once the petition has been accepted by the court, a copy must be personally “served” to the other spouse. The spouse who has been served papers has 21 to 30 days to respond to the petition, depending on whether it was served in the state or not.
Protect Your Assets. Property either spouse had prior to the marriage is separate and remains that spouse’s property, unless funds from both spouses were commingled during the marriage. Division of assets including include items such as bank accounts, investments, vehicles, homes, and jointly owned businesses is often the most contentious part of a divorce. You can ask the court to issue temporary financial orders which restrict both spouses from spending money and designates who will continue to pay bills during the interim prior to an approved settlement agreement and divorce decree. Your attorney can help you take steps to restrain your spouse from liquidating assets or incurring debt during the divorce process.
Gather Documentation. You should gather documentation about insurance policies, investments, retirement plans, motor vehicle titles, credit card statements, and other information about marital assets and debt. Likewise, gather documentation affirming any separate property you believe should be excluded from a settlement agreement.
Review Options with Legal Counsel. Review your options for divorce with your attorney. Those options would include whether you want to agree to an uncontested divorce, in which you and your spouse agree to the terms, or a contested divorce, which requires a trial for a judge to decide the terms.
What Not To Do
There are also a few things you should not do until your divorce is final to help ensure good standing with the court:
Don’t talk about your divorce on social media.
Be careful what you put into writing, including texts and emails.
Be careful what you say to your kids about your spouse. The court often frowns upon a parent’s attempt to alienate children from the other parent.
Don’t take your stress out on your children. They need your support during the process as well.
Consider counseling, whether or not you hope to reconcile.
Don’t behave spitefully.
Don't destroy assets.
Don’t increase your debt or neglect taxes, bills, and other financial obligations.
Don’t hastily sign a settlement agreement or custody agreement without consulting with your attorney.
Never hide any information from your attorney which may be relevant to the divorce.
How an Experienced Attorney Can Help
Even the most amicable of divorces can be complicated, so having an experienced family law attorney help you do what you need to do and avoid what you need to avoid is a wise choice. Divorces are emotional and impact the lives of the couple and their children in major ways.
Hiring an experienced family law attorney can make the entire process less stressful for you by placing a protective layer between you and your spouse. Your lawyer is there to advise you and advocate for your best interests.
Rundberg Law, LLC, has helped hundreds of clients throughout the Kansas City metropolitan area, in both Kansas and Missouri. This help includes answering their questions about divorce and guiding them through the process. Let me help you, too. Call me today.