The State of Kansas does not require you to use a lawyer to get a divorce. While there are advantages to being represented by a lawyer, some people decide to complete the process for an uncontested divorce without an attorney. If you consider the do-it-yourself (DIY) approach, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the legal requirements and process — and to do that before you pay for DIY forms or a commercial service. Extensive free resources are available on the internet.
In Kansas, state laws govern the substantive and procedural aspects of divorce. The divorce statutes are extremely complex. Getting a divorce involves not only petitioning the court to end the marriage but also resolving issues relating to child custody, child support, equitable distribution of marital property and debts, and spousal support (alimony). Complicated state laws and guidelines govern those aspects of a divorce as well.
If spouses resolve all the divorce-related issues on their own or through mediation, they may proceed in court on an uncontested basis. The basis for an uncontested divorce typically is incompatibility, which is the Kansas terminology for a no-fault divorce. There are fault grounds for obtaining a divorce in Kansas, but they are generally asserted in a divorce case with contested issues.
In addition to filing a petition for an uncontested divorce, it may be necessary to file documents relating to other issues, such as the parties’ agreement on equitable distribution, child support, and child custody (including a parenting plan). During the divorce case, the court reviews your agreements and may require changes or reject them if they are not in compliance with Kansas statutory criteria and guidelines.
In some cases, a court may grant a divorce petition ending a marriage when other issues have not been resolved. For issues that are not addressed in the divorce case itself, additional legal proceedings may be necessary. However, Kansas courts have authority to order mediation on unresolved issues during a divorce proceeding.
The procedures and process for divorce are governed by the statute and by local court rules. Compliance with all requirements is necessary if you proceed on your own without legal representation. The process is not altered because you don’t have a lawyer.
The internet has many free resources about filing for a Kansas divorce without a lawyer. They include packets of information available through the Kansas Judicial Council and extensive resources from Kansas Legal Services. There also are numerous online paid commercial services that offer self-help materials for a Kansas divorce if you pay a fee.
You should use the readily available free information to familiarize yourself with the laws and procedural requirements before you decide to pay a commercial service. The no-cost information may be sufficient for you to proceed without paying a service or to conclude that representation by a lawyer is necessary or a better idea.
There is a critical point to remember: If you represent yourself using free materials or a paid commercial service, you will not receive any legal advice on your individual circumstances. The only way to get legal advice about your specific situation is to consult with an experienced Kansas divorce lawyer.
Using free information or a paying commercial service to file for a Kansas divorce without a lawyer does not guarantee success in your divorce petition. In addition, if you represent yourself, you might give up your Kansas legal rights regarding children and property (and debt) or significantly undermine those rights. The adverse impact of your decisions may not be apparent until some point in the future.
If you don’t use a lawyer and make mistakes or compromise your legal rights, you could end up without a divorce and pay more for a lawyer to remedy the errors (if they are fixable) than if you retained a lawyer to help with your divorce from the beginning. In other words, the small amount of money you save initially may end up costing you much more in the end, in terms of both money and emotional stress.
While it is possible to represent yourself in a Kansas divorce proceeding, risks accompany making this choice. That is true in large part because a divorce requires resolving legal issues that go beyond legal termination of the marriage. If you have children or marital property, you must address all those legal aspects of the marriage either during the divorce proceeding or in separate legal proceedings (with permission of the court).
If an experienced Kansas divorce attorney represents you in your divorce, you have peace of mind knowing that all your legal rights relating to your marriage are protected and addressed. The court’s decisions will be made only after your attorney presents all relevant information to the judge on your behalf. Your lawyer protects all your interests throughout the process to ensure the most favorable possible outcome for you. If any issues relating to the divorce or accompanying matters arise in the future, you can count on your lawyer to help you address them.
Our domestic and family law attorneys at Hampton & Royce, L.C., assist clients with Kansas divorce petitions, as well as child custody and support and equitable distribution issues. We make certain that we protect the interests and needs of our clients for both the short-term and the long-term. Our lawyers understand how intensely personal and emotional divorce issues are for spouses contemplating separating or ending a marriage.
For spouses interested in mediation and arbitration services for divorce issues, we also have the experience and expertise to facilitate resolution of domestic matters privately. Alternative dispute resolution can help spouses reach a settlement and expedite the process of resolving all the issues relating to a divorce.
We serve clients throughout the State of Kansas. Contact us to schedule a consultation.