How Do Kansas Marital Property Laws Affect Your Divorce?

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When a married couple divorces in Kansas, a state statute governs division of the property owned by the spouses. In a divorce proceeding, the court has authority under Kansas marital property laws to determine the distribution of assets and debts, subject to the statutory provisions.

Marital Property and Separate Property

All property owned by married spouses is either marital property or separate property. Whether specific property is individually or jointly titled, marital property includes all property owned by the couple and property acquired by either one after marriage.

Marital property includes all types of assets, including real estate, personal property, and financial accounts. Most retirement and pension plans are marital property.

Separate property generally includes property acquired by a spouse prior to marriage or acquired by a spouse through a gift or an inheritance during marriage.

Equitable Division of Marital Property

Marital property is subject to equitable distribution under Kansas law. Equitable distribution does not necessarily mean equal division. The law states that the court should make a division that is “just and reasonable.” Often, that does mean equal division, but the statute lists ten considerations that the court takes into account in making the division, including:

  • Age of the spouses
  • Duration of the marriage
  • Property owned by the spouses
  • Present and future earning capacity of each spouse
  • Time, source, and manner of property acquisition
  • Family ties and obligations
  • Dissipation of assets
  • Tax consequences of division on each spouse
  • Any other factor the court considers necessary

Spouses often agree on how to divide property following a divorce. In most cases, the court will honor the couple’s agreement, unless there is reason to conclude the agreed distribution is not equitable.

Authority of the Court to Order Property Division

The judge has broad authority in dividing marital property. The court order may require division by:

  • Distributing specific property to a spouse (known as “in kind” distribution)
  • Awarding all or some property to one spouse and requiring payment of a specific amount of money to the other spouse
  • Ordering sale of property under specific conditions and dividing the proceeds
  • Requiring changes in beneficiary designations on insurance and annuity policies, trusts, and transfer-on-death (TOD) or pay-on-death (POD) accounts

The court also has authority to set a valuation date for all assets, as well as consider evidence relating to change in asset values before and after the valuation date.

The court’s division of property includes allocation of debts, as well as division of assets. Like assets, debts may be marital or separate property.

Equitable Distribution in Your Divorce

If you consider divorce, property distribution should be one of your primary concerns, along with child custody issues. Determining — and implementing — division of marital property often is a complex matter.

While marital property and separate property may sound like simple concepts, it sometimes is not clear whether an asset or debt is one or the other. How property and obligations are categorized can make a significant difference in what you receive and what you owe when the divorce is final.

Going through a divorce is a difficult, emotional process for anyone. Especially when a divorce involves property division issues, having legal counsel who can objectively and professionally assess the situation — and protect your interests — is a significant benefit.

Even if you and your spouse agree on how to divide property and debts, it is still advisable to seek assistance from an attorney. Before you agree to anything, you should fully understand your rights. You also want to make sure you understand what your financial obligations will be when the divorce is final, as well as what assets you will receive.

If you and your spouse cannot agree on asset and debt division, the court makes the final determination. In that situation, your lawyer presents all the facts and circumstances in your favor for the judge to consider. Because equitable distribution is not a mathematical formula but an application of legal principles set by state law, legal representation is especially critical when the court divides a couple’s property in the divorce proceeding.

Your lawyer knows the law that applies to your situation, as well as the court procedures and processes involved in a divorce and property division. Understanding how judges approach equitable division is an important factor, whether you agree to a property settlement or ask the court to divide the marital property.

Talk With Our Respected Salina, Kansas Family Law Attorneys

If you face any issue involving property division and divorce — or if you need assistance with any type of domestic or family law issue — our experienced Salina, Kansas domestic and family law attorneys at Hampton & Royce, L.C. are here to help. For parents or other attorneys interested in mediation services for family law issues, we also have the skill and expertise to facilitate resolution of domestic matters privately.

We serve clients throughout the State of Kansas. Contact us to schedule a consultation.

Categories: Family Law