Going through a breakup or divorce is never an easy process, and when the custody of children is added to the mix, it can often make for a stressful and emotionally painful process. Child custody cases and issues often make for very delicate situations, but Kansas family court judges and judges across the country will always try to make custody arrangement decisions that are in the best interest of the children involved, regardless of whether or not their decisions follow the wishes of either parent.
Child Custody Laws in Kansas
Child custody cases in the state of Kansas are always handled on an individual basis in order to guarantee the children’s best interests are kept as the highest priority. Parents are encouraged to create their own parenting plan after their relationship has ended, whether they are able to do this completely on their own or with the help of a mediator or counseling. If this cannot be accomplished, Kansas law does outline that parents can be awarded legal custody, physical custody, or both.
Types of Child Custody in Kansas
When it comes to custody cases in the state of Kansas, family courts always prefer to award legal custody to both parents, which is known as joint legal custody. This means both parents have an equal responsibility and right to be involved in important decision making about the children’s upbringing, including but not limited to:
- Educational opportunities
- Medical care
- Religious upbringing
- Extracurricular activities
- Social relationships
- Family relationships
In this state, the judge alone will make the decision about how legal custody is divided between the parents, as well as who the children will reside with should the couple need a sole custody agreement based on what is in the best interests of the child. The family court judge will have broad discretion to determine what exactly is in the best interest of the children involved and will also take the time to review all the relevant factors of the case in order to make their final custody decision.
What Determines Child Custody in Kansas
In Kansas, the family court judge is responsible for choosing who the children will primarily reside with – this parent is known as the primary custodial parent. When making this crucial decision, the judge will look at a long list of factors and evaluate each parent’s ability to be proper caregivers in order to make the best possible decision for the well-being and upbringing of the children. Some of the factors the judge will consider during this decision making process include:
- Each parent’s wishes as to who the children will reside with
- The children’s wishes as to who they wish to reside with
- The relationship between the children and each of the parents
- The children’s relationship with any siblings who may be living full-time with one of the parents
- The children’s relationship with any other family members or other individuals what may have a significant impact on their overall well-being
- The children’s involvement and behavior in school, at home, and in the community
- Each parent’s willingness to foster a positive relationship between the children and the other parent
- If either of the parent’s or someone they are closely associated with have any history of neglect, child abuse, or other form of abuse
The factors outlined above are not exclusive or exhaustive of the decision making process. In addition to these factors, the judge may also include some additional information when making their decision including some, if not all, of the following:
- Each parent’s financial stability in terms of caring for the children
- Each parent’s physical health in terms of caring for the children
- Each parent’s willingness and ability to invest in the children’s education
- Each parent’s willingness and ability to provide for and invest in the children’s medical care and medical needs
- Each parent’s ability to make proper decisions about the children’s upbringing
- Each parent’s willingness and attitude when it comes to following the outlines child custody agreement
Child Custody Modification in Kansas
At some point in time, if may be necessary for a modification of the child custody agreement to be made. In most cases, when both parents agree to a change in the child custody arrangement, they can present their modification to the judge, have it approved, and then made legally binding. Should one parent not agree to the outlined modification, it then becomes the requesting parent’s duty to prove to the court the modification is needed and the change in the agreement will benefit the children.
The Kansas family court system does not easily approve child custody arrangement modifications, as child and mental health professionals believe too many abrupt and constant changes to a child’s schedule and situation could cause them emotional distress. Because of this, only modifications absolutely needed are approved. In order to get a modification approved, the requesting parent will need to provide proof of the following factors and possibly more depending on the judge’s preferences:
- A significant change in circumstances has occurred, either in the parent’s life or in the children’s lives
- A modification is needed in order to continue providing the children with the best possible living conditions and continue to support their overall well-being
- The changes that will be caused by the modification will benefit the children in such a way that the disturbances they will experience will be beneficial to them overall
The bar is set very high for proving these factors as a means to keep unnecessary modifications from happening. It is often very difficult for a parent to get the modification approved without the other parent agreeing to the change unless these factors can be proved beyond a shadow of a doubt.
Child Custody and Relocation in Kansas
Relocation requests, in many ways, are treated much in the same way as modification requests. If both parents agree to the relocation, they will present the request to the judge and when it is approved it will become legally binding as part of the custody agreement. Not many parents will agree to their children moving farther away from them, so often it is one parent making the request for relocation while the other parent is contesting the move. The parent making the request will need to be able to prove the relocation is necessary in order for it to be approved and allowed by the court system.
When reviewing child custody and relocation requests, Kansas judges will look at a number of different factors before making a final decision. Some of these factors include, but are not limited to:
- The reason given for the relocation
- How the relocation is to benefit the children
- The ages of the children
- The genders of the children
- The relationship between the children and the custodial parent
- The relationship between the children and the non-custodial parent
- Why the non-custodial parent is contesting the relocation
- Alternate communication methods that can be used between the children and the non-custodial parent and what those alternate communication methods cost
- If the children are of a certain age, what their preferences are for residency