When you and your spouse decide your marriage no longer works, you could consider a legal separation, called separate maintenance, or divorce. In either scenario, you and your spouse will live apart in separate households and have independent financial lives.
Ending a marriage requires you to untangle your legal and financial affairs. Although you could rely on the court to do this, couples who develop agreements on critical issues usually achieve fairer and more workable arrangements than couples who let the court decide.
A Lincoln County separation agreements lawyer can work with you and your spouse to negotiate agreements that will govern your lives after divorce or legal separation. However, the judge must review and approve the arrangements, so working with an experienced marital contracts attorney is worthwhile to ensure the agreements meet legal requirements.
The couple must agree on how they will divide their marital property. Kansas recognizes separate property and marital property. Kansas Revised Statutes § 23-2711 requires couples to divide their marital property fairly.
Separate property is everything a spouse owned before marriage, including the debt they had when they married. Inheritances and gifts received during the marriage are separate property unless the receiving spouse treats them as marital property. Marital property is everything either spouse acquired during the marriage, regardless of the name on the title or registration. The couple also shares responsibility for debt acquired during the marriage.
Equitably distributing marital property considers each spouse’s contributions to the marriage. When one spouse was the primary wage-earner while the other prioritized family over career, an equitable distribution would recognize the homemaker’s sacrifice and allow that spouse a generous distribution to maintain a separate household. A well-practiced Lincoln County separation agreements attorney could advise a spouse on what the court might evaluate when deciding whether a distribution is equitable.
Kansas law allows a spouse to request ongoing financial support after a divorce or legal separation. Alimony is not mandatory, but courts will order it if one spouse needs a financial contribution from the other to avoid hardship. Spousal maintenance is also appropriate if one spouse needs time to gain the credentials or skills to be self-supporting.
The law limits judicial awards of spousal support to 121 months, although a couple could agree to a longer term. When the couple decides one party will pay spousal support, the judge will incorporate their agreement into the divorce decree or legal separation, even if the term is longer than the law allows.
A couple with minor children must create a parenting plan describing where the children will live and when they will spend time with the other parent. The parenting plan must be specific about the days and times the children will spend with each parent, who is responsible for transportation, and further details. A skilled separation agreements lawyer in Lincoln County could help a spouse or a couple develop a parenting plan that meets the legal requirements.
The plan must also describe who has decision-making authority, called legal custody. The law favors the parents sharing legal custody. If the couple assigns legal custody to one parent, the agreement must state why they did not choose joint legal custody.
Kansas publishes guidelines to help parents calculate child support. Both parents must contribute financially to their children’s needs; a parent cannot decline child support or refuse to accept it. The time the children spend with each parent factors in the child support calculation, so parents should negotiate custody and visitation issues first.
The couple must submit their agreements to the court, and the judge will review them. In most cases, the judge will approve the couple’s alimony and property division agreements unless they violate the law or are grossly unfair. However, a judge must independently analyze the couple’s agreements regarding their minor children to confirm they are in the children’s best interests.
When you and your spouse are considering legal separation or divorce, seek advice from a Lincoln County separation agreements lawyer. A local legal professional could walk you through the legal process and help you negotiate and formalize the necessary documents.
Do not try to draft these critical documents without legal assistance. Call now to speak with a seasoned attorney.