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Kansas Child Custody
Child Custody in Kansas
Based on Kansas Statutes 60-16-1610, "[e]ither parent may be awarded custody. If child custody is disputed it shall then be decided by the court based on the best interests of the child factors."
Kansas's child custody laws protect the best interests of the child. Parents must present a parenting plan when they divorce that outlines the terms and conditions of their divorced parenting. The court intervenes if they have disagreements and decides the placement of the child. Either parent can be the child's custodian.
A parenting plan is not a sole basis of awarding custody, however, the plan reflects the parents' cooperation and enables the court to take it into consideration in deciding custody arrangements. As always, the courts' primary guideline is the best interests of the child.
The state's family courts have jurisdiction over child custody issues. Family dynamics, the child's wishes, and parental roles are among the things to be considered by the court. By law, these factors serve as the courts' guideline whether joint custody or sole custody is suitable.
The courts encourage divorcing parents to cooperate in working out the details of their parenting agreement. The court decides child custody, support, and visitation rights when the parents cannot do it.
Here are the factors the court considers in order to determine feasible custody arrangements:
In Kansas, joint custody encompasses two elements: legal and physical. Joint legal custody means that the parties work cooperatively to make important decisions for the child. Joint physical custody means the child spends nearly equal amounts of time with each parent in separate households. This works best when the parents live close to each other and have proven they are able to be open and communicative with each other.
The most common custody arrangement involves the parties sharing joint legal custody, with one parent having residential custody of the child. In this case, the other parent has regular, scheduled visitation time with the child, but the child maintains a permanent residence in just one household.
By comparison, sole custody means that the parent with sole custody is the final decision maker regarding all issues in the child's upbringing. Additionally, the child lives with that parent. In many cases with a sole custodial determination, the non-custodial parent will still have regular, scheduled visitation with the child. As a general rule, a parent is granted sole custody when the other parent is mentally, physically or emotionally unable to care for the child.
Yet another arrangement, used only rarely, is divided custody. Divided custody is only used in matters where it is in the best interest for children to be raised separately from one another. Divided custody means that one child lives with one parent and another child lives with the other parent. Each parent retains legal custody of the child who lives with him or her and has scheduled visitation with the child who lives with the other parent.
Joint Custody Preference
Kansas laws express a preference for parents to share as equally as practically possible in the custody of a child in a divorce case.
Third Party Custody
In some cases, a third party, or someone other than a child's biological parents, will try to gain custody of a child. In Kansas, non-parental custody is seen most often in situations where the state has had to intervene in a family situation that is unhealthy or dangerous for the children.
Non-parental custody is often a temporary order and is seen most often in cases when a grandparent or other relative is given custody of a child because the parents are unable to care for the child.
In addition to finding a parent unfit because of substance abuse or abuse or neglect towards a child, the courts also consider the conduct of both parents during the course of the marriage, and the impact of parental behavior on the child.
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"A Plain English Guide to Protecting Your Children"
Author: Mary L. Boland, Attorney at Law
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