Our Domestic Law Firm Handles:
Legal Separation in Kansas
In Kansas, a legal separation requires the same legal maneuvering as a divorce, but the marriage stays intact. People incorrectly believe that they are legally separated if they live apart for an extended period of time, but Kansas requires a formal filing of separation. A legal separation may give troubled spouses the time and distance to work through issues of their floundering marriage. This routine may be a good option when the spouses want to live separately but still provide financial support for one another. In Kansas, a legal separation is an alternative to divorce. The spouses are still married but allowed to live apart under a court decree of separate maintenance.
In a separation, the court demands an equitable division of assets and debt. Whether it’s established by the couple or by the judge. The couple should try to agree on custody and visitation for their children; the judge, however, has final authority to determine custody rights.
Using a model separate maintenance agreement as a guide, the parties can write their own. The arrangement must include a division of both assets and debts. It should also include child support and custody issues, if they apply. The spouses should negotiate until they are satisfied, and should double-check everything when a draft of the maintenance agreement has been reached. This makes certain all issues have been addressed.
Need an attorney for a legal separation case in Kansas City? Legal separation is an alternative to divorce that many couples choose in order to take time away from each other. This time is often used to decide whether or not divorce is the best possible option to proceed with if the marriage is beyond saving. Some couples realize that they want to work on their marriage and try to make it work, while others realize that the time away was the best they have had in a long time and divorce is definitely what they want. The primary benefit to this option is that both parties will be able to partake in all of the benefits of divorce, while still maintaining a legal marriage agreement.
If you decide to go through with the legal separation process, then you will be subject to many of the same requirements as divorce, such as determining property division, child custody, visitation rights, and other issues. This can be a difficult and confusing process, and it is highly important that you have the skilled assistance of a Kansas City divorce attorney on your side that can guide you through these decisions and negotiations. Your future is the most important aspect to this case, and it is important that you do not compromise to the point that you are left without provision for your future. Let us assist you in this process.
The decision to file for divorce is never easy. Divorce is often a stressful and painful process and you are at your most vulnerable during this time. You should seek the assistance of an experienced family lawyer to guide you through every aspect of your matter.
If you are considering filing for divorce or have a family issue, it’s critical to have a lawyer who knows the Johnson County Kansas courts. Attorney Melissa Kelly Schroeder is the one you need on your side.
At The Kelly Law Firm we focus on what matters most:
Children First - We help you minimize the impact and stress a divorce has on your children.
Understanding - We get to know all aspects of your case.
Strategy - We work with you to craft the legal strategy that will lead to a fair and equitable outcome.
Resolution - We focus on completing your divorce in the most efficient and cost effective manner possible.
Confidentiality - We always maintain your privacy and confidentiality.
There are many complex issues to be considered when ending your marriage such as property division, ongoing conflicts about child custody, and various financial crises. Let our experienced and compassionate family lawyer guide you through the entire process in a logical and strategic manner.
You will likely have questions, such as:
What is the process of divorce?
Can I get alimony spousal and child support?
How will we divide our property?
What about our debts?
What if our assets include a business, investments or other complex property? What are my rights as a parent?
During your divorce, we will answer all of your questions, as well as many that you may not even know to ask.
Once the divorce process begins, The Kelly Law Firm will help you make your own decisions during settlement negotiations, but we will also stand ready to litigate on your behalf if necessary.
We are here to help get you through your divorce. Call us at 913-451 -1119 or
click here to fill out our online form. We serve clients in Johnson County including Overland Park, Lenexa, Olathe, Leawood, Shawnee, Mission, Merriam and other surrounding areas of Kansas and Missouri.
By far some of the most important — and stressful — matters that our clients have to deal with are those involving their children. Matters involving children can be contentious, however our attorneys believe that children of divorce are the most important issue and that it is important for our clients to maintain family relationships and ongoing cooperation if at all possible. Unmarried or divorcing parents must work out an arrangement regarding the custody of their child or children.
At The Kelly Law Firm L.L.C., we take the same approach to custody as the courts take: The best interests of your children are our focus. Melissa Kelly Schroeder helps her clients maintain that focus on the children, and work with the other parent if possible to ensure that their well-being is of utmost concern. Court is seen as a last resort. However, if necessary, we will go to court on your behalf to protect your rights relating to your children.
Protecting Family Relationships
Many different terms are used when speaking of the decisions you will have to make for your children, including child custody, visitation, parenting time and parenting plans. These terms refer to where your children will live, who will make decisions about them and who will be able to have visitation with them.
Although there are some differences in the statutes and guidelines followed by courts in each state, both Kansas and Missouri place an emphasis on maintaining the relationship of the child with both parents.
This does not necessarily mean that the children will live with both parents an equal amount of time. They may live with one parent most of the time, split their time equally, or some other arrangement that works for your family and your children. We can be flexible and creative to ensure that your family's — and most importantly, your child's — unique needs are met.
When helping you decide matters of custody and parenting time, our attorneys will discuss:
The wishes of both parents
The child's need to maintain contact with both parents, as well as siblings and extended family
The wishes of the child, if old enough
The quality of the child's life at home and school
The parents' ability to cooperate and not interfere in the child's relationship with his or her other parent
The physical and mental health of the parents Any history of domestic violence Any plans to relocate
How can a Kansas child custody lawyer help you establish custody?
Custody can be established by agreement between the parents but, where parents disagree with each other about which of them should have custody of their child, judges face some of the most sensitive and difficult cases that can be brought before a court. Custody disputes need to be resolved with the highest degree of professionalism and care. To find the best child custody lawyers for you, look for lawyers who can understand your child’s unique needs. The needs of each child vary and having a professional who will truly have your child’s best interests in mind will help great deal.
Our top rated child custody lawyer knows that custody battles are decided on the basis of individual circumstances. While litigation over custody can be a very difficult process, it is important to protect your rights and the well being of your child. Our child custody lawyer has more than 21 years of courtroom experience presenting these cases. We understand the importance of paying attention to each child’s unique situation in order to present our clients’ custody cases effectively.
What Are Parents’ Rights Regarding Custody Of Their Own Children?
Parents do not have a presumptive right to custody of their own children in Kansas. Custody is never viewed through the lens of parental. Instead, the welfare of the child is the primary focus of the state’s concern, and parents are awarded custody according to their abilities to provide for that individual child’s needs.
Generally, parents may work out their own arrangements regarding the custody of their own children by simply agreeing between themselves. It is still important that they have these agreements written by an experienced family court attorney. If not, their agreement may be unenforceable later.
In cases where parents disagree over the custody of their child or children, either parent may ask the court to decide the issue for them.
Can Custody Be Shared?
Custody is not a “winner take all” proposition. It is only a minority of cases where one parent obtains sole custody to the total exclusion of the other. More commonly, one parent is awarded primary custody and the non-custodial parent is awarded significant time with the child.
Other custody arrangements simply specify the non-custodial parent is awarded a “visitation” schedule which defines that party’s regular parenting times. The most restrictive form of participation by the non-custodial parent is “supervised visitation,” which allows a parent to spend time with the children only while being monitored by a specific adult, family member or child care professional.
In some cases, it is even possible for parents to share custody equally, with each parent caring for the children 50% of time. However, this is not the norm. Equally shared custody can only be done in cases where the parties agree.
The reason for this is because, in cases where parents have to litigate the issue, the mere fact that custody is being argued is an indication of the parents’ inability to co-parent. Decisional law prohibits the courts from granting joint custody to “warring” parents.
How Does the Court Choose One Parent Over the Other?
In choosing one parent over the other, a court may consider any factor that may help the court to decide the child’s best interests.
Some factors are the child’s age, health, and special needs; the capability of each parent to care for the child; the history of care provided by a parent for the child; health and physical condition of each parent; the home environment that each parent has or provided or will provide to the child; educational needs of the child and the ability of each parent to meet those needs; the existence or absence of extended family members; either parent’s interference with the relationship between the child and the other parent; religion; the preference of the child if the child is old enough; any child abuse by either parent; the effect of separating siblings from each other; either parent’s previous agreement; the relative nurturing ability of each parent; the length of time the child has resided with either parent; and the child’s need for stability.
Can Custody And Visitation Orders Be Changed After the Original Decision Is Made?
Even after custody and visitation have been decided — regardless of whether that was done by agreement or by litigation — it may still be possible to ask the court to change its decision later.
If a party can show that circumstances have substantially changed since the court made its original decision and that the change was not foreseeable at the time when the court made its original decision, then that party is permitted bring a motion for a change of custody.
What Happens If A Parent With Custody Moves Away?
Relocation is one of the reasons for asking the court to reconsider its previous decision regarding custody. Relocation cases are a distinct subset of custody disputes. When people want to move a substantial distance from home, they expect to take their children with them, even if it interferes with the non-custodial parent’s ability to spend time with those children.
A court cannot tell a parent where he or she must live. It can, however, tell a parent not to take the children with them if the other parent claims the move is not in the best interests of the children. Then, the parent who wishes to move the children must seek permission from the court by showing that the move would be in the best interests of the children.
Some of the “legitimate” reasons compelling people to relocate the children are: remarriage, employment opportunity, educational advantages, health, and the need to be close to extended family. These reasons may persuade a court to change its previous custody decision. There are also “frivolous” reasons, such as the desire to prevent the non-custodial parent from seeing the child, and New York divorce courts will not allow the relocating parent to move the child for those reasons.
WE ARE READY TO HELP YOU WITH CHILD CUSTODY
Figuring out which parent will have custody of children is a difficult process. You may feel unsure what your rights are and how the law will apply to your specific situation. Our child custody attorney is ready to take your hand and guide you through the process of establishing custody and protecting your rights.
Paternity and Parentage Matters
Unmarried parents must take different legal steps than married parents when dealing with child custody or parenting time. When the parents of a child are not married, signing the birth certificate does not entitle a parent to receive child support or specific rights to the child. Even when mothers and fathers agree on who is the father of their child, fathers must be judicially declared the legal father before having the right to custody or visitation. Until paternity is established, the father is legally without the rights and responsibilities of a parent.
There are a number of advantages related to establishing paternity for various members of the family:
Couples who are not married can acknowledge paternity on the birth certificate at the time the child is born through an Affidavit Acknowledging Paternity or voluntary acknowledgment of paternity.
It is possible to establish paternity later voluntarily, until the child is 18.
Admitting to paternity gives a man the same rights and responsibilities as a biological father. If the father does not wish to establish paternity, the mother may have to commence a paternity case and child and potential father may need to submit to a DNA test.
If a father is served with papers alleging paternity, he must respond within the timelines required.
Melissa Kelly Schroederof The Kelly Law Firm L.L.C. will discuss various factors related to paternity and fathers' rights such as:
Child support for the child or children if the parents do not live together
The right to make decisions such as education and medical care, for their child
The right to seek custody, visitation and parenting time for the father and mother
The right to claim the child as a dependent for tax purposes
Access to various benefits such as medical insurance
A sense of stability and inclusion in both families
Grandparents' Rights In Kansas
When grandparents come to see us, it's usually because there are problems with access to their grandchildren.
What is appropriate in your particular situation, as a grandparent, depends greatly on your grandchild’s needs, and your needs. No case is exactly the same.
Under Kansas law, grandparents have the right to ask the court for visitation with their grandchildren. However, these rights must be balanced against the parents’ objections, if any, and the best interests of the child. This article provides an overview of the process and explains what grandparents will have to show in order to convince a judge to allow them time with their grandchildren.
When do requests for grandparent visitation arise
These types of requests may come up under any circumstance in which grandparents are not allowed to visit with their grandchild, for example, when one of the child’s parents dies, and the child’s surviving parent prohibits his or her in-laws from seeing the child. Under these circumstances, the in-laws - as the child’s grandparents - can ask the court to order the surviving parent to allow them to visit their grandchild. However, grandparents cannot ask the court for visits with their grandchild if the child’s parents’ rights have been cut off or terminated by a previous court order. So, where a parent has lost all custody rights over his or her child, then that parent’s parents (the grandparents to the child) also have no rights to see the child.
How do I begin the process?
You have to file a petition (legal paperwork) for grandparent visitation in the county where the child resides with the child’s parent, guardian or other person with custody. If you already have an order for visitation with your grandchild, and you want it enforced, you will have to file a motion for enforcement; the court is supposed to give you a hearing within 21 days from the date your motion is filed.
What will I have to show the court in order to get visitation with my grandchild?
Generally, Judges will evaluate two factors when deciding whether grandparents may visit their grandchildren. First, the grandparent must show that there is a “substantial relationship” between the grandparent and the grandchild, which means that you spend time with the child. But the grandparent-grandchild relationship doesn't have to be current; grandparents can meet this requirement by showing a past relationship with the child. If you have tried to be a part of the child’s life, but the child’s parent has been actively preventing you from seeing the child, it’s important to show the judge what efforts you have made to see the child.
Secondly, the grandparent must show that visitation is in the child’s best interests, considering the child’s health, safety and welfare. Judges want to know how the child will be affected by having contact with the grandparents. For example, the grandparents may want overnight visits with the child without being fully able to provide appropriate care. Or, there may be a lot of bad feelings and conflict between the parent and grandparent, which might make visitation a negative experience for the child.
Judges will also want to understand the grandparent’s relation to the child. The grandparent can be related to the child by blood or by marriage, such as a “step- grandparent” or a person who is the parent of the child’s stepparent.
The law presumes that a child’s parent is fit and will act in the child’s best interests. So, if the child’s parent objects to the grandparent’s visitation, courts will take that objection very seriously. In that situation, the grandparent would have a heavy burden of showing that the parent is not acting in the child’s best interest by contesting the grandparent’s request.
Are there any risks to pursuing grandparent visitation?
In Kansas, courts that are considering a grandparent’s request for visitation can award attorney’s fees to the child’s parent, unless the judge finds that such an order would be unfair. For example, if the judge finds that the parent’s objection to the grandparent’s visitation is reasonable, the grandparent may be ordered to pay the parent’s attorney’s fees and court costs.
If, on the other hand, the parent has been unreasonable in stopping the grandparent from seeing the child, or the parent violated a court order by preventing the grandparents from visiting, the judge would not order the grandparents to pay the parents’ legal costs.
However, there are many cases where both sides are reasonable, and they just disagree as to what is best for the child. In those cases, Kansas law still allows the judge to order the grandparents to pay the parents’ attorneys’ fees and costs. If the court doesn't award the parents their fees and costs, the judge has to find that such an award is inequitable or unfair.
How can I get custody of my grandchild?
If a state agency removes a child from the parent’s care, and the child is not placed with the other parent, grandparents can request that the court award custody to them. In this case the judge considers:
the wishes of the parent, child and the grandparent
how much the grandparent has been involved with the child’s care
the exact circumstances that prompted the child to be placed with the
grandparent, including whether there has been any domestic violence or whether
the child is with the grandparent so the parent can work, and
the physical and mental health of all involved.
There are other circumstances in which grandparents may seek custody of their grandchildren. If you don’t have a situation where your grandchildren have been removed from their parents’ custody, but you think they are being neglected or receiving inadequate care, you should consult an experienced family law attorney in your area to determine whether you can get custody and become their legal guardian.
What your legal rights are as a grandparent will vary based upon what your situation is. Your rights depend greatly on the type of relationship you have with your grandchild. Some grandparents see their grandchildren regularly, even daily, while others rarely, if ever see their grandchildren.
Some grandparents have their grandchildren thrust upon them, and ultimately end up wearing two hats, “grandpa and grandma,” and “mommy & daddy” because the parent of the children are either not willing, or are not able to care for the children. In other words, some grandparents want to see their grandchildren, but are being forbidden, while others have a new found responsibility and struggle to deal with it because they have no “legal rights” established.
GETTING VISITATION WITH YOUR GRANDCHILD The question is: I want to see my grandchildren, but the parent/legal guardian will not let me, what can I do? The short answer is you have to sue. Denial of visitation of a grandchild usually occurs in situations involving divorce. For example, mom and dad divorce each other, and one parent gets residential custody of the child, meaning the child lives with one parent, and the other parent gets reasonable visitation. This is referred to as joint legal custody. If you are the parent of the child who gets “reasonable visitation,” you may quickly find yourself relegated to the back burner when it comes to seeing the grandchild, because your right to see that grandchild will flow directly from your child’s (the non-residential custodian) right to visitation. This means that you don’t see the grandchild unless your child lets you, and if your child never gets the child, then you don’t either.
The best way to remedy this situation is through cooperation. Before going to court all attempts should be made to make things right with the residential parent and see if you can get that visitation using an informal, friendly process that does not involve lawyers or judges. Formal litigation should always be a last resort.
Another situation occurs when your own child dies, and the remaining parent remarries, and starts a new family. This particular situation can make it even more difficult, especially when very young children are involved, and the surviving parent wants to “move on” with his/her life and put the past behind them, including you, the grandparent. This makes for a difficult and stickier situation. The good news is that none of this is ever an issue if everyone gets along and there are no squabbles, again, formal litigation should be a last resort. Most families facilitate visitation very easily and for the most part visitation with a grandchild is not an issue; who doesn’t want a grandparent who is willing and able to provide free babysitting and presents? It is only in situations where there are familial conflicts that lawyers have to get involved.
In Kansas, as stated earlier, your visitation rights depend mostly on the quality of your relationship with your grandchild. The rule in Kansas is that in order for the grandparent to get court ordered visitation the grandparent must show that the grandchild has a substantial relationship with the grandparent. The grandparent must also prove that visitation is in the best interests of the grandchild. On top of that, the court must give deference to a parent’s decision regarding how much visitation will be allowed the grandparent. The judge is required to presume that a parent’s proposals regarding visitation are always in the best interest of the grandchild, unless the Court specifically finds that the parents’ proposals are unreasonable.
The rules just outlined are found in the Kansas Statutes. This means that the legislature enacted a law extending the right to have visitation with a grandchild to the grandparent. The law specifically states:
38-129. Visitation rights of grandparents, (a) The district court may grant the grandparents of an unmarried minor child reasonable visitation rights to the child during the child's minority upon a finding that the visitation rights would be in the child's best interests and when a substantial relationship between the child and the grandparent has been established.
(b) The district court may grant the parents of a deceased person visitation rights, or may enforce visitation rights previously granted, pursuant to this section, even if the surviving parent has remarried and the surviving parent's spouse has adopted the child. Visitation rights may be granted pursuant to this subsection without regard to whether the adoption of the child occurred before or after the effective date of this act.
We encourage and facilitate cooperation, negotiation and mediation with the parents, if at all possible. While it is possible to gain the right to see your
grandchildren through the courts, doing so puts the children in a difficult position, and the grandparents are often at a disadvantage.
There may be a number of reasons for you to seek our help:
Your child may have divorced, causing you to lose touch with the grandchildren at the same time as your own child's time with them becomes restricted.
Your child may have died and the surviving parent is too busy to allow you time to see your grandchildren, or wants to make a new life with another partner.
You may be estranged from your children, and they may not want you to see your grandchildren.
You may be caring for your grandchildren because their parents are unable to, and you wish to determine what your rights are.
Melissa Kelly Schroeder of The Kelly Law Firm L.L.C. can answer your questions about visitation rights, custody and other aspects of your legal relationship to your grandchildren.
High Net Worth Divorce
When your divorce involves particularly valuable or complicated assets, the chance for conflict increases dramatically. Our high net worth divorce attorney in Johnson County, Kansas is ready to help you. At The Kelly Law Firm our aim is to assist in getting you through your divorce as quickly and as efficiently as possible. We understand that no one wants a costly drawn-out dispute about the value of property or to endure painful negotiations about an appropriate division of assets. In complicated divorce cases involving significant financial issues, you should feel confident that your high net divorce lawyer in Overland Park, Kansas will assist you in making important strategic decisions and advocate for you every step of the way.
What is High Net Worth?
The Securities & Exchange Commission defines a “high net worth” individual as “a natural person who has individual net worth, or joint net worth with the person’s spouse, that exceeds $1 million, excluding the value of the primary residence of such person; ora natural person with income exceeding $200,000 in each of the two most recent years or joint income with a spouse exceeding $300,000 for those years and a reasonable expectation of the same income level in the current year."
Even if you or your spouse do not fit this definition but have a high income, multiple valuable assets, businesses, real estate holdings, stock portfolio, or you otherwise maintain an expensive lifestyle, your divorce may be considered a “high net worth” matter. Handling of these issues requires special skills and an understanding of how to properly divide assets and address specific concerns. High net worth divorce matters may require conducting financial audits and evaluation of assets that can take a significant amount of time. Depositions and multiple court appearances may also be required for the client to attend. It’s important for the client to understand these requirements and they should have realistic expectations about the divorce process. Attorney Melissa Kelly Schroeder works with select financial and business experts when necessary, to find solutions and help your divorce proceed as smoothly and as efficiently as possible.
Let Attorney Melissa Kelly Schroeder in Overland Park, Kansas help defend your interests, develop a proper divorce strategy and ensure you receive a fair and equitable settlement or determination by the court.
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The Kelly Law Firm, L.L.C. retains records relating to professional services that
we provide so that we are better able to assist our clients and potential clients
with their legal needs and, in some cases, to comply with professional guidelines.
In order to guard the nonpublic personal information, of our clients and potential
clients, we maintain physical, electronic, and procedural safeguards that comply
with our professional standards and which exceed requirements of federal
regulations to guard that nonpublic personal information.
https://thekellylawfirm.com and the services of The Kelly Law Firm, L.L.C.
will mean you accept those changes.
Other Terms and Conditions
The general terms and conditions of The Kelly Law Firm, L.L.C. are available on
our website or from our office.
to our offices at: The Kelly Law Firm, L.L.C., 11900 W 87th ST Pkwy Suite 250,
Lenexa, KS 66215.