Ending a marriage is an incredibly difficult experience. If you believe your marriage is beyond reconciliation and there is no other option but to end it, a conventional divorce may not be the best solution to your unique situation. Kansas state law provides several different options for ending marriages, each of which comes with their own advantages and drawbacks.
If it is time to end your marriage in Topeka, KS, it’s vital to know your options for accomplishing this and what your selected method entails for the future. A standard divorce is the most common option, but this is not preferable to every married couple, and an alternative means of legally dissolving your marriage may provide a more agreeable result in your case.
The conventional legal method for ending a marital contract is divorce. A divorce case proceeds through the family court system, similar to most other civil cases. The parties involved in a divorce have the opportunity to privately settle some aspects of their divorce, but the court must weigh in on certain factors. Divorce mediation is the most popular form of alternative dispute resolution for divorcing couples in Topeka, KS because of the cost-effectiveness and efficiency of the process.
Divorce mediation involves both spouses meeting with a neutral mediator, with or without their respective legal representatives. Mediation sessions allow the divorcing couple to negotiate spousal support, property division, and various other aspects of their divorce. It’s also possible to draft a child support and child custody agreement through mediation, but a judge will need to review and approve it.
In the event divorce mediation is not an option, a divorcing couple must prepare for litigation. Their divorce will play out in court, just like most other civil cases. Each spouse has the opportunity to call witnesses, and both must provide testimony and answer questions from both legal teams. A judge oversees these proceedings and delivers a final ruling on the divorce. This method is more expensive and time-consuming than mediation, and the results are completely outside of your control.
In some cases, a married couple may no longer wish to be romantically attached or hold themselves out as each other’s spouses, but divorce is not a practical solution. This is most common among older couples who decide to end their marriages. The legal separation process in Kansas is functionally identical to standard divorce proceedings for the most part, allowing the couple to settle the terms for their separation. The only difference is the couple remains legally married for their own purposes.
This may seem like an odd option, but legal separation can offer significant benefits to some people. For example, if one spouse provides medical insurance coverage to the other through their work and the supported spouse cannot afford insurance on their own, legal separation is an option. It would allow them to live and function separately while still enjoying the benefits of being legally married.
Legal separation often opens the possibility of a separation agreement. This is essential to a divorce agreement that outlines each spouse’s rights and responsibilities as a legally separated couple. They remain legally married but are allowed to acquire debts and assets, create contracts, and live as if they are unmarried after completing the legal separation process.
Divorce ends a marriage while an annulment officially declares that a marriage was invalid and never legally existed in the first place. This is a more important distinction than many people realize as an annulment can render some previous court orders obsolete. Annulments are completely different processes from divorces and typically proceed much faster on average. However, this is mostly due to the fact that qualifying for an annulment means meeting very specific criteria. It is only possible to qualify for annulment under certain circumstances:
- A marriage is invalid on the grounds of bigamy if one of the spouses was already married and never divorced their previous spouse when they entered the current marriage.
- A marriage can be invalid due to incurable illness, impotence, or lack of mental capacity.
- Marriage contracts are not valid if signed under duress.
- A marriage is not valid if one of the spouses was underage when the marriage occurred and did not have appropriate parental consent to marry per Illinois state law.
- Marriage can be declared invalid on the grounds of incest if a previously unknown biological link between spouses is discovered.
An annulment is a more sensitive legal matter, so it’s vital to secure appropriate legal representation if you intend to explore this option for ending your marriage.
Kansas has a unique emergency divorce statute to provide more expedient divorce decrees to individuals in dangerous situations. For example, if a married spouse has suffered domestic abuse from their spouse or their spouse abused the couple’s children, victims can file for an emergency divorce. That way, they can have more immediate access to child support and spousal maintenance.
After filing for an emergency divorce, the court will set a hearing to determine the validity of the claim. If the petitioner can make a compelling case, or if the respondent does not appear for this hearing, the court will likely grant an emergency divorce.
Essential Considerations When Ending Your Marriage
No matter how you go about ending your marriage in Topeka, there are several essential factors that demand consideration in any divorce case. First, if you and your spouse have minor children, their care and custody will be the main topic of discussion and deliberation during your divorce case. It is also vital to consider property distribution, spousal maintenance, and many other variables in a divorce.
Even if you annul your marriage, you may still need to determine support for children conceived with the annulled spouse or secure financial support if you relied on them for their income. Work closely with an experienced Topeka, KS divorce attorney as soon as possible once you are certain it is time to end your marriage. Your attorney can help you collect evidence and records to support your position in the proceedings to come.