Child Custody and Parenting Time
For Kansas parents who are divorcing, separating, or have never been married, child custody is a subject of great importance. Most parents' primary focus is the well-being of their children, and most have deep concerns about how to preserve that well-being. At Schwartz & Park, L.L.P., our priorities are aligned with those of our clients, and we are committed to striving for the custody arrangement that our clients feel will be in the best interests of their children.
Understanding Kansas Custody Law
Some parents may be confused about the difference between legal custody and residential custody. Legal custody refers to which parent has the right to make important decisions for a child, such as medical, educational, and religious decisions. The default custody arrangement in Kansas is for parents to share joint legal custody of their children, although in some circumstances, it is appropriate for one parent to be the legal custodian. Sole custody is not favored in Kansas, and is usually ordered when one parent is not involved, such as when incarcerated. Children may also be placed in the legal custody of those other than parents, such as grandparents, when parents are found to be unfit or the child is in need of care.
Residential custody refers to where the child lives the majority of the time. There are different types of residential custody in Kansas:
- Shared residential custody: This is when the child lives with both parents for equal or nearly equal periods of time. This requires a great deal of cooperation between parents, and usually works best when the parents live a short distance from each other.
- Primary residential custody: The child lives primarily with one parent, with the other parent having visitation rights.
- Divided residential custody: One child lives with one parent and another child with the other parent. Each party has visitation with the child in the custody of the other parent.
Parents may, and often do, agree on a custodial arrangement, which the court will approve in most cases. When parents cannot agree, the court must decide. As in most states, Kansas custody law is focused on what is in the "best interests of the child." The court determines what these best interests are by analyzing several "best interests" factors set forth in statute. These factors include such things as:
- The child’s adjustment to his or her home, school, and community;
- Each parent’s ability to foster a relationship between the child and the other parent;
- The child's interactions and relationships with parents, siblings and any other person who may significantly affect his or her best interests;
- Whether a parent has been convicted of abuse of a child, or is living with someone who has been convicted of abuse of a child.
In addition to the numerous factors listed in the statute, the court may consider any information it deems relevant in determining custody.
Kansas Visitation/Parenting Time
In Kansas, the parent who does not have primary residential custody of the child will have parenting time, sometimes called visitation. Parents may agree on a visitation schedule, or the court may order one if the parents cannot agree.
For families that need or desire flexibility, "reasonable visitation" may be ordered, allowing parents to schedule visitation as needed in a way that works best for them and their children. Many times, it is better for children and parents to have regular, predictable parenting time, so a specific visitation schedule is arranged.
Experienced Kansas Custody and Visitation Attorneys
At Schwartz & Park, L.L.P., we have extensive experience handling Kansas child custody and visitation matters. We understand how important a successful resolution of child custody matters is, not only to our clients, but to their children. We are dedicated to offering every client the attention and answers they need regarding custody and visitation, and to advocating for the outcome that is best for them.
If you are dealing with an initial custody determination, modification of custody, or request to move out of state with a child, we invite you to contact us at (785) 625-0024 or via our online contact form. We look forward to working with you.