Area of Law:
Divorce may be defined as the legal ending of a marriage. Married couples do not have a legal or a constitutional right to seek a divorce, but states such as Kansas commonly grant divorces because to force a couple to stay married would go against public policy.
"No-fault" and "fault" are the two types of grounds, or justifications, for divorce in the United States. In some states, no-fault is the only viable justification for a divorce, even if fault grounds exist within the marriage. The other states, like Kansas, permit the people involved to select either a no-fault or a fault divorce. The Cornell University Law School website, law.cornell.edu, gives a comprehensive overview of divorce and separation law in the United States.
The United States first adopted the concept of a no-fault divorce in the late 1960's, and nearly all of the states currently allow for some form of it. A no-fault divorce is one in which the parties do not legally fault, or blame, each other for the divorce. Some examples of the grounds for a no-fault divorce include “irreconcilable differences,” “irretrievable breakdown,” or “incompatibility.” The no-fault justification for divorce in Kansas is incompatibility. To file for divorce in Kansas, the petitioner must have been a resident of the state for no less than 60 days.
Many states require a "cooling-off" period of separation for a specific length of time before no-fault divorce proceedings can begin. During this time, the couple is required to live separate and apart with the intent that the separation will become permanent. The duration of the cooling-off period varies according to state law. The cooling-off period in Kansas is 60 days, except in the case of emergency. The legal divorce process begins in Kansas when the petitioner files the dissolution of marriage papers in a county where either of the spouses resides. For a thorough examination of divorce law in Kansas, go to lawyers.com.
Some states also allow fault grounds for divorce. Common fault grounds may include cruelty, desertion, adultery, prison confinement, habitual intemperance (drunkenness or drug addiction), and impotency. In Kansas, the fault grounds for divorce include incompatibility by reason of insanity, mental illness, or incapacity and the failure of one of the spouses to perform their marital duties and obligations.
To prove grounds of insanity, mental illness, or incapacity in Kansas, the petitioner must provide evidence that the other spouse was confined in a mental institution because of mental illness for a period of at least two years. Insanity can also be established through adjudication of mental illness or mental incapacity of the spouse by a court of competent jurisdiction while the spouse is confined in an institution for the reason of mental illness.
Divorce laws in general, as well as the specific grounds required for divorce vary widely across the United States. The American Bar Association provides a variety of information regarding divorce requirements state by state on their Section of Family Law website. A chart comparing all 50 states can be found at abanet.org.
*An example of a Kansas Divorce Settlement Agreement can be seen on Free Legal Aid.