1. How soon am I able to schedule an initial consultation?
At Ward Law Offices, LLC, it is our goal to provide excellent customer service to both our current clients and our potential clients. We try to meet with potential clients within a day or two of the initial telephone call.
2. What should I bring with me to the initial consultation?
An initial consultation is a time where you can meet with an attorney who will answer questions related to your unique situation. It is important to come prepared with questions for the attorney. It is often helpful to bring notes regarding assets (i.e. houses, land, business holdings, general income information, and bank accounts), as well as your most recent income tax return, to the initial meeting. If you are meeting with an attorney regarding a custody matter, please bring copies of any current court orders pertaining to parenting time for the child(ren).
If you have been served with a petition, please bring it and all related paperwork with you to the initial consultation. This will allow your attorney to accurately explain to you what has been filed and how it affects you.
If you are eager to move forward quickly, you may fill out our questionnaire for your matter (either divorce/separation or custody/parenting time matter), and bring the document with you to the meeting. On this website, under Client Resources, there is a link for questionnaires. It is not required that you fill out the questionnaire prior to the initial consultation, but in a situation where you want to file quickly, it is helpful to have this information early. Please note that there is a questionnaire for divorce/separate maintenance, and a separate questionnaire for custody and parenting time.
3. How does my retainer work?
The initial retainer requested by your attorney is based on the complexity and novelty of the issues in your case. The retainer you pay is essentially paying for a block of your attorney’s time up front. We do not accept cases on a flat fee or on a contingency fee basis.
Your retainer funds are held in our trust account until you are billed each month. Your invoice is detailed, and reflects how much time was spent on your case and what amount of your retainer was used. Your attorney will bill his or her time by the tenth of an hour, with a description of what work was accomplished during that time. If your legal fees exceed your retainer amount, it is your responsibility to pay any balance within thirty (30) days. If, however, your case is closed and you have remaining retainer funds, those remaining funds will be promptly refunded back to you.
4. What are the legal grounds for divorce in Kansas?
Kansas allows for both fault and no-fault divorce. In a no-fault divorce, the divorce may be simply based on “incompatibility.” The court will enter a divorce, even if only one party wants the divorce. Kansas courts do also recognize some fault grounds, such as “failure to perform a material marital duty or obligation” and “incompatibility by reason of mental illness or mental incapacity of one or both spouses.” It is important to note that fault grounds generally have no impact on the marital dissolution process in Kansas.
5. How long does it take to get a divorce?
The length of time of any divorce action is heavily dependent on the attitude and degree of cooperation between the parties and attorneys involved. In Kansas, the minimum amount of time for a divorce is sixty (60) days from the date of filing the petition for divorce, although it can be finalized sooner if there is an emergency.
In cases where the divorce is contested, that is, the parties disagree on property division, spousal or child support, or child custody and parenting time, a divorce can take much longer, because the Court will need to set a time for a trial in order to decide the outstanding issue(s).
The Court may, in its discretion, allow an “emergency” divorce. An emergency divorce is granted prior to the expiration of the sixty days, and is usually only allowed if a party has a letter from a medical physician describing that the continuation of the marriage is detrimental to the party’s health and well-being.
6. What is the difference between separate maintenance (legal separation) and divorce?
Divorce and separate maintenance actions are similar in that both actions divide property, and make orders for spousal and child support and custody of children. The difference is that an action for separate maintenance will leave the marriage relationship intact, while divorce severs the marital relationship. You may not remarry until the marital relationship has been severed by divorce.
7. Is it important to be the first to file for divorce?
Kansas is a “no-fault” divorce state, and therefore, the court does not take into consideration who filed first in making its ultimate decision.
There may, however, be some procedural or strategic advantages to be the first person to file a petition. For example, the person who first files a petition has the opportunity to request the issuance of ex parte temporary orders (orders issued on application and presentation of only one side to the dispute).
8. What are Temporary Orders?
In a divorce or separate maintenance matter, at the time a petition is filed, the person filing the petition can request that various orders be issued by the court. These “temporary orders” govern the relations between the parties from the time they are entered until the decree is issued. They control all aspects of the case during this time, including child support, child custody, parenting time, spousal maintenance, and who controls what property.
In paternity cases, temporary orders are not obtained at the time of the filing of the petition. A motion and hearing is required in order for the court to issue such orders in these matters.
9. How is child support determined?
Child support is determined by statewide child support guidelines. The Kansas Child Support Guidelines can be found here.
Child support is usually paid by the “non-primary-residential” parent to the “primary-residential” parent; however, even if the child is with both parents an equal amount of time, the court may order that one parent pay the other some amount of child support, pursuant to the formula in the Guidelines. Generally, the parties cannot agree that neither will pay child support, as the support is meant for the child, and cannot be waived by the parents.
Some of the factors the court will take into consideration when determining child support include: the age of the child, the number of children to be supported, the parents’ incomes, health insurance premiums, child care costs, special needs expenses for a disabled child and other factors.
Child support is usually paid until the child reaches the age of majority (which is 18 years of age or June 30 if the child’s 18th birthday occurs while the child is attending high school). The parties can agree to child support being paid beyond the child reaching majority, but it cannot be ordered by the Court.
11. Who decides how our property is divided?
Generally, you are free to agree with your spouse on how to divide your property and debts. This includes all property and debt that you and your spouse own or possess, regardless of when the property or debt was obtained and whose name the property or debt is in. If the division of property cannot be settled between the parties, then the court must make the determination.
Kansas is an “equitable distribution” state. Equitable does not necessarily mean equal. Instead of always making a perfect 50/50 division of property, the court divides property in a manner it determines to be fair given the circumstances of the parties, considering the following factors:
- The age of both parties;
- The duration of the marriage;
- Each spouse’s present and future earning capacity;
- The property owned by each spouse;
- The sources and manner which property was acquired;
- The dissipation of assets;
- Family ties and obligations;
- Tax consequences on each party; and
- Any other factors the court deems relevant.
12. What is spousal maintenance?
In Kansas, alimony or spousal support is referred to as spousal maintenance. There is no automatic right to spousal maintenance in Kansas. The attorneys at Ward Law Offices, LLC, are specially equipped to analyze your case and help you understand the complexities of paying or receiving spousal maintenance.
13. What do courts consider in determining spousal support?
- The age of both parties;
- Their current and future earning capacities;
- Their current and future financial needs
- Their health
- Their family ties and obligations;
- Their overall financial resources and abilities to support themselves separately;
- The length of their relationship and marriage;
- Their education and job experience;
- Whether there is a need for spousal support and the ability to pay spousal support;
- Whether the parties agree that spousal maintenance is appropriate; and
- Whether some support is necessary to enable a spouse to complete and education or become self-supporting.
14. What is mediation?
“Mediation” is a form of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). Mediation is a way to resolve disputes between two or more persons without having the take the issues before a judge in a courtroom. Mediation is conducted by a trained mediator, who has the goal to assist the parties in reaching an agreement of the disputed issues, although this is not always possible. If an agreement is not reached, the issues continue towards trial.
15. When is my divorce considered “final?”
The divorce is “final” on the day the Decree of Divorce is filed by the Clerk of the Court, if there is no appeal. This is usually on the same day the Decree is signed by the judge. If the Decree of Divorce is appealed, the divorce is not final until the appeal is decided.
You may not marry anyone except your spouse for thirty days after the divorce becomes “final,” unless both agree to waive their right to appeal.
16. Can I modify the Court’s original judgment concerning my child(ren)?
Generally, either party can seek a modification of the court’s decree, including rulings on child custody, visitation, child support or spousal maintenance. The party seeking the modification will have to prove a certain standard before the court will modify its decree or a previous agreement of the parties.
17. How does the court determine paternity?
Parentage (paternity) of a child is determined either because the mother and father are married or because a court decrees (finds) that the mother and father are the child’s parents. In Kansas, a court determines that a mother and father are the child’s parents under a set of laws called the “Kansas Parentage Act.”
The Kansas Parentage Act provides that the parent and child relationship may be established:
- Whether some support is necessary to enable a spouse to complete and education or become self-supporting.
- Between the mother and the child by proof that the woman gave birth to the child.
- Between a father and the child by the father signing a voluntary acknowledgement of paternity under the requirements of Kansas law (unless that acknowledgement is withdrawn within a certain time).
- Between a mother or father and the child by proof of adoption.
- Between a mother or father under other provisions of the Kansas Parentage Act, including that:
- The man and the child’s mother are married to each other and the child was born during the marriage;
- The man and the child’s mother were married to each other and the child was born during the marriage;
- The man and the child’s mother were married to each other and the child was born within 300 days after one of them died.
- The man and the child’s mother were married to each other and the child was born within 300 days after the marriage terminated by the filing of a decree of annulment or divorce.
- Before the child’s birth, the man and the child’s mother attempted to marry each other by a marriage solemnized in apparent compliance with law, and although the attempted marriage is “void,” the child was born within 300 days after the parties terminated their cohabitation.
- Before the child’s birth, the man and the child’s mother attempted to marry each other by a marriage solemnized in apparent compliance with the law, and although the attempted marriage is “voidable,” the child was born within 300 days after the marriage terminated by the death of either the man or the child’s mother or by the filing of a decree of divorce or annulment.
- Genetic test results indicate a probability of 97% or greater that the man is the father of the child.
- The man has a duty to support the child under an order of support regardless of whether the man was ever married to the child’s mother.
- If two or more of these presumptions exist and provide conflicting presumptions about which of two (or more) men may be the child’s father, the law directs that the court is to use the presumption “founded on the weightier considerations of policy and logic, including the best interests of the child.”
- Where two (or more) men are alleged to be the child’s father, the case may become very complex. In these situations, it is critical that the alleged parents retain an attorney to protect their rights and to advise about the correct course of action.
18. How do I pay my retainer or invoice?
We accept cash, check, and credit cards (Visa, MasterCard and Discover). For your convenience, we offer online bill pay. You can pay your bill online.
19. Where is the office located?
We are located on the west edge of downtown Wichita, Kansas. Our address is 345 N. Riverview, Ste. 120, Wichita, Kansas, 67203.
From Kellogg, drive north on Broadway. Turn left onto 2nd Street. Continue west on 2ndStreet, through the signal at 2nd and Waco. Proceed through the signal, and make a right on the first side street which is Riverview. Follow Riverview, and turn left into the Riverview Building parking lot. Visitor parking is available in the first row of parking around the building. Ward Law Offices is located on the first floor, in Ste. 120.