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Child Custody - Frequently Asked Questions

What does a court consider in deciding custody disputes?

Which state will hear my custody dispute?

What is the difference between residency and legal custody?

What is "full" custody?

What is the difference between joint legal custody and sole legal custody?

When will a court order sole legal custody?

Can a parent without sole custody still see the child?

If one parent has sole custody, can the other parent receive information about the child?

Can a parent with sole legal custody change the child’s residence without informing the other parent?

What is the difference between "parenting time" and "visitation"?

What is mediation?

Can a parent who is delinquent on child support still see the child?

What is a "parenting plan"?

Can child custody be made permanent?

How is child custody modified?

How can a parent move away with a child?


What does a court consider in deciding custody disputes?

"The court shall determine custody or residency of a child in accordance with the best interests of the child." Read Kansas Statute number 60-1610 with reference to (a) and (3).

The court focuses almost entirely on the best interest of the child. Other factors, such as convenience of the parents, fault, and infidelity matter only if they affect the child’s interests.

In determining the issue of child custody, residency and parenting time, the court shall consider all relevant factors, including but not limited to:

(i) The length of time that the child has been under the actual care and control of any person other than a parent and the circumstances relating thereto;

(ii) the desires of the child’s parents as to custody or residency;

(iii) the desires of the child as to the child’s custody or residency;

(iv) the interaction and interrelationship of the child with parents, sibling and any other person who may significantly affect the child’s best interests;

(v) the child’s adjustment to the child’s home, school and community;

(vi) the willingness and ability of each parent to respect and appreciate the bond between the child and the other parent and to allow for a continuing relationship between the child and the other parent; and

(vii) evidence of spousal abuse.

Read Kansas Statute number 60-1610 with reference to (a), (3), and (B)
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Which state will hear my custody dispute?

Usually, your case will be heard in the state where you child lived for six months prior to the filing of the petition. That state is known as your child’s "home state." However, there might be other rules that apply in your case, especially if your child does not have a "home state" or if one or both parents have moved away from the state with initial jurisdiction.

Read Kansas Statute number 38-1337 with reference to (8); Read Kansas Statute number 38-1338
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What is the difference between residency and legal custody?

"Residency" refers to where your child lives. "Legal custody" refers to which parent makes decisions pertaining to matters of child health, education and welfare.

Read Kansas Statute number 60-1623 with reference to (c); Read Kansas Statute number 60-1610 with reference to (a) and (5)
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What is "full" custody?

"Full" custody does not exist in Kansas. Kansas has two types of legal custody: joint and sole.

Read Kansas Statute number 60-1610 with reference to (a) and (4)
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What is the difference between joint legal custody and sole legal custody?

"Joint legal custody" means that both parents have equal rights to make decisions in the best interests of the child. "Sole legal custody" means that only one parent makes decisions in the best interests of the child.

Read Kansas Statute number 60-1610 with reference to (a) and (4)
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When will a court order sole legal custody?

The law prefers joint legal custody. To order sole legal custody, a court must find that it is not in the best interest of the child that both of the parties have equal rights to make decisions pertaining to the child. The court must include on the record specific findings of fact upon which the order for sole legal custody is based.

Read Kansas Statute number 60-1610 with reference to (a), (4) and (B)
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Can a parent without sole custody still see the child?

In appropriate cases, a parent without sole legal custody might still exercise parenting time with the child. If the child might be at risk with the parent, the court could order supervised parenting time. The supervisor could be someone chosen by the parties or by the court. Some CASA programs supervise parenting time.
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If one parent has sole custody, can the other parent receive information about the child?

The award of sole legal custody to one parent shall not deprive the other parent of access to information regarding the child unless the court shall so order, stating the reasons for that determination.

Read Kansas Statute number 60-1610 with reference to (a), (4) and (B)
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Can a parent with sole legal custody change the child’s residence without informing the other parent?

A parent with sole legal custody usually must still give written notice to the other parent of a change in the residence of the child. Notice usually must also be given when a child is removed from the state for more than 90 days. The notice must be given at least 30 days prior to the change of residence. The notice shall be sent by restricted (not certified) mail, return receipt requested, to the last known address of the other parent.

Read Kansas Statute number 60-1620
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What is the difference between "parenting time" and "visitation"?

Parents do not "visit" their own children. Instead, parents exercise "parenting time" with their children. Grandparents and stepparents may be granted visitation rights.

Read Kansas Statute number 60-1616 with reference to (b)
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What is mediation?

Mediation is a collaborative process where you and your child’s other parent meet with an impartial third party (the mediator) to make decisions regarding your child. Mediation can potentially avoid having a judge make decisions for you. Mediation can also teach you and the other parent how to cooperate regarding your child.
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Can a parent who is delinquent on child support still see the child?

Yes. The child has a right to support and a right to parenting time. These rights are independent of each other. One parent’s failure to comply with a decree does not excuse the other parent from complying with child support, parenting time, or visitation. However, the other party may request by motion that the court grant an appropriate order.

Read Kansas Statute number 60-1612 with reference to (a)
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What is a "parenting plan?"

Your "parenting plan" is an agreement or order of the court. It establishes legal custody, residency, parenting time and other matters regarding your child’s custody arrangement.

Read Kansas Statute number 60-1623 with reference to (c)
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Can child custody be made permanent?

The court usually retains jurisdiction to modify child custody, residency, visitation and support.
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How is child custody modified?

The court may change or modify any prior order of custody, residency, visitation and parenting time when a material change of circumstances is shown.

If the prior order was agreed, instead of litigated, then it is not necessary to show a material change of circumstances. In that case, the court would consider the best interest of the child as if it were deciding custody for the first time.

Read Kansas Statute number 60-1610 with reference to (a), (2) and (A)
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How can a parent move away with a child?

A parent who changes the residence of a child must give the other parent 30 days’ prior notice of the child’s new address. The notice must be sent by certified mail, return receipt requested, with restricted delivery. ("Restricted delivery" means that only the addressee can sign to receive the mail.) Similar notice must also be given of an intent to remove the child from Kansas for more than 90 days.

Read Kansas Statute number 60-1620
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Resources for Child Custody

Johnson County Family Law Guidelines
http://www.jocobar.org/pdf/2001_family_law_guidelines.pdf

Retrouvaille http://www.retrouvaille.org

A weekend retreat for married couples in crisis. We have referred many clients to this last ditch effort, even when they thought all hope was lost. One client told us that although the weekend did not solve her problems, it restored their communication and softened her hurt. She instructed us to dismiss her divorce petition.

Johnson County Domestic Court Services, Custody Mediation
http://courts.jocoks.com/cs_dmed.htm


Parental Alienation http://www.parentalalienation.com/pasdirectory.htm

Parental Alienation is a form of brainwashing in which one parent pervasively convinces a child to hate the other parent.

Alcoholics Anonymous

Kansas City Area Office http://www.kc-aa.org/

Information and Service Center, Shawnee Mission, KS 913-384-2770

Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc. http://www.aa.org/

General legal reference page, with links to all courts, statutes, legal news, and self help resources.
http://www.findlaw.com

Find alawyer in another city.
http://www.lawyers.com
http://www.martindale.com


Resources: Life Management Tools

Get Discounted e-services when you type in promotional code "yourchild1st".

OurFamilyWizard website will give children of divorced and seprated parents a better chance to live with less conflict.


Resources: Interactive Web Sites for Parents in Conflict

Highly recommended – Parents in conflict may come to agree about one specific thing: What do we want our children to look like when they are 25? Try out this concept with your child's other parent and find out what the two of you may have in common!

Each parent visits these sites separately.
Once both parents have completed the interactive site activities, each parent will receive a personalized list of Agreed Commitments. These Agreed Commitments report to you the common ground that you share with the other parent. Parents gain insight as to what is most important for their children in the situation and are provided with personal guidance to assist them in parenting.

You may want to choose from one of the following sites:
These sites were recently chosen by the ABA Dispute Resolution Section for its Problem Solver of the Year Award.

1. http://www.uptoparents.org

UpToParents.org is a free, confidential, and interactive website for divorcing and divorced parents. The core of the site is an interactive tour of 100 Commitments parents can select to help them protect their children during and after divorce.

2. http://www.proudtoparent.org

ProudToParent.org assists parents who were never married to each other.

3. http://www.whileweheal.org

WhileWeHeal.org helps spouses intending to stay married to remember their children's needs as they work through marital problems.


Read the Law: Child Custody

Read the Law
Enter the statute number in the on-line Kansas Legislature Statute Directory. Go to: http://www.kslegislature.org/cgi-bin/statutes/index.cgi

Select the Chapters and Articles below from the Statute Table of Contents:

Chapter 60, Article 16 - Divorce and Maintenance
Chapter 38, Article 13 - Juvenile Justice Code



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