Kansas Family Law Code Legislative Amendments Effective July 1, 2014

The 2014 Kansas Legislature made some minor — and some major — changes to the Kansas Revised Family Law Code; all for the best.

House Bill 2568 is a continuation of efforts by the Kansas Judicial Council to update, unify, and modernize Kansas domestic relations statutes into the Kansas Revised Family Law Code. In past years, the Kansas Legislature has merged domestic relations statutes found in three separate parts of the Kansas statutes into one chapter, divided out statutes within the family law code into logical articles addressing similar issues (e.g. divorce and parentage procedure, child support, child custody and parenting time).

The provisions in HB2568 continue the revision process:

1. Remove most non-uniform provisions from the Kansas Uniform Parentage Act.

Before enactment of the Kansas Parentage Act, Kansas law provided few rights or remedies for fathers of children born out of wedlock. Until 1970, only two proceedings were available in Kansas in which the paternity of an “illegitimate” child could be legally determined: an action under the Kansas “bastardy” statute, which was available only to the child’s mother and which must be brought in the name of the State (K.S.A. 62-2301 [Corrick]), and a common law, non statutory action to determine paternity brought in the name of the child (Doughty v. Engler, 112 Kan. 583, 585, 211 P. 619 (1923)). Effective July 1, 1970, the Kansas Legislature repealed the bastardy statute and enacted statutes governing “paternity proceedings.” K.S.A. 38-1101 et seq. The major changes instituted by the 1970 act was a provision limiting the cause of action to one year after the birth of the child (K.S.A. 38-1104) and the characterization of the proceedings as civil rather than criminal.

In 1985, the Kansas Legislature enacted a version of the Uniform Law Commission’s “Uniform Parentage Act (1973).” But because Kansas statutes did not contain any provisions directing how courts court determine a father’s visitation rights or Kansas specific child support perimeters, the legislature included in the enactment provisions from the Kansas divorce code.

The 2014 amendments remove most of the Kansas specific changes to the uniform language of the Uniform Parentage Act, instead making references to the Family Law Code articles addressing that particular issue (e.g. rules for determination of child support reference article 31, which deals with child support for both marital and non-marital situations). These changes remove unnecessary duplications in the Code.

2. Further editing of the Kansas Revised Family Law Code to move provisions more appropriately placed in other Chapters or articles.

3. Section 7 of the bill amends statutes dealing with issuance of temporary orders in divorce actions allowing the court to modify or vacate any temporary orders until entry of a final order in the case. This provision is meant to “correct” a ruling of the Kansas Supreme Court (In re Marriage of Brown) that in past sessions the Legislature had changed the statutes in a way that would not allow Kansas courts to modify or vacate temporary support orders at trial when evidence was finally presented to the court.

4. Section 8 of the bill amends the statutes to require that, “Any person who files a motion requesting a child support order or modification order shall include in such filing a completed domestic relations affidavit and proposed child support worksheet.” This amendment is made to correct a Kansas Court of Appeals decision (In re Marriage of Jones), which determined that a Kansas Supreme Court rule requiring the filing of a financial affidavit with a motion to modify support was not jurisdictional and was not authorized by statute. The result has been an allowance of “sneak attacks” and late-filing of financial information.

5. Section 9 of the bill changes the date on which any modified child support amount can become effective from 30 days after the filing of a motion to modify to the first day of the month following the motion filing.

6. Section 10 of the bill updates the factors a court is to consider when entering a parenting plan.

7. Institutes a “two-tier” method for determining retroactive child support orders in cases where parentage is being determined. If a parent requests an award of child support for 5 years or less retroactive from the date of filing, the new statutes provide the obligation is determined by applying the Kansas Child Support Guidelines to determine the amount due. If, on the other hand, support is request for more than 5 years before the filing of the petition to determine parentage, although support may be based on the Kansas Child Support Guidelines calculation, the burden shifts to the parent requesting the support to show that the amount requested is not more than the actual expenditures made on behalf of the child during that period.

This change was made for two reasons: First, to encourage the prompt filing of cases to determine parentage so that both parents may early on become involved with their child if they desire. Second, to ameliorate the sometimes harsh results when a person is sued for determination of parentage and retroactive child support without knowing about the child’s existence 10, 15, or 18 years after birth.

The sections and articles as amended effective July 1, 2014 may be found here: