What do I have to do to start a domestic relations case?


How someone starts a domestic relations case depends very much upon where they are at in their decision to end their relationship.

We often consult with people who are just starting to think about divorce. They want to gather information about what’s involved in filing a divorce, what rights and responsibilities they have, how the court will consider their situation, and what needs to be done before they file the divorce. It’s best to think about all of these things before jumping immediately into filing a divorce.

We recommend that people considering filing a divorce consult with a few lawyers in order to find the best “fit.” A divorce is often a highly emotional and chaotic time in a person’s life. There are many good lawyers who handle divorce and other family law matters. But if the lawyer you choose does not fit your personality, you may have a disastrous experience.

The first step taken in actually starting any domestic relations action is the filing of the “petition.” The petition is a simple, straightforward legal document that contains the basic information about the action for the court’s information.

The spouse who first files the petition is the “petitioner” – although Kansas law says that term is not supposed to be used to refer to that person. The other spouse — the spouse against whom the Petition for Divorce is filed — is the “respondent.”

The following information is included in the petition:

– Names of Husband and Wife;
– Date and place of marriage;
– Grounds for divorce, separate maintenance or annulment;
– Names, dates of birth, and ages of any children of the marriage;
– A request that the parties’ property and debt be divided;
– A request for child support and/or spousal support, if applicable;

If there are minor children of the marriage, then additional information about the children’s residence addresses and the persons with whom they have lived during the past five years must be included in the petition.

In addition, the spouse filing the divorce will often need to fill out for filing a “domestic relations affidavit” (or “financial affidavit”) so that the court has basic information about the parties’ assets and debts, as well as employment and income information.