How is property divided in a divorce in Kansas?

Kansas courts have the power to divide all property that a married couple owns. This means that the court has the power to decide how to distribute any and all property and debt that either you or your spouse have obtained — no matter when that property or debt was obtained, by whose efforts it was obtained, in whose name the property is titled, or where the property is located. This “property” includes real and personal property as well as financial accounts, retirement accounts and any other property “interests” either party may have. Although this rule defines “what” Kansas courts can divide, it doesn’t describe “how” that property is divided; “how” Kansas courts divide property in a divorce proceeding is determined by the rule of “equitable division.”

Equitable division. Kansas law provides that property in a divorce proceeding is distributed by the rule of “equitable division.” This rule provides that instead of mechanistically looking at whose name is listed as the “owner” of property or who “earned” the income used to purchase the property, the court reviewing various statutory factors to decide upon a fair, just and equitable division of the property that the married couple owns or to which they have any rights.

Kansas courts try to make any division of assets and debts fair and appropriate for everyone – both the husband and the wife. The Court will not allow a wife to “take her husband to the cleaners,” but will also not allow a husband to “cut his wife off without a dime.” The law requires an “equitable division” of the property, taking all applicable factors into consideration.

Some judges use the Johnson County, Kansas Bar Association Guidelines as a general guide in evaluating the fair division of property in matrimonial actions. However, it must be emphasized that the division of property in any domestic relations action is often much more complex than the mere application of a mathematical formula. The guidelines are not the law of Kansas and are simply a set of general rules of thumb written by lawyers with the idea of trying to set up a framework of understanding so that matrimonial cases are more easily resolved. As stated by those Guidelines: “Although helpful in reaching settlement, the Family Law Guidelines are not binding and have not been adopted by the Court. The Family Law Guidelines are designed to provide a structure for negotiation and a suggested manner of resolving the difficult issues that arise in family law cases . . . The Family Law Guidelines should not be a substitute for critical analysis of any individual case.”

As your attorneys, we will work with you and your spouse to reach a fair division of your property (regardless of who paid for that property, whose name is listed as the owner, or who is listed as the responsible party on debts).