What is a “Petition”?

A “petition” is the document filed in court that requests the court to enter a divorce (or other order affecting the marital relationship) and requests that the court determine other issues, or approve agreements, between the parties.

The first step in starting any domestic action is the filing of the “petition.” The petition is a simple, straight-forward legal document that contains basic information about the parties, the claims made, and the “relief” requested. The spouse who first files the petition is the “Petitioner” (although Kansas law states that the term is not supposed to be used). The other spouse — the spouse against whom the Petition is filed — is called the “Respondent” (although, again, Kansas law states that the term is not supposed to be used).

The following information is included in the petition:

1.  Names of Husband and Wife;
2.  Date and place of marriage;
3.  Whether a divorce, separate maintenance or annulment is requested;
4.  Grounds for the divorce, separate maintenance or annulment;
5.  Names, birthdates (month and year), and ages of any children;
6.  A request that property and debt be divided;
7.  A request for child support and/or spousal support, if applicable;
8.  A request for any other general “relief.”

If the husband and wife have children of their marriage, additional information regarding the residence addresses and the persons with whom the custody of the children has been during the past five years is required to be included in the petition. In addition, if any previous actions have been filed requesting custody orders, those previous actions must be identified by the court in which they were filed, the date when filed and the case number.