In a divorce, everything from the marriage must be sorted out by the courts. Of all the things to sort out between former spouses, a universal concern is property division, specifically Kansas property division.
No divorcing couple should discount the guidance of a licensed attorney who works in these cases. Property division laws can be complicated, vary from state to state and lawyers have the proper training/experience to tell the judge what a divorcing spouse wants and/or needs from the property division.
Property Division Divorce Laws in Kansas
The purpose of Kansas property division laws is to make sure that marital property is allocated to each spouse equitably. Kansas marital property is divided under the considerations of Kansas Statute §60-1610(b) but the trial court judge receives great discretion when converting Kansas marital property into separate Kansas divorce property.
Kansas is an equitable distribution state. This means that with regard to Kansas divorce assets, anything the spouses brought into a marriage usually will not be included in Kansas divorce assets or Kansas divorce property.
However, separate & non-marital property may be included in property division under Kansas Statute §60-1610(b)(1).
What is considered Marital and Non-Marital Property?
Marital property consists of the property listed under Kansas Statute §23-201(b), which falls under this category when paperwork is filed that leads to a final decree of divorce, separate maintenance or annulment:
- All property owned by married persons, including the present value of any vested or unvested military retirement pay
- Professional goodwill to the extent that it is marketable for that particular professional
In addition, each spouse has a common ownership in marital property which vests at the time a divorce or separation is legally filed with the court.
Non-marital property is defined under Kansas Statute §23-201(a). In short, this is:
- The property any person in this state may own at the time of the person's marriage
- Rents, issues, profits or proceeds thereof, and any real, personal or mixed property which shall come to a person by descent, devise or bequest
- Rents, issues, profits or proceeds thereof, or by gift from anyone other than person's spouse
Dividing Assets and Debt
After the court decides which property is available for distribution, the next step is property valuation. The final step is the allocation of marital property.
Under Kansas Statute §60-1610(b)(1), the court considers a number of factors in dividing assets and debt. Some of these are:
- The marriage's length
- The parties' age & health
- The parties' present & future earning capacity
- The parties' family ties & obligations
- Tax consequences to the parties
Using statutory factors, judges decide how a marriage's assets should be divided. Here is a list of the most common property items and the most common allocation scheme used.
- Cash: Divided equitably among the
- Example 1: A joint savings account has $5,000. The court would most likely award $2,500 to each spouse.
- Example 2: A joint savings account has $5,000. One spouse contributed $4,000 and the other contributed $1,000. The amount may be divided in a 50-50 split or may be more balanced if the $1,000 contributor has fewer assets than the $4,000 contributor.
- Retirement Plans: Divided based on the
duration of the marriage at the time the benefits accrued, looking at the
present value of the plan and/or survivor benefits.
- Example 1: A spouse got benefits in a retirement plan after working for 25 years and was married for 20 of those years. The ex-spouse would be entitled to a portion of the retirement plan that was acquired during the marriage.
- Example 2: A spouse has an unvested retirement plan. No division takes place until the plan is payable to the spouse who has it.
- Vehicles: Divided based on the values at
the date determined by the court. May be
sold or given to a spouse outright.
- Example 1: A boat is owned by a spouse. The boat may be sold with the proceeds to be given to a poorer spouse or the boat may be given to a spouse outright.
- Example 2: A car has a shared title. The car may be sold with the proceeds going to each spouse equally or given to a poorer spouse.
- Insurance: Determined based upon each
spouse's health, availability of alternate insurance and premium payments from
- Example 1: One spouse has covered the other under health insurance. The other spouse is in poor health and could not afford alternate health care coverage. The court may order the first spouse to continue covering that spouse for a set time period and/or award a cash payment to the ailing spouse to get new coverage.
- Example 2: One spouse has a life insurance policy where his salary was used to pay for the premiums. The ex-spouse would be entitled to a portion of the payment for the premiums as determined by the court.
Settling Disputes in a Divorce Case with Property and Asset Division
If a spouse is not complying with the property division order or you want to change the division, you may go back to court to seek enforcement or modification just as with any other judgment. The court will then decide how to proceed.
However, the trial court's determinations will not be changed by an appeals court unless there is clear evidence of an abuse of discretion.
Help From a Kansas Property Divorce Lawyer
It can not be stressed enough that retaining a Kansas property divorce lawyer is key to getting the fairest and most equitable result in the property division phase of a divorce. The lawyer can provide professional guidance, keep you informed of likely outcomes and help you present the best arguments and presentation to the trial judge handling the divorce.