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Understanding Child Custody in Kansas

a child holding a question mark sign
Custody can be a confusing situation. Even though two parties may divorce, children are typically considered to have the right to both parents. When a custody battle ensues, the court steps in to ensure that the child's rights are looked after.
Before delving into the different options available, note that Kansas has its own laws about custody. Some terms are not applicable in Kansas, like full custody, even though they are commonly applied in other states. Here's what you should know about child custody in the state of Kansas.

Understanding the Types of Custody

There are several different types of custody to consider, including legal and physical custody. While a judge can assign custody of a child, custody can also be determined through mediation or cooperative custody agreements.
Sole Legal Custody
When a judge awards sole legal custody, one parent is able to make major decisions for the child involved. While both parents have access to school and medical records, only one parent is considered to hold the child's residence. Even if sole legal custody is awarded to one parent, it does not necessarily limit the child's physical time with the other parent.
In Kansas, sole legal custody is not a preferred outcome for the courts. The court wants children to have both parents involved in their lives.
Joint Legal Custody
If the judge appoints joint legal custody in your situation, then both parties involved are required to discuss major decisions about the child with each other. These decisions include the child's school, medical care and other permanent choices. Additionally, each parent has equal access to records from school and the doctor.
In Kansas, judges prefer to award joint legal custody. Judges try to assign this type of custody when possible because it allows for the presence of both parents in a child's life. It is also important to note that two parents with joint legal custody may not necessarily be awarded physical time with the child.
Physical Custody
Physical custody refers to the actual presence of a child in the home. Shared physical custody means that the child spends nearly equal time with each parent. This is easiest when the two parents live close to each other.
Non-Parental Custody
In rare cases, a judge may determine that neither biological parent is a good custodian for the child. This means that the child will be placed with somebody else, perhaps a grandparent. Non-parental custody is often determined to be the best case scenario if both parents are unable to take care of the child as the court deems fit.
Sometimes a parent is granted visitation rather than custody for a non-residential parent. This individual may have specific visitation times and days scheduled by the court based on the judge's assessment of the case. Visitation may occur at home, a family member's home or in a courtappointed facility.

Going to Court for Custody

When you go to court, the judge will consider a few different factors in order to make an assessment. This will include factors that speak to the best interests of the child. The judge will look for evidence of abuse, cooperation and adjustment to the community. In Kansas, the sex of the parent does not matter.
Whether you choose to pursue mediation or you take the case to court, a lawyer is a helpful tool and resource in guiding you through the process. Kansas has specific laws surrounding custody that a professional can decipher.
Do you still have questions about child custody? Hoffman & Hoffman can provide you with answers. We understand that every family is unique and that we need to handle each situation differently. Our expertise in setting up visitation schedules, child custody arrangements and child support payments can help you establish your family in a way that works for you.