Family Law Overview

Each day, thousands of families are challenged by legal issues that will have lasting impacts throughout their lives. Decisions that families make when faced with these critical issues can be some of the most difficult ones family members will ever make because of the potential long-term consequences those decisions may bring.

Family law issues are unique in the legal field because they frequently involve a volatile mixture of emotion, history, asset, and agendas. Taking apart and creating resolutions to those oftenconflicting pieces requires lawyers who not only know the law along with all of the nuances that state laws often bring, but who also see and understand the bigger picture. An experienced family law attorney, such as the attorneys at Burke McClasky Stevens, should be able to provide clients with comprehensive service and guidance to enable them to make sound decisions and foster creative thinking about future plans.

Generally, family law relates to the rights and obligations of spouses, children, and other domestic relations. City, state, and federal laws all can affect families in a variety of ways. Family law encompasses a wide variety of legal matters that bear on the relationships among family members. Typical issues include divorce (including spousal support, property division, and post-divorce modification and enforcement), premarital agreements, child support, child custody, establishment of paternity, termination of parental rights, adoption, child dependency and neglect, domestic violence, and guardianships or conservatorships.

More often than not, the catalyst for engagement in various family law issues is the dissolution of a marriage or divorce. It is usually the first trigger for a host of other family law issues to follow. In Kansas, the legislature has enacted statutes that recognize both no-fault and fault grounds for divorce. In a no-fault divorce, the reason the petitioner provides for the divorce is simply that the parties are incompatible and does not require any additional justification. Kansas also recognizes a few fault grounds for divorce including failure to perform a material marital duty or obligation, or incompatibility by reason of mental illness or mental incapacity of one or both spouses.

As part of the divorce, the issue of division of marital property will also arise. Kansas law requires that a division be equitable based on a host of factors, and some couples are able to agree on their own about how to divide property. Others use the help of attorneys or a mediator to negotiate a settlement agreement.

If the divorcing couple has children from the marriage, then child custody issues will have to be addressed. They must attempt to agree upon a custody arrangement and parenting schedule, otherwise, a court must make decisions about child custody and visitation. Under Kansas law parents can be awarded legal custody, residency, or both. Legal custody refers to right and responsibility to make educational, religious, moral, and legal decisions about the child. Residency refers to the right to decide where the child will live. Kansas courts must make these decisions to arrive at what is in the best interests of the child, which requires a consideration of all relevant factors.

Relevant to child custody matters are those related to child support. Kansas recognizes that both parents have a duty to support their children financially. Typically a court will order the parent without primary residency to pay support to the parent who is the primary caregiver. Kansas statutes contain a set of child support guidelines that help courts determine how much child support to award. Even after support has been awarded, a parent can request a modification at any time if either parent has experienced a change in circumstances.

This presents a basic overview of the most commonly-encountered family law issues. The potential issues involved in a person’s case can have more issues, or present more nuances that he or she might not be aware of. Burke McClasky Stevens is ready to serve clients facing family law issues in Kansas City and the surrounding areas, including Johnson, Clay, Platte, and Ray Counties. You may contact us for an initial consultation by calling 913-242-7522. We will take the time to listen, analyze your case, and tailor a strategy that fits your needs and has the best chance of achieving a favorable outcome.