Kansas Parenting Plans and Custody Agreements
You can write up your own parenting plan (on your own or with the other parent) or you can work with an attorney or legal professional and have them create it. If you don't want to pay the high cost of an attorney, and want to easily make your own agreement, you can use the Custody X Change software.
Custody X Change is software that creates professional parenting plan documents and parenting schedules.
Becoming familiar with Kansas family law statutes can help you make a proposed parenting plan that complies with the law and the requests of the court.
The laws pertaining to child custody and parenting plans are found in the Kansas Statutes Annotated, Chapter 60, Article 16: Divorce and Maintenance.
The law provides the factors the court considers when determining child custody, outlines the objectives mandated by the State that are to be addressed in the plan, and dictates the minimum provisions that are to be included in the parenting plan.
The State of Kansas requires the parents involved in a family dissolution case to submit a parenting plan and your Kansas parenting plan will serve many purposes (KSA 60-1625).
A parenting plan must provide your child with proper physical care and mental health and should protect your child from exposure to parental conflict.
It allocates specific parental rights and responsibilities to either or both of you.
It should establish an appropriate parenting time schedule and provide a method for modifications as your child grows and his or her needs change.
Above all else, your parenting plan should protect and preserve the best interests of your child.
In most circumstances, yes it will. When you and your ex can mutually agree and submit a parenting plan to the court, it is presumed to be in the best interest of the child, and is typically accepted.
Should the court find that the plan does not meet the needs and best interest of the child, the court will modify it or create an entirely new plan for you.
The court considers many factors when determining a child's best interests (KSA 60-1610a-3B):
- The desires of the child's parents and the child as to custody or residency
- The interaction and interrelationship of the child with parents, siblings, and any other significant persons in the child's life
- The child's adjustment to home, school, and community
- The willingness and ability of each parent to respect and appreciate the bond between the child and the other parent and to encourage the relationship between the child and the other parent
- If there has been evidence of spousal abuse or child abuse or if a parent has been convicted of a crime
- If either parent is living with someone who has been convicted of a crime or of child abuse
- If the child has been under the actual care and control of any person other than a parent and the circumstance relating to that
As you can see, some of these factors can help you make the best possible agreement for your child.
By putting your child at the center of the agreement you should be able to make arrangements that will help your child grow and thrive. This can also help you and the other parent work together for the common welfare of your child.
There are four elements the State of Kansas requires to be included in a parenting plan (found in KSA 60-1625b):
- A designation of legal child custodianship.
- A parenting time schedule that indicates the times the child will spend with each parent, when appropriate.
- A provision for a method of dispute resolution for the parents if they should be unable to compromise or come to an agreement in the future.
- Provisions for child custody and parenting time if either parent is a service member, as defined in K.S.A. 2009 Supp. 60-1630, and becomes mobilized, deployed, etc.
You may include any provisions you find to be relevant in your parenting plan.
There are many provisions that are suggested by the court which may be included in your parenting plan / custody agreement (KSA 60-1625c):
- A detailed parenting time schedule that includes specific provisions pertaining to the child's regular residential schedule, a holiday and vacation schedule, and three day weekends. Being as detailed as possible will enable you to avoid conflict and disputes about who is supposed to have the child. You may include provisions for any potential scenarios you can imagine.
- An allocation of the parental rights and responsibilities that will detail whether or not one or both of you will be responsible for making important decisions in your child's life, such as educational needs, medical needs, the child's religious upbringing, and any activities. For example, both of you may be held responsible for the child's medical needs while one of you is designated to make the religious decisions and the other parent is involved in the child's extracurricular activities.
- A stipulation concerning the access and sharing of information regarding the child.
- A provision pertaining to parental relocation and any implications this would have on the parenting time of each parent.
- A statement granting the parents reasonable telephone access to the child and vice versa.
- A provision detailing the transportation of the child during the exchange between the parents. This may include who is responsible for the cost of the transportation and when and where the exchanges will occur.
- Methods for dispute resolution should you become unable to reach an agreement in the future.
Article 60-16-1610-4 has the types of legal custodial arrangements that are acceptable in Kansas, in order of preference:
- Joint legal custody: The parents have equal rights to make decisions in the best interests of the child.
- Sole legal custody: One parent has the right to make decisions in the best interest of the child.
You should remember that Kansas does have a preference for a joint legal custody arrangement, and if joint custody isn't granted or one parent wants sole legal custody, there must be reasons why it is in the best interest of the child.
In fact, if the court doesn't grant joint legal custody they must include the specific findings of fact upon which sole legal custody is based.
The State of Kansas uses the term "residential arrangements" to define what is often (in other states) called a parenting time schedule or a custody and visitation schedule. This is the outline of time when the child is with each parent.
The options for residential arrangements (found in 60-16-1610-5) are:
- Residency: the child resides with one or both parents on a basis consistent with the best interest of the child.
- Divided residency: the child resides with one parent and has parenting time with the other. This is only done in exceptional cases.
- Nonparental residency: if neither parent is fit to have residency, the court can award temporary residency to the child's grandparent, aunt, uncle, or adult siblings. This is only done if allowing the child to remain in home will harm the child.
As you think about residency, you should know that Kansas has no presumption toward the mother or father as the residential parent. This includes presuming that a young child or infant should have residency with the mother. So, you should create the residential schedule based on what is best for the child.
The court will create a parenting plan for you if you request it or if you fail to reach an agreement with the other parent.
However, as parents, you know your child best and are theoretically more suitable than a judge would be to create a specific parenting plan that allows your child reasonable, quality amounts of time with both of you.
Negotiating with the other parent when you create the parenting schedule is an essential factor in preserving the child's best interests.
Taking the time to create a comprehensive parenting plan will greatly benefit you and your child. By providing as many details as possible and addressing potential scenarios beforehand, you will help avoid conflict, which will allow both of you to have more quality time to spend with your child.
The top fifteen cities in Kansas (by population, US Census Bureau, 2008) are: Wichita, Overland Park, Kansas City, Topeka, Olathe, Lawrence, Shawnee, Manhattan, Lenexa, Salina, Hutchinson, Leavenworth, Leawood, Garden City, Emporia.