Kansas courts have broad discretion in awarding alimony

For many reasons, divorce can be a difficult experience. While the emotional part of ending a marriage can be challenging enough, the transition to a single household can bring financial challenges for most people. A Kansas divorce decree will include financial provisions that control matters of asset division and support going forward. Contact a Mathews Group attorney to see how you can avoid unnecessary financial challenges.

Alimony basics

Alimony is the payment of support from one ex-spouse to the other. Also called spousal maintenance or spousal support, alimony historically was usually paid by a husband to a wife, who typically had stayed out of the workforce to care for the home and children. In modern times, alimony is not gender specific, but normally depends on the circumstances of the family.

Negotiated alimony

In many cases, divorcing spouses are able to negotiate spousal support as part of an overall marital settlement agreement. Ideally, each spouse is represented by legal counsel who coordinates the negotiation process and advises the client of his or her legal rights along the way.

Judicially ordered alimony

If the parties are unable to come to an agreement about spousal maintenance, however, alimony issues must be determined by the Kansas state court judge handling the divorce. The judge must decide whether alimony will be ordered at all, how much it will be, the payment schedule and when it will end.

Alimony reform

Kansas alimony law does not require the judge to adhere to any specific alimony formula, as some other states do. In fact, in some other states, serious alimony reform has passed or is being debated. Some reformers think that lifelong alimony should be eliminated; that alimony should end at retirement of the paying spouse or the cohabitation of the receiving spouse with an intimate partner; that judicial discretion in determining alimony should be tightened; that even spouses who did not work in the marriage should be required to reenter the workforce for self-support; and more.

Kansas standards

Kansas, however, has not yet jumped on the current alimony reform bandwagon. Instead, the alimony statute requires simply that either spouse may be ordered to pay spousal support "in an amount the court finds to be fair, just and equitable under all of the circumstances." It may be paid out in a lump sum, in regular payments, as a percentage of earnings or in any other way.

Finally, the Kansas alimony statute provides that future support payments may be modifiable or set to terminate under particular circumstances.

Kansas state courts have held that certain factors should be considered by judges when they consider awarding alimony:

  • The parties' ages
  • Earning capabilities, current and future
  • Marriage length
  • Other assets and the circumstances under which they were acquired
  • Needs
  • "Family ties and obligations"
  • "Parties overall financial situation"

Family law counsel

Representation by an experienced Kansas divorce attorney is important at a divorce trial because the judge's order and findings on appeal will only be reversed if he or she made legal or factual errors, or clearly abused judicial discretion, which is defined as taking a judicial action that was "arbitrary, fanciful, or unreasonable." Accordingly, Kansas judges deciding matters in divorce like alimony have wide discretion within which to fashion the terms of divorce decrees. We encourage you to schedule a free consultation online or call us at 913-660-0664 to discuss your case today.