Dividing Marital Property in a Kansas Divorce

Puzzle house is divided into two equal parts by a lawyer in a divorce process. Disputes over fair division of marital property real estate.

If a married couple gets a Kansas divorce, a state statute gives the court the authority to determine an equitable division of the marital property as part of the divorce proceeding. In many divorce cases, the spouses can reach an agreement on property division. However, if the parties cannot agree, the judge determines the issues relating to equitable division. If you are considering a divorce, getting advice and assistance from an experienced family law attorney on dividing marital property and other divorce issues is strongly recommended.

Dividing Marital Property Laws in Kansas

Marital property owned by spouses is subject to rules of equitable division in a Kansas divorce. Equitable does not necessarily mean equal, nor does it involve application of a mathematical formula. State law requires that the division of property should be “just and reasonable,” which requires taking a number of factors into account.

Generally, marital property includes everything acquired or accumulated by either spouse during the marriage. All types of property can be marital property subject to division, including real property, personal property, financial accounts, tangible assets (like artwork and collections), business investments, and retirement accounts.

Separate property of a spouse is not included in equitable division. However, a spouse owning separate property must be able to demonstrate that the property in question is separate and not marital property. Examples of separate property may include property owned prior to the marriage and maintained as separate property during the marriage or defined as separate in a prenuptial agreement, as well as gifts or an inheritance received during the marriage that are maintained as separate property.

The statute contains specific criteria for the court to consider in making an equitable division of marital property. The factors include:

  • Ages of the parties
  • Duration of the marriage
  • Property owned by the spouses
  • Present and future earning capacities of the parties
  • Time, source, and manner of property acquisition
  • Tax consequences

In addition, the court may take into account any other factor the judge considers necessary to accomplish a just and reasonable division.

In a divorce involving issues relating to marital property and separate property or disagreements over division of property, representation by a knowledgeable divorce attorney is crucial. Applying equitable division rules to property in a divorce can be a complicated process. Attempting to navigate the rules without professional legal assistance is a serious mistake.

Division of Property

In many cases, divorcing spouses can agree on the division of property, especially when legal counsel represents each spouse. (A single lawyer cannot represent both spouses in a divorce.) When the parties reach a property settlement agreement, the court generally approves the agreement as long as it is fair and equitable to both parties.

If the parties cannot agree and the court makes the equitable distribution, the law gives the judge several options for addressing the division, as follows:

  • Dividing the property in kind
  • Awarding all or part of the property to one spouse and requiring the other spouse to pay a “just and proper sum”
  • Ordering a sale of the property, under conditions prescribed by the court, and dividing the proceeds of the sale

Under the statute, the court also has authority to require changes in beneficiary designations on insurance and annuity policies, transfer-on-death or pay-on-death accounts, and trusts.

Property division often includes determining valuation of specific items of property as part of the equitable distribution process. A court hearing may be necessary in some cases for complex valuation issues. Retirement or pension plans, which are subject to division even if only one spouse owns the plan, frequently pose complicated issues. Business interests can also present difficult valuation issues in a divorce.

Division of Debts

Equitable distribution includes not only division of property. It also includes division of marital debts between the parties, including both secured and unsecured debt. While disagreements over property division are more common, the distribution of debts between the spouses can be an equally difficult conflict to resolve in some circumstances. As with property division, the court has authority to divide marital debts if the parties are unable to agree on a fair division.

If debt and property are potential issues in your divorce, you should talk with a knowledgeable divorce attorney to ensure that you fully understand your legal rights and financial obligations before you enter into an agreement with your spouse. The emotional and financial strain of separation and divorce can make it difficult to make an accurate, objective assessment of your property and debt situation. Your lawyer can professionally and objectively analyze the circumstances, explain all the legal rules and how they apply, and — most importantly — protect your interests throughout the divorce process.

Schedule a Consultation with a Kansas Divorce Attorney

At Sloan Law Firm, our family law and divorce practice includes assisting clients with marital property division and debt division, as well as all other issues that arise in a divorce proceeding. With offices in Topeka and Lawrence, we assist clients throughout Kansas and invite you to contact us by calling (785) 357-6311 or using our online contact form.

Categories: Divorce, Family Issues