Filing For Divorce
The initial step in getting a divorce is to file a Petition for Divorce in the county you or your spouse resides in.
A Petition for Divorce is a lawsuit filed by one spouse suing the other for a divorce. The Petition will contain both spouses’ name and address, a ground for the divorce, a request for the divorce and orders regarding your children or your property. The Petition gets signed by you and your attorney and then filed with the court and assigned to a judge.
Where to File
The idea of where to file the petition speaks to the “Jurisdiction” and “venue”, and the case could be dismissed if the petition is not filed in the appropriate venue and jurisdiction. The venue for a divorce is covered by K.S.A. Section 60-607. It requires that a petition requesting a divorce be filed in the county where either spouse lives at the time of filing or any county where the non-filing spouse can be served. Issues can emerge when parties get into a “race to the courthouse” by recording competing Petitions in different counties. The courts will consider whoever serves the other spouse first the party to have the controlling petition.
Venue, or what county within a state, your Petition is filled in can make a difference. There are different local rules for many counties and some may benefit you more than others. Exploring those options with your attorney is key to making an informed decision about where to file.
Filing is commonly done electronically. Petitioning for a divorce requires the filing party to pay a fee. The court has discretion when determining if a party qualifies for a fee waiver when filing for divorce, as the Unified States Supreme Court held in Boddie v. Connecticut. The fees associated with a divorce action can be waived in extreme financial situations.
After filing your Petitioner, it and any other filings or orders must all be served on the non-filing party to give him or her notice or the suit. The state of Kansas acknowledges various ways to complete service of process including service by certified mail, a process server, or service via the sheriffs’ department. Inability to appropriately serve a non-filing spouse means that the court does not have the ability to act under the Fourteenth Amendment.