Child Custody Laws in Kansas

Dad lifting son with one arm on a dock

In many states, child custody laws go through various changes over the course of time. While it might just be a few minor changes, they could have a huge impact on the outcome of your case. Kansas child custody laws will continue to evolve, so it is important that you have some knowledge as to what the laws are during the time that your custody arrangement is determined. Getting to know these laws helps you to understand what you should expect out of your child custody case. 

Types of child custody in Kansas

In Kansas, courts will order custody based on the best interests of the child with joint custody being the preferred arrangement. Joint custody in Kansas often entails parents sharing the responsibilities of legal custody, meaning that they are jointly responsible for making major decisions about their child's life. These decisions will include things like where the child will attend school, what kind of medical attention they will receive or which religion they will practice. While joint legal custody is often shared, Kansas courts typically arrange for one parent to have primary physical custody, and the other parent to have some parenting time over weekends or holidays. A physical custody arrangement where parents share equal parenting time will be ordered by a Kansas judge if parents are in agreement with that arrangement. 

If joint legal or physical custody is not a good fit for a family, a judge will order a different type of arrangement. Sole custody gives one parent both legal and physical responsibilities for the child. This arrangement sometimes allows the non-custodial parent to have some visitation rights. If nether joint or sole custody is a good fit, there are other custody arrangements that are reserved for these types of exceptional cases. In a case where there are multiple kids involved, a judge might order divided custody where each child lives with a different parent. In a case where neither parent is fit to care for the child, a judge will order non-parental custody where someone such a a grandparent or other legal guardian will take custody of the child. Again, divided or non-parent custody is saved only for exceptional child custody cases in Kansas. 

Parents who have come to a custody agreement on their own are able to present their arrangement to the judge who is likely to approve it. If parents have not come to an agreement, it will be made in the courtroom. In all cases, the final decision is ultimately made after a judge has considered what is in the best interests of the child. Under Kansas child custody laws, best interests are determined by examining several factors including the wishes of both parents and the child; how well adjusted the child is to their community, home and school; and whether there is a history of spousal abuse in the family. Once a final arrangement is determined, parents should abide by this ruling, yet the court does retain the power to alter the physical custody arrangement by changing the child's primary residence. Although this is a rare occurrence, it may happen in cases where abuse, alcohol or drug abuse, or neglect becomes a considerable factor. 

Visitation rights under Kansas child custody laws

Visitation is a common piece of many custody agreements in Kansas. It allows for a non-custodial parent to spend time with their child. In Kansas, certain guidelines for visitation are put in place which both parents must follow. For the non-custodial parent, guidelines include picking up and returning the child on time, keeping the child safe during visitations, and making sure that they make their visitation time as pleasant for the child as possible. For the custodial parent, guidelines include having the child ready on time for visitations and respecting the other parent's time with the child. Beyond just the non-custodial parent having rights to visitation, a grandparent or step-parent may also be granted visitation by a Kansas judge. Similar to how custody is determined, visitation is also determined based on the best interests of the child. 

When a visitation schedule is put in place, both parents must keep track of it somehow. One easy way for parents to track custody and visitation schedules is to use a shared online calendar that is easily accessible by all parties involved. The OurFamilyWizard website offers calendaring tools available via both web and mobile applications, so parents can stay on the same page about custody and visitations from anywhere with an internet connection. If someone likes traditional refrigerator calendar, parents can print the schedule as noted on their OurFamilyWizard calendar and post it on the fridge. The OurFamilyWizard website makes it simple for parents to stay connected and on top of their shared custody or visitation schedule. 

Although it is important to educate yourself on Kansas child custody laws, none of this information should be considered legal advice. If you're looking for further information about Kansas child custody laws, check out the Kansas Bar Association's webpage about child custody, support and visitation. For legal guidance in regards to your situation in particular, please refer to an attorney who is familiar with Kansas child custody laws. If you're looking for someone to speak to, review our Kansas resources page for attorneys and other family law professionals in your area. 


NOTE: Many state and federal laws use terms like ‘custody’ when referring to arrangements regarding parenting time and decision-making for a child. While this has been the case for many years, these are not the only terms currently used to refer to these topics.

Today, many family law practitioners and even laws within certain states use terms such as ‘parenting arrangements’ or ‘parenting responsibility,’ among others, when referring to matters surrounding legal and physical child custody. You will find these terms as well as custody used on the OurFamilyWizard website.