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When might the Kansas courts change a child's primary residence?

If you are like most divorcees, your situation today looks drastically different than it did when you first got divorced one, two or ten years ago. This means that your former court agreements, such as your Kansas child custody agreement, may no longer apply to your circumstances, and you may wish to seek a modification. Before you petition to modify a custody order, however, you must first understand why the state decided custody the way it did in the first place and when it will allow for a change.

According to the Kansas Bar Association, the Kansas courts will award one of four types of custody to a parent or parents: joint, sole, divided or non-parental. Joint custody means that both parents have a say in major decisions regarding the child's upbringing. In most joint custody arrangements, the child will live primarily with one parent and spend time with the other on weekends and select weekday nights. In a few cases, the child may split time with both parents equally. The courts favor joint custody arrangements over all others.

Sole custody means that one party makes all the major decisions regarding the child's upbringing and that the child will live with that parent. The other parent may have specified visitation rights.

The courts may award divided custody when two children are involved. One child will live with one parent and the other with the other parent. Each party will have visitation with the other child. Non-parental custody occurs when the state grants custody to a non-parent, such a grandparent. The courts will only resort to these two types of arrangements in exceptional cases. The latter type of arrangement is usually temporary.  

A family court judge will use broad discretion when awarding custody. However, he or she must always take into consideration a child's best interests. According to Kansas statutes, some factors the judge will consider when deciding custody include each parent's school and community, the child's relationship with each parent, the wishes of the parents, anticipated levels of cooperation in helping the child maintain a relationship with the other parent and evidence of domestic violence. If the child is older, the courts may give weight to his or her preference. 

Because a lot goes into deciding custody, the law typically requires a material change in circumstance to modify a custody order. The change must typically have an adverse impact on the child, such as illegal drug use, physical violence, alcohol abuse or neglect. Rarely will the courts modify a custody order based on the improvement of the noncustodial parent's circumstances. 

This content is for educational purposes only. It should not be used as legal advice.

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