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Parental Responsibility: Legal Custody vs. Residency in Kansas

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What is the Difference Between Legal Custody and Residency in Kansas?

During a divorce, one of the most contentious subjects is usually the custody and care of the children. Generally, both spouses believe they know what is best for their child.

However, problems arise when the parents have different opinions about how a child should be raised and where they should live, also known as residency in Kansas.

Most Kansas courts encourage divorcing couples to use mediation to come to an agreement without taking the matter before a judge. This minimizes the cost and time required to come to a conclusion. However, decisions reached through mediation are not legally binding, so if the individuals cannot reach a decision or if one person does not fulfill their obligations after mediation, the matter may need to come before a judge.

When considering child custody issues, it is essential to distinguish between legal custody, or decision-making rights and responsibilities, and residency, or the physical custody of the child.

Legal Custody

Legal custody refers to the right to make crucial decisions on behalf of the child following a divorce. This may include questions such as:

  • How will healthcare problems be resolved
  • How the child will be educated
  • Other important items related to the child’s welfare

In Kansas, a couple may agree to share joint legal custody, or a judge may order that parental responsibilities be divided. In other scenarios, the judge may award sole legal custody to one parent. However, these cases are rarer.


Residency is also known as physical custody and refers to the location where the child will live. Like legal custody, this responsibility could be assigned to one parent or divided between the two divorcing parents. The time spent with each parent isn’t necessarily equal, and parenting agreements should always be in the child’s best interests.

What Are My Options Regarding Custody in Kansas?

Divorcing couples in Kansas are encouraged to find solutions for child custody matters through mediation, if possible. Avoiding the court can save a great deal of time and money and often results in lasting satisfaction rather than bitterness commonly seen in divorces involving the court system.

Many couples decide to share custody so both parents can be involved in the child’s life, also known as joint legal custody. Other times, assigning sole custody to one parent is in the child’s interest. To learn more about the options available in your unique circumstances, please reach out to our talented team of child custody lawyers today.

Joint Legal Custody

In Kansas, joint legal custody is preferred because many judges understand that involving both parents in a child’s life is beneficial.

However, this doesn’t necessarily mean the time and responsibility will be evenly split between both parents. Couples going through a divorce should evaluate whether spending a greater amount of time with one parent would benefit the child because of proximity to their current school and activities.

Sole Custody

Sole custody is not used often in Kansas divorces. However, there are some circumstances, such as in cases of abuse and neglect, where the child’s safety would be in danger if they lived with one of their parents. In some rare cases, this could result in the judge assigning sole custody to one parent. In sole custody, one parent has decision-making responsibility for the child. They could also have sole responsibility for the residency or physical custody of the children.

What Can I Do to Get Better Chances of a Favorable Outcome in My Custody Decision?

Many parents wonder if there’s anything they can do to get a more favorable outcome when the court makes child custody decisions. There are certain actions you can take to improve your chances of continuing to be involved in your child’s life. One of the most important things you can do is to contact a knowledgeable child custody attorney before going before the court. Even if a judge has already issued a child custody order, you may still be able to get it adjusted with the help of your attorney.

Hire an Experienced Team of Custody Lawyers

Your lawyer will have the experience necessary to gather evidence supporting you during your search for child custody.

They can confidently present this information to a judge, getting you better chances of a favorable outcome in your case. Your attorney can also offer legal counsel specific to your unique situation.

Adjusting Existing Child Custody Orders

If you don’t agree with the court-issued child custody order, or if your situation has changed and you believe the order should be reevaluated, there is still hope. According to the Kansas Legislator Briefing Book, “courts may modify custody, residency, visitation, and parenting time orders… when a material change of circumstances is shown.” Call our law firm today for excellent legal counsel and help to get the child custody agreement you deserve.

Should You Hire Our Family Law Lawyers?

Divorce is one of the most complicated, stressful things a family can experience. This is even more true for the children whose parents are splitting up. At this emotional time, you may be struggling to come to an agreement with your ex about how the children should be raised. However, you don’t need to go through this alone.

At Barnds Law LLC, we have helped countless families find solutions that match each client’s unique needs. We understand how to present matters before a judge, ensuring they have all the facts necessary to make this critical decision. Please let us help you find solutions through mediation, in court, or by adjusting current court orders. Call 913-514-0909 today for a consultation with our skilled legal team.

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