The Colgan Law Firm LLC is dedicated to helping our clients achieve realistic and successful outcomes when faced with difficult family situations, including:
- Maintenance/ Alimony
- Parenting Time
- Move Away Issues
- Property Division
- Debt Allocation
- Child in Need of Care
One notion that we need to dispel early in representation is the perception that there can be a winner and loser in divorce cases. Stories from years ago might suggest that someone "was taken to the cleaners" in a divorce action. That is why most states have passed laws that prevent one party from “taking someone to the cleaners”. Judges in the jurisdiction of Kansas must be fair under the law. Some results might be perceived as more positive than others by the participants but often critical facts might lead to one party being favored over another. The task of the Judge is to be fair, just and equitable.
Our task, as your attorneys, is to make sure you understand all the procedures and possible outcomes before we go to trial or final settlement. We believe our skill as attorneys and our experience over the years will result in a positive outcome. Every family law matter has its own unique character.
When two married people ask the courts to take jurisdiction over their marriage and divide their rights and responsibilities vis a vis their children, possessions/assets and debts. Our law firm will attempt to take the confusion out of the process by explaining how the court takes jurisdiction over a couple’s marriage, children, property and financial obligations. We have heard all the hard questions and know the answers. We try patiently to give you confidence that you will understand the process and know what to expect in the months before your divorce and the years subsequent to your divorce.
We do not sugarcoat the truth or try to make unrealistic predictions of possible outcomes for our clients. We strive to deliver that information in a respectful and complete manner. There are no questions that we will not answer honestly and with the most current information available to our firm.
We, primarily practice family law in Leavenworth, Wyandotte and Johnson counties in Kansas. In special circumstances we do travel to other counties in Kansas. Our law office is located equidistant from all three district courthouses which makes for quick and easy access. You might be surprised that the judges in each county have their own unique ways of approaching divorce questions within the parameters of the law. That is why the experience of our law is so important in representing you in a divorce. We know the judges and know previous rulings on critical issues that will guide our advice to clients. Our advice and planning is not always the same for every client.
Every divorce in Kansas starts with a Petition which sets out the basis for the divorce action. With this Petition our firm will file a Domestic Relations Affidavit (required by the Supreme Court of Kansas in most cases). This Affidavit sets out the assets and debts of our client with a budget summary included. We find that judges often use our Domestic Relations Affidavit when making final rulings, because we are very thorough and complete. We believe that judges have confidence that our Domestic Relations Affidavit has complete and accurate information on all critical issues.
Temporary Orders might be included initially with all our filed documents. These will request temporary support, custody and temporary possession of property. At other times when couples are working “peacefully” to end their marriage, temporary orders may not be necessary. Once the papers are filed with the court, the Judge will set the timetable for hearings leading to a final resolution and divorce.
Is it important to be the first to file? Many times it does make a difference but each divorce is unique and there may be advantages gained from being the first party to file. Our firm can explain all these possible options.
Our firm is conveniently located close to Fort Leavenworth. We have years of experience providing the best possible representation to spouses and active duty personnel involving military divorces. These matters can be quite complicated for those who do not regularly represent members or dependents of military personnel. There are many pitfalls including but not limited to questions of proper service, characterization of retirement accounts and temporary benefits ordered by the military. We can answer these questions and work quickly on your case.
Not all states have the same law when a couple is getting a divorce. In Kansas fault is not ordinarily considered when determining, custody of children and parenting time for mom and dad. Fault, generally will also not be considered when dividing assets and assigning debt to the parties. For many years fault was considered a key element of divorce and led to bitter and never ending battles between divorcing couples. The Kansas legislature adopted the current law. Fault is still considered in some states but not Kansas.
In the State of Kansas the preferred way that Kansas Courts want separated or divorced parents to continue parenting their children is with joint custody. What does that mean?
In important decisions regarding the health, education and religious training of a child both parents should be involved in the decisions. Does that mean that both parents will always agree, probably not but the court has ways to resolve conflicts. If parents look to the best interests of their children they can usually come to a reasonable agreement without continuing litigation regarding matters that parents should settle. Judges will tell parents that the preferred way for parents to decide the best interests of their children is by themselves and not with a stranger wearing a black robe, hearing arguments from attorneys.
At times it is necessary for our law firm to litigate matters in front of a judge when the disagreements are so deep and comprehensive that parents alone are not able to settle them.
Parents will be surprised to know that when disputes involve the children of a marriage the courts really don’t care about the parents but only the best interests of the children. Our law firm is equipped with years of experience to help our clients understand the concepts of sole custody, residential custody, shared custody and when the courts might award one type of custody or another.
Divorcing couples need to realize that there are soon to be two families to share time with the children of a divorce. Our law firm always tries to maximize the time our client will have with the children and this planning leads to a comprehensive parenting plan. Our experience has led us to prepare detailed and specific parenting plans which cover all possible contingencies both immediate and in the future. When divorced parties have a written document that sets out in great detail exactly when they will see their children disagreements are minimized and post decree court hearings are minimized.
With a very detailed parenting plan the children are assured that they know exactly where they will be and with what parent.
Despite the detail in our plans we try to allow for flexibility and still maintain the confidence of our clients that they understand and can implement the final plan for parenting with an ex-spouse.
The formulas used for the calculation of child support in Kansas were determined by the Supreme Court of Kansas. Years ago the Supreme Court grew tired of complaints from citizens in different parts of the state who had evidence of gross inequities regarding child support awarded in different counties. Kansas adopted a uniform set of guidelines that allows our law firm with the aid of our firm’s software to calculate accurate and predictable numbers for child support.
The standard method for collecting child support is with income withholding orders, once a source of embarrassment but now the preferred way that courts order payment of child support. During the last decade the payments of all child support are made to a central repository in Topeka and distributed to the proper parties.
Generally speaking, any asset acquired by a party following the date of the marriage is presumed to be marital property. In Kansas those assets will include all the property you and your spouse have acquired during the marriage even though one of the parties might not have worked outside the home. Those assets are subject to division. There is confusion in the minds of some people that what they worked for they get to keep in a divorce and while that might be true the final award might not support that conclusion.
While most property might be included in the division there are special rules for inheritance, personal injury awards and pre-marital property. The court can apply different evidence to the division of marital assets. Sometimes this division can be very complicated and costly to analyze and ultimately present to the court. Couples with a home, limited debt and agreement regarding children will spend far less time and expense terminating their marriage than a couple with properties in multiple states, retirement plans from multiple companies, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in personal property subject to division by the court.
Kansas courts award the responsibility to pay certain maritial debts in a fair and equitable manner to the party that can best pay those debts. When parties accumulate debt in their marriage they will most likely be equally responsible for those debts, if they have equal ability to pay the debt. If one party has incurred substantial debt without the knowledge of the spouse then that party may be forced to take that debt by the court.
What is surprising for some people to realize is that filing for bankruptcy does not necessarily relieve you of the responsibility for the payment of a marital debt. Kansas courts can insist that a party pay off a debt even though they have been relieved of that responsibility by the bankruptcy court.
Some debts, like promissory notes remain a joint debt even when the court orders one party to pay the debt. Lenders do not have to recognize the division ordered by the court.
Dividing all debt of a divorcing couple is not an exact science and that is why you need the experience of a law firm with the personnel and systems in place to handle complicated divisions.
The court may award support to a divorcing party if the actual incomes of the parties are disproportionate. The Kansas courts have adopted guidelines for awarding spousal maintenance. Judge’s have broad discretion to award or not to award maintenance to a divorcing spouse.
The court will consider the following factors:
- Age of the parties
- Present and future earning capacities
- Length of the marriage
- Property owned by the parties
- Party’s needs
- Time, source and manner of acquisition of property
- Family ties and obligations
- Parties’ overall financial condition
Sometimes parents and society as whole may believe that children are possessions to be told what to do and who to be with at all times. The court will always look to the best interests of the children when making decisions in divorce and these decisions may be to the detriment of the parents who are divorcing.
A divorce filed by our law firm and completed with all necessary hearings and appearances with complete documents might run from $1,200.00 to $2,000.00, if there are no contested issues.
If it is not possible for parties to agree on anything or the assets of the divorce are complicated and numerous our firm will provide you with a good faith estimate of the costs.