Kansas Separation Agreements Law

Divorce – Separation Agreements – Kansas

Note:  This summary is not intended to be an all inclusive discussion of the law of separation agreements in Kansas, but does include basic and other provisions.

General Summary: Separation and Property Agreements may be entered into before a divorce is filed to be effective when aproved by the court.  Detailed information regarding the identity, value, and allocation of specific iterms of property should be included in the agreement.  With the exception of provisions for the custody, support, or education of the minor children, a property settlement agreement incorporated into a final  dissolution decree and order may not be modified unless the agreement so provides or the parties subsequently consent.

Kansas Statutes
Chapter 60.–PROCEDURE, CIVIL
Article 16.–DIVORCE AND MAINTENANCE

Child custody or residency criteria: The court shall determine custody or residency of a child in accordance with the best interests of the child.

(A)   If the parties have a written agreement concerning the custody or residency of their minor child, it is presumed that the agreement is in the best interests of the child. This presumption may be overcome and the court may make a different order if the court makes specific findings of fact stating why the agreement is not in the best interests of the child.  K.S.A 60-1610(a)(3)

Financial matters;Separation agreement: If the parties have entered into a separation agreement which the court finds to be valid, just and equitable, the agreement shall be incorporated in the decree. The provisions of the agreement on all matters settled by it shall be confirmed in the decree except that any provisions for the custody, support or education of the minor children shall be subject to the control of the court in accordance with all other provisions of this article. Matters settled by an agreement incorporated in the decree, other than matters pertaining to the custody, support or education of the minor children, shall not be subject to subsequent modification by the court except:

(A) as prescribed by the agreement or
(B) as subsequently consented to by the parties.  K.S.A. 60-610(b)(3)

Case Law:

A separation agreement is subject to the same rules of law applicable to other contracts. The intention of the parties to and the meaning of a contract are to be deduced from the contract where its terms are plain and unambiguous, and when the language is clear and unequivocal the meaning must be determined by its contents alone, and words cannot be read into a contract which import an intent wholly unexpressed when the contract was executed. The court may not make an agreement for the parties which they did not make for themselves.  Drummond v. Drummond, 209 Kan. 86, 87, 495 P.2d 994 (1972)

Maintenance settled by a separation agreement that is incorporated into the divorce decree is not “subject to subsequent modification by the court except: (A) As prescribed by the agreement or (B) as subsequently consented to by the parties.” K.S.A. 60-1610(b)(3); cf. Spaulding v. Spaulding, 221 Kan. 574, 576-77, 561 P.2d 420 (1977) (construing predecessor statute). Thus, if a separation agreement that is incorporated into a divorce decree does not either provide that maintenance will terminate upon remarriage or give the district court continuing power to modify maintenance, the district court has no power to modify maintenance upon the remarriage of the recipient unless the parties consent. Spaulding v. Spaulding, 221 Kan. 574, 576-77, 561 P.2d 420 (1977).

A party who seeks and obtains from a trial court its approval of a separation agreement and the incorporation thereof in a decree of divorce and thereafter accepts the benefits of the decree cannot avoid its disadvantages by a motion to modify except as to those matters over which the court has continuing jurisdiction. K.S.A. 60-1610(e); Spaulding v. Spaulding, 221 Kan. 574, 561 P.2d 420 (1977).

K.S.A. 60-1610(b)(3) states in pertinent part: “If the parties have entered into a separation agreement which the court finds to be valid, just and equitable, the agreement shall be incorporated in the decree.” The Supreme Court has commented: “[S]eparation agreements have always been subject to the scrutiny of the courts to prevent fraud and oppression.  This is true, of course, and in finding that an agreement is valid, just, and equitable, as required by the statute, the agreement must be carefully scrutinized.” Spaulding v. Spaulding, 221 Kan. 574, 577, 561 P.2d 420 (1977); see In re Estate of Sweeney, 210 Kan. 216, 223, 500 P.2d 56 (1972).

Property values should be set forth in the separation agreement: “Each major piece of property, i.e., realty, automobiles, etc., should be listed with its value and which party is to receive the property. The court reviewing the agreement cannot determine if it is just and equitable without knowing the value of the property.” 1 Elrod, Kansas Family Law Handbook § 11.074D (rev. ed. 1990).

Kansas law is clear that a property settlement, once accepted by the court and incorporated into the divorce decree, may not generally be modified by the court except as prescribed by the agreement or subsequent consent by the parties. Miller v. Miller, 6 Kan. App. 2d 193, 194-95, 627 P.2d 365 (1981). However, K.S.A. 1995 Supp. 60-1610 (b)(3) unquestionably provides that the district court retains jurisdiction to modify issues dealing with custody, support, or education of the minor children. Beard v. Beard, 12 Kan. App. 2d 540, Syl. ¶1, 750 P.2d 1059 (1988).


Inside Kansas Separation Agreements Law