Fathers' Rights to Child Custody in Kansas

By Cindy Chung

Updated July 21, 2017

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Fathers in Kansas who need legal information related to child custody should familiarize themselves with their rights under state law. A father's rights to child custody may depend on whether he is married to his child's mother. Unmarried fathers must establish their rights under Kansas paternity laws. When a father has established his parental rights, he can request several types of custody arrangements and negotiate a parenting plan with his child's mother.

Unmarried Father's Right to Request Custody

While mothers automatically establish their parental rights by giving birth to their children, fathers who are not married to their children's mothers must get legal recognition of their paternity. Unmarried parents can cooperatively sign a Paternity Consent Form for Birth Registration to voluntarily identify the child's father with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. Alternatively, if the parents do not sign a voluntary acknowledgment, a father can file a paternity action with the Kansas state courts to request a court judgment recognizing him as the child's father. Once a father has received legal recognition of the parent-child relationship, he has the right to request custody and visitation.

Married Father's Right to Request Custody

When a mother gives birth to a child while married, Kansas law generally presumes that her husband has parental rights. Kansas also presumes that the husband is the child's father if his wife gives birth within 300 days of the couple's divorce. Men presumed to be fathers under Kansas law have parental rights and can initiate court proceedings to request child custody. Fathers must often make decisions regarding child custody as part of their divorce cases.

Types of Custody

The Kansas courts will consider the child's best interests when choosing the appropriate type of custody for the child. Kansas recognizes several types of child custody arrangements. The Kansas courts prefer to grant joint custody, an arrangement that allows both the father and mother to make parenting decisions even if the child primarily lives in one parent's home and has scheduled visits with the other parent. When one parent cannot exercise custody rights because they are unfit or incapable of doing so, the court may grant sole custody to one parent, which allows that parent to make all parenting decisions. The child will live with the parent who has sole custody, though the other parent may have scheduled visitations. Infrequently, a Kansas court will award divided custody, with different custody arrangements for the children in the family.

Parenting Plan Requirements

When a father and mother wish to share the custody of their children after the end of their marriage or relationship, the Kansas Judicial Branch often requires that they develop a written plan to share parental rights. A parenting plan includes information about where the child will live and when the child will spend time with each parent, including weekends, holidays and school vacations. This plan also discusses the religious and educational principles under which the parents will raise the child. When mothers and fathers cannot agree on a parenting plan, the Kansas courts may require negotiation with the help of a mediator.