Parental Rights in Kansas

Kansas State Law and Parental Rights

Protected

We did it! Thanks in part to your support, Kansas law now explicitly protects parental rights.

Kan. Stat. Ann. § 38-141

(b) It shall be the public policy of this state that parents shall retain the fundamental right to exercise primary control over the care and upbringing of their children in their charge. It is further the public policy of this state that children shall have the right to protection from abuse and neglect.

The Kansas Preservation of Religious Freedom Act  passed in 2013 fleshes out what the fundamental rights of parents include.
Kansas Statute Article 53 § 60-5303 Exercise of religion; burden of proof; remedies.

"(a) Government shall not substantially burden a person's civil right to exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability, unless such government demonstrates, by clear and convincing evidence, that application of the burden to the person:

"(1) Is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and

"(2) is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest."

Kansas Statute Article 53 § 60-5305 Construction of act.

"(a) Nothing in this act shall be construed to:

"(1) Impair the fundamental right of every parent to control the care and custody of such parent’s minor children, including, but not limited to, control over education, discipline, religious and moral instruction, health, medical care, welfare, place of habitation, counseling and psychological and emotional well-being of such minor children as set forth in the laws and constitution of the state of Kansas and of the United States."

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Kansas Courts and Parental Rights

Protected Under Statute

The Kansas Supreme Court, citing the Troxel ruling, only demands the ambiguous Troxel test.

Skov v. Wicker v. Boydston, 272 Kan 240 (2001):

"[T]he district court must give some special weight to the fundamental presumption that a fit parent will act in the best interests of his or her child" (emphasis added).

It is to be expected, however, that the religious freedom statute of 2013 that calls for fundamental parental rights to be protected by strict scrutiny will lead to a different outcome in Kansas courts the next time the issue comes up.