Nebraska family law cases can prove to be emotional and daunting matters to become involved in. Whether a person is going through a divorce, a child custody battle, or needs help understanding child support, our brief primer can help. By educating you on the basics of your Nebraska family law issue, we can help you better prepare for what lies ahead. And if more hand holding is needed (it’s certainly recommended!), we can connect you – free of charge – to a local Nebraska family law expert who can assist.
Nebraska is what is known as a no-fault divorce state. Nebraska Revised Statute 42-361 states that a final decree of divorce will be granted if both parties state under oath or affirmation that the marriage is irretrievably broken If one of the parties denies that the marriage is irretrievably broken, the court will hold a hearing to determine that the marriage is irretrievably broken. This means that the court does not require proof of any wrongdoing which can make for a long drawn-out legal battle costing tens thousands of dollars. As a result of being no-fault divorce state, neither spouse has to prove which party was the cause of the breakdown of the marriage. A spouse can simply file for divorce on the ground of the marriage being irretrievably broken and that it is without any chance of repair (i.e. – the married couple just doesn’t get along anymore). Nebraska does have some basic requirements for no fault and fault divorce though.
Nebraska has laid out some basic residency requirements for who can file for divorce in the State of Nebraska. The laws can be found here at Nebraska Revised Statute 42-342. At least one spouse must have been a resident of Nebraska for at least one year before filing for divorce.
There is a waiting period imposed upon divorcing couples in Nebraska once the divorce is filed and the other spouse is served. Nebraska Revised Statute 42-361 states that once the case is filed, a Nebraska judge will not grant a final divorce decree until at least 60-days have passed since your spouse was properly served with the summons and complaint (the other spouse can waive being served which does save time and money). This is the fastest possible time to complete the divorce process and it is possible to have it completed without going to a court hearing in some instances.
Nebraska Revised Statute 42-365 states that “The purpose of a property division is to distribute the marital assets equitably between the parties.” Property division is a highly contested issue in Nebraska divorce cases as each party normally believes they have a right to what accrued during the marriage. For the most part this is correct. Nebraska is what is known as an “equitable division of property” state. This means that a judge will not necessarily divide property equally on a 50/50 basis. The judge instead divide the property according to what the judge believes is fair. The judge will take into account various factors such as earning capacity of the parties, educational levels competed, whether a parent was a stay at home caregiver for their children, the length of the marriage, and many other factors.
Alimony – Spousal Support
Nebraska Revised Statute 42-365 states that “The purpose of alimony is to provide for the continued maintenance or support of one party by the other when the relative economic circumstances and the other criteria enumerated in this section make it appropriate.” A similar process is followed should a judge believe that alimony (spousal support) is necessary for either spouse. Major factors that go into spousal support awards are ages of the parties, education level disability, and earning capacity of each spouse, among others. Normally alimony payments terminate if the receiving spouse remarries or dies but there can be other exceptions as well. It is dangerous for an untrained person to play around with alimony awards on their own and Nebraska family law advice is always highly recommended.
Nebraska Child Support
Nebraska Child Support Guidelines provide an expansive approach to providing support agreements that recognize the equal duty of both parents to provide support and other financial contributions for their children. Nebraska’s Child Support Guidelines not only mandate monthly child support payments, they also encompass daycare and health insurance costs. Typically, child support awards are calculated based on each parent’s individual income, but earning capacity could also be a considered factor.
Nebraska uses a method of the “income shares” model for determining child support. This means that both parents income is combined and then a worksheet formula is used to determine the amount of support needs to be paid. The Nebraska child support income shares formulas and worksheet can be found here by clicking the dropdown box labeled “category” and clicking on child support. The worksheets are provided by the Supreme Court of the State of Nebraska.
Nebraska Child Custody
Child custody orders are made by judges applying a standard called the “best interests of the child” to your personal facts and circumstances. The courts use Nebraska Revised Statute 42-364 to assist in making a custody determination. The court can award joint custody or sole custody to one or both parents. Two types of custody exist in Nebraska: legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody deals with the parents either co-parenting by working together on all aspects of raising the children (schools, doctors, extracurricular activities, religious upbringing, etc.) while physical custody relates to who the child primarily lives with and which parent has visitation.
The courts will always attempt to look for the possibility of joint custody because presumptively it is in the child’s best interests. That being said, if parents simply cannot get along, one parent will be granted sole custody instead. Either way, the court will attempt to grant as much parenting time with both parents as reasonably possible so that the child continues to have a strong relationship with both parents.
Nebraska Child custody cases can come out of either a divorce or a situation where the parents are unmarried (paternity). Paternity cases often provide more challenges to fathers than during divorces because it is not presumed that the father has been around and living with the child since birth (although this may be the case in most situations).
Nebraska Father’s Rights
Nebraska father’s rights issues can raise real difficulties during divorce, child custody and support disputes in Nebraska family law court. Whether during a divorce or a paternity action, courts have traditionally sided with the mother as being the preferred and primary caregiver of the children. Technically, Nebraska Revised Statute 42-364(2), states: “In determining legal custody or physical custody, the court shall not give preference to either parent based on the sex of the parent.” This does not mean that a bias still does not exist against fathers without the right help. But times have changed and not only are many men stay at home parents, but with many families having both parents employed, a father has an equal chance to cement themselves as the main caregiver of the children or to be on even rounds with mom. This starts by establishing yourself as the person that helps with bath time, bedtime, dinner, and other daily necessities of raising a child. Most importantly, a father needs avoid common pitfalls that can kill their case. Father’s rights lawyers have been fighting to get men the same parenting rights as mothers and can greatly increase their chances of winning a custody fight.
Your Next Step to Getting Your Rights
Getting the necessary Nebraska family law advice and help is essential. It all begins by learning what standards are set by the courts and understanding how the law relates to your personal facts and situation. You don’t have to do it alone, and if you do not understand the law (which is why lawyers exist in the first place!), you can let us connect you – for free – to a Nebraska family law professional. Whatever choice you make, don’t delay.