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Nebraska Child Custody
Child Custody in Nebraska

According to Nebraska Statutes, Chapter 42, Section: 364. "the court shall consider factors pertaining to the best interests of the minor child."

In Nebraska, the primary consideration in making custody arrangements is the best interests of the child. Nebraska child custody laws make certain that the parents provide for the child's needs and protect his or her welfare. A healthy relationship between the former spouses and a feasible parenting plan demonstrates the parents' desire for a continuing relationship with the child. If parents cannot agree on the terms and conditions of their parenting plan, the court intervenes to resolve any issues on child support, custody, or visitation rights.

Family courts have jurisdiction over child custody cases and grant either joint or sole custody to suitable parent(s). Nebraska requires parents to submit a parenting plan in custody actions. This plan outlines the parents' plan to meet the child's emotional and physical needs. The parents need to make this plan even when they have agreed on custody arrangements. The court can order mediation or alternative dispute resolution if the parties fail to submit a plan, or it can devise its own plan if it does not approve the parents' plan.

In Nebraska the parents must either agree to joint custody or the court must find it is in the best interests of the child based on evidence presented at a hearing.

The court awards both legal and physical custody. Legal custody is the right to make important decisions about the child's life, such as medical care, education, and religious training. Physical custody means the right to live with and provide day-to-day care for the child. Physical custody identifies the parent with whom the child will live for a majority of the time. Either type of custody can be awarded jointly to both parents if the court finds it is in the best interests of the child. The court can grant joint custody for both or just one of these types if the parents have proposed it beforehand and the court approves or the court finds this arrangement promotes the best interest of the child. It is also possible for one parent to get full custody.

In deciding custody, the court considers the family dynamics of the parent-child relationship. In determining what is the best custody arrangement, the court considers:

  • the child's wishes or preferences as to custody, provided he or she is mature enough to make such claims;
  • the parents' wishes or preferences as to custody, particularly the willingness to establish a continuing interaction between the child and the other parent as this is deemed crucial in the child's development;
  • any history of domestic violence, child abuse, negligence, or substance abuse;
  • the child's ability to adjust to his or her home, school, and community;
  • the mental or physical health of the parties involved in the proceedings;
  • the child's relationship to his or her parents, siblings, and other members of the family;
  • evidence of spousal abuse; and
  • the outcome of any investigation conducted to determine the nature of care and welfare of the children.

Mandatory Parenting Class

Nebraska courts often require all divorcing parents with minor children to complete a mandatory parenting class before granting a divorce. This requirement is designed to help parents and children deal with the trauma of divorce and separation. Unless the court grants a waiver, both parents must typically complete this requirement. Rather than give up an afternoon or evening taking your course in a crowded classroom, you can fulfill this requirement conveniently online at a very reasonable cost. We recommend you take Children in Between Online" to fulfill your court requirement and for the benefit of your children.

Preferential Treatment Towards Mothers

Child custody laws in Nebraska are gender neutral. The courts may not give any preference to mothers or fathers because there is no presumption in Nebraska that parents of either gender are more fit or more suitable to be custodial parents, make decisions, or provide childcare. The courts, therefore, refrain from assuming that one parent can provide better parenting based on the parent's sex.

Joint Custody Preference

A Nebraska family court judge may rule that the parents must share joint custody of the child, even if the parents have decided differently between themselves.

Nebraska law expresses a preference for parents to share as equally as possible in the custody of a child in a divorce case. Joint custody is deemed favorable since this encourages a continuing interaction between the parents and the child. However, this may not always be feasible if the child's welfare is at risk with one of the parents. In awarding custody, the courts consider:

  • the parents' moral fitness and sexual activity,
  • the environment in which the parents live,
  • their attitudes and stability, and
  • their capacities to meet the child's needs.

The court will also consider:

  • the emotional connection between the parents and child;
  • the age, gender, and health of the parents and child; and
  • the effect disrupting current relationships will have on the child.

If the child is mature enough to express a reasoned preference for one parent, regardless of how old the child is, the court considers that preference.

Parental Conduct

In addition to finding a parent unfit because of substance abuse, or abuse or neglect towards a child, the courts also consider the conduct of both parents during the course of the marriage, and the impact of parental behavior on the child. The court also must consider any evidence of domestic abuse by the parents.

Nebraska courts will not place a child in the custody of a parent who has inflicted abuse on the child or on the child's other parent. If any member of the family where the child was living has been abusive to the child, the child will not be allowed to reside in the home. If any family member has experienced abuse from a parent, this parent will not be awarded custody. However, a Nebraska judge must have substantial evidence that the abuse has taken place before issuing a ruling against the parent.

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