Guide to Child Custody Laws in Nebraska
Dividing parenting responsibilities can be difficult and emotionally charged. Any Nebraska parent who is facing a custody hearing or dispute should prepare themselves by learning about the child custody laws in Nebraska. These laws govern how children are placed with parents after a separation or divorce. This guide will give you a brief overview of child custody laws in Nebraska and educate you about some of the terminology used by Nebraska courts when dealing with different types of custody.
Can Children Decide?
In some states, a child's desire to live with one parent or another is considered sufficient to give custody to that parent, when the child reaches a particular age. Nebraska, however, only allows a child's wishes to be a single factor in a judge's decision-making process. Child custody laws in Nebraska do not specify a particular age when a child's wishes become a factor in the custody process, but rather allow the judge to listen to a child's wishes whenever they appear to be based on reasonable decision-making processes.
Most of the time, child custody laws in Nebraska result in parents being awarded joint custody of their children. Joint custody refers to, at a minimum, legal custody. Joint legal custody means that both parents must agree on major life decisions for their child, including choices about school, recreation, health, and religion. Child custody laws in Nebraska also allow parents to have joint residential custody, in which a child divides his or her time between both parents.
Even in a case where joint residential custody is awarded in addition to joint legal custody, the child may not spend exactly half of his or her days with each parent. Depending on arrangements made by the parents and the court, one parent may have substantially more time with the child than the other. Child support obligations shift depending on how much time each parent is spending with their child.
If a parent feels that joint custody would be detrimental to their child, they may present evidence to the court showing this. If the court agrees, sole custody will be awarded to one parent. Sole custody is most often awarded when one parent has proven themselves to be unfit by being violent or having little interest in a continuing relationship with their children.
Parents with sole residential custody still must notify the court if they move to another state, which constitutes a material change to the custody order and may require the child's time to be divided differently if the court orders it.
Parents who do not have primary residential custody of their children are allowed to have frequent and continuing visitation rights. If the parent presents a flight risk or poses any potential danger to a child's health or safety, this visitation may be supervised by a relative, friend, or social worker. Child custody laws in Nebraska only allow a parent's visitation rights to be taken away completely if they present a clear danger to the child.