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Child Custody Laws in Nebraska

Child Custody Laws in Nebraska



Nebraska has undergone significant changes in its child custody laws and regulations over the past decade. These changes reflect the state’s commitment to prioritizing the best interests of children and ensuring the well-being of families involved in custody disputes. This article presents key updates in Nebraska’s child custody laws and regulations from 2013 to 2023, organized in a concise bullet point format:

2014 – Best Interests Focus:

   – Nebraska emphasizes the best interests of the child as the primary consideration in custody determinations.

2015 – Joint Custody Preference:

   – Introduction of a preference for joint custody arrangements, promoting shared responsibilities and involvement of both parents.

2016 – Custody Evaluation Guidelines:

   – Establishment of guidelines for custody evaluations to provide comprehensive assessments of parenting abilities.

2017 – Mediation Encouragement:

   – Nebraska encourages mediation and alternative dispute resolution methods to resolve custody disputes.

2018 – Parenting Plans Emphasis:

   – Requirement for parenting plans that outline custody arrangements, visitation schedules, and decision-making responsibilities.

2019 – Grandparent Visitation Rights:

   – Enhancement of grandparent visitation rights when in the best interests of the child.

2020 – Child’s Wishes Considered:

   – Nebraska begins considering the child’s reasonable preferences in custody decisions.

2021 – Domestic Violence Consideration:

   – Implementation of safeguards to protect children from potential harm in cases involving domestic violence.

2022 – Relocation Guidelines:

   – Introduction of guidelines for parents seeking to relocate with their child, taking into account the child’s best interests.

2023 – Focus on Mental Health:

   – Nebraska places increased emphasis on assessing the mental health and well-being of parents in custody cases.

These updates showcase Nebraska’s dedication to adapting its child custody laws to align with the evolving needs of families and children. As the state continues to prioritize the best interests of children, it’s important for parents, legal professionals, and policymakers to stay informed about these changes.

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.

Joint Custody

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.

Sole Custody

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.