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How to File for Child Custody Modification in Nebraska

How to File for Child Custody Modification in Nebraska

Child custody orders have some degree of permanence about them when issued by the Nebraska courts – but they can be modified if circumstances warrant it and should not be considered “final”.

Child custody orders have some degree of permanence about them when issued by the Nebraska courts – but they can be modified if circumstances warrant it and should not be considered “final”.

However, the process of obtaining a child custody modification is by no means a simple one – and you must follow the conditions of the existing one until the court approves your modification.

The experienced child custody lawyers at Nebraska Legal Group can help you file for a modification if there has been a substantial enough change to warrant it.

Nebraska Parenting Act

The Nebraska Parenting Act contains the relevant provisions relating to child custody. These provisions pertain to all parents who are parties in a court case involving their minor children, such as:

  • Divorce cases
  • Filing for a modification of a divorce decree
  • Legal separation cases
  • Paternity cases
  • Child custody disputes
  • Child custody modification
  • Visitation or parenting time

Under the provisions of the act, parents must attend a court-approved parenting education class (and provide a certificate of completion to the court), attend mediation to create a parenting plan, and submit a parenting plan to the court for its approval.

Considerable thought and effort, therefore, go into creating a workable child custody arrangement. It is perhaps understandable if the court does not make it easy to change it.

Child custody modification

When you submit a parenting plan to the court in Nebraska as part of the divorce proceedings, it is meant to be in the best interests of the child according to the circumstances at the time.

Your parenting plan should address the following:

  • The legal custody and physical custody of each child
  • Parenting time and access to each child for birthdays, holidays, vacations, and special occasions (specifying dates and times)
  • Where each child will live during the week and at weekends
  • A transition plan for the transfer of the child between parents’ residences
  • Decision-making procedures for the day-to-day care of the child

Also included should be provisions for a process regarding future modifications to the parenting plan if necessary.

If at a later date, the best interests of the children are no longer met by the child custody arrangements agreed upon previously, it may become necessary to file for a modification.

To change your existing parenting plan regarding custody or parenting time, you will need to file a Complaint for Modification with your local Nebraska court. The other parent must be informed that you have filed the complaint.

For the modification to be granted by the court, you’ll need to convince a judge that there has been a “material change in circumstances” from the time your parenting plan took effect.

A “material change” might be any of the following:

  • One of the parents needs to move out of state for work
  • One parent has become disabled
  • One parent has been affected by drug or alcohol abuse
  • Any other situation that causes hardship for the child according to the current parenting plan

Best interests of the child

Just as with the original parenting plan or child custody court order, the best interests of the child are the paramount concern when the courts decide whether a modification is justified or not.

You should consider this first and foremost before applying for a child custody modification.

The “best interests of the child” is not some abstract concept. Judges must consider a range of factors when determining a child’s best interests. These include:

  • The child’s safety, emotional growth, and health – is it adequately cared for?
  • Can the child achieve regular and continuous school attendance?
  • Can the child’s parents provide safe, appropriate, and continuing quality of contact?
  • What is the child’s relationship with each parent before the commencement of the custody action?
  • What are the child’s wishes (if those wishes are based on sound reasoning)?
  • What are the child’s general health, welfare, and social behavior like?
  • Has there been evidence of abuse in the household?

Regardless of what the parents may want in terms of a new parenting arrangement, the ultimate decision of whether to grant a child custody modification rests with the court.

Need help navigating the child custody laws in Nebraska?

If you need to file for a child custody modification in Nebraska or Iowa, it’s best to work with an experienced child custody attorney. Contact us at Nebraska Legal Group for a free case evaluation.