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Unraveling child custody matters in Nebraska

Unraveling Child Custody Matters in Nebraska

What you need to know about child custody in Nebraska

Navigating the complexities of child custody in any state can be daunting. In Nebraska, a combination of legal standards, emotional dynamics, and the wellbeing of the children come into play that can make child custody matters difficult to navigate. In an effort to unravel child custody matters in Nebraska, here is a breakdown of the intricacies of child custody, guided by the insights of the divorce and family law experts at Nebraska Legal Group

Understanding Types of Child Custody in Nebraska

At its core, child custody matters in Nebraska revolve around two main components: legal custody and physical custody.

  • Legal Custody: This determines who gets to make major decisions concerning the child, including education, health care, religious instruction, and other significant life choices.
  • Physical Custody: This pertains to where the child will reside. It can be joint, where both parents share custody, or sole, where one parent is the primary custodian.

How is Child Custody Determined?

Nebraska courts utilize a two part test.  The first is to determine parental fitness, including a parent’s ability to meet a child’s needs. If both parents are found to be fit, then the analysis turns on the “best interests of the child.” Several factors contribute to this decision:

  • Child’s Relationship: The Court will evaluate the relationship the child has with each parent.
  • Child’s Preference: Depending on the child’s age and maturity, their preference might be taken into consideration if based on sound reasoning.
  • General Health, Welfare, and Social Behavior: This is often one of the most important factors, where courts will determine how the child has been doing in each parent’s care, whether ther are any major behavioral or social adjustment issues, school performance etc.
  • Stability: The stability of the child’s current school, home, and community environment plays a pivotal role.
  • History of Abuse / Safety Concerns: Any history of abuse or neglect is a critical concern for the courts. The well-being of the child is paramount.

Modification of Child Custody Orders

Over time, situations change. A parent might need to relocate for work, or there could be significant changes in the child’s needs. Nebraska law allows for the modification of child custody arrangements if there’s a material change in circumstances that affects the child’s best interests. Some examples of situations that may warrant a modification of a child custody order include:

  • Safety Concerns: If one parent becomes involved in activities that pose a risk to the child (e.g., substance abuse, criminal activities), or if there’s evidence of child abuse or neglect, a modification might be necessary to ensure the child’s safety.
  • Parental Health: If a parent suffers from a severe health issue that impairs their ability to care for the child, a change in custody may be warranted.
  • Consistent Violations of the Current Custody Order: If one parent continually violates the custody agreement—like frequently denying visitation rights to the other parent—it might be grounds for modification.
  • Child’s Preference: As children grow older, their needs and preferences change. A teenager might express a strong desire to live with one parent over the other. While the child’s preference alone might not warrant a change, it’s a factor the court may consider, especially if it’s in the child’s best interest.
  • Change in Child’s Needs: The child might develop medical, educational, or psychological needs that one parent is better equipped to handle.
  • Change in Parental Status: Changes in the marital status of a parent, such as remarriage, could lead to modifications, especially if the new family dynamics are not conducive to the child’s well-being.
  • Economic Changes: Significant economic changes in a parent’s life, either a downturn leading to an inability to provide for the child or a significant uptick that might allow for more opportunities for the child, can be considered.
  • Death of a Custodial Parent: In unfortunate events where a custodial parent passes away, a review and modification of the custody order will be necessary.

Understanding Parental Rights and Responsibilities in Nebraska

Nebraska courts encourage both parents to actively participate in the upbringing of their children, regardless of the custody arrangement. This includes:

  • Access to Records: Both parents, unless restricted by the court, should have access to medical, educational, and other vital records of the child.
  • Informed Decisions: Both parents should be kept informed about significant matters related to the child’s life, enabling them to make collaborative decisions.
  • Visitation Rights: The non-custodial parent typically has rights to visitation, which should be outlined clearly in the child custody agreement. 

Nebraska Child Support and Custody

Child support and custody often go hand-in-hand. In Nebraska, child support is determined by guidelines that consider the income of both parents, the number of children, and other relevant factors. Familiarizing oneself with the guidelines is vital for unraveling child custody matters in Nebraska. 

Navigating Child Custody Matters in Nebraska with a Family Lawyer 

Child custody matters in Nebraska are intricate, blending legal considerations with the emotional and physical welfare of children. The courts prioritize what’s in the best interest of the child, but parents also have rights and responsibilities that they need to be aware of. While this overview provides a starting point, diving deeper with an experienced Nebraska child custody attorney is essential for anyone going through a child custody dispute or modification in Nebraska. Visit us online to fill out a free case evaluation form today.