In the ideal scenario, the biological parents raise their children until their legal obligation ends (age 19 in Nebraska). Unfortunately, however, the reality is sometimes very different.
Often, relationships end and a child is raised at least in part by a step-parent, grandparent, or another close family member.
This can create legal difficulties for many individuals when marriages break down. Maintaining contact and gaining visitation rights can be a huge challenge – and in the rare cases where custody is awarded to a non-parent, it may involve an intense legal battle.
The child custody attorneys at the Nebraska Legal Group have considerable experience in all child custody matters and can help non-parents exercise their custody and visitation rights.
Non-Parental Child Custody
There are very few circumstances where Nebraska courts will award child custody to non-parents.
The Nebraska family court system is set up to protect the best interests of the children. Usually, this means encouraging the maximum possible contact with the biological or adoptive parents. Custody and parenting arrangements are generally designed to enable both parents to be involved in decision-making.
Sometimes, however, this is neither possible nor desirable. Circumstances mean that the best interests of the child cannot be met by the biological or adoptive parent(s).
In some cases, it is preferable for a non-parent to take custody of a child due to unfit parenting, often involving abuse, drug addiction, or severe negligence.
At other times, both parents may have passed away and a relative applies to take custody of the children and provide an upbringing.
This may include:
- Close family friends
For non-parents to acquire custody of a child in Nebraska, it requires filing a petition with the courts, proving the relationship to the child and outlining the reasons behind the request.
This is rarely a straightforward matter and may be contested by the biological parent(s) in court.
Custody Options for Unmarried Parents
We normally think of child custody issues affecting married couples. But parents who are not married and go through a separation are equally affected by child custody laws.
In Nebraska, unmarried parents have the same rights and responsibilities as married parents. Both partners in the relationship can seek custody, parenting time or child support. They should not be considered “nonparents” but may need to go through extra processes to establish the right to seek custody.
For instance, unmarried parents must usually prove that they are indeed biological parents. For the mother, this is usually straightforward enough but the father must undergo a paternity test to confirm the biological parentage of the child or if the father has completed a notarized acknowledgment of paternity, then parentage has been established.