Contact Us 402.509.7033
Search Contact Us 402.509.7033
NLG Attorneys

Child Custody for Non-Parents

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:

  • Grandparents
  • Aunts/uncles
  • Close family friends
  • Step-parents

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.

Get in touch with our Lincoln child custody attorneys or our Omaha child custody attorneys to get started.

Free Case Evaluation

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Grandparent Rights in Nebraska

In some circumstances, as previously described, grandparents may want to seek custody of the child. However, sometimes there may be a battle just to maintain contact with a beloved grandchild.

There are cases in Nebraska where grandparents are simply shut off from visiting their grandchildren purely because the custodial parent(s) don’t allow it. This may be the case even if the child is very close to the grandparents and no specific valid reason is given for denying contact.

The courts in Nebraska respect the right of parents to choose who their children spend time with but if you are in this position or need to exert grandparent’s rights for any other reason, an experienced custody lawyer can help.

Grandparents in Nebraska have the right to seek court-ordered visitation with their grandchildren from the district court if any of the following conditions apply:
• The child’s parent or parents are deceased
• The child’s parents are divorced or the divorce petition has been filed but is still pending (no decree entered), or
• The parents have never been married but paternity has been legally established

If eligible, a grandparent must file to intervene in district court in order to attempt to obtain grandparent visitation. The grandparent must be able to show a significant beneficial relationship that is in the best interests of the child to continue and that the visitation rights will not interfere with the parent-child relationship.

Note that the district court cannot order grandparent visitation if the juvenile court has jurisdiction over the grandchildren. A complaint to intervene in the juvenile court case must be filed.
The Juvenile Court has the power to award temporary custody to a grandparent providing he or she is a “reputable citizen(s) of good moral character”.

What Factors Do the Nebraska Courts Consider in a Child Custody Decree?

The primary consideration in any custody decision in Nebraska is the best interests of the children.

The main factors considered when weighing this up include:

• The child’s relationship with each parent
• The ability of each parent to provide day-to-day care, love, and affection
• The child’s preferences (if mature enough)
• The child’s general health, wellbeing, and social behavior
• Any possible negative influences (e.g., drug or alcohol abuse, domestic abuse, etc.)
• Any other factor that affects the best interests of the child

Gender is not a factor in custody cases, so the same applies whether it’s the mother, father, grandfather or grandmother seeking custody.

It is essential to submit the necessary supporting evidence if applying for custody. As a nonparent, this may require considerable evidence. A dedicated child custody lawyer can help you collate and submit this to make a persuasive case.

Omaha Nebraska skyline

Need Help with Child Custody as a Non-Parent in Nebraska?

If you need to exert your rights concerning child custody as a non-parent, our experienced child custody attorneys can help. Call Nebraska Legal Group at 402.509.7033 or get started with a free case evaluation.

Get Started

Frequently Asked Questions

Can child custody be contested?
Sometimes numerous individuals feel they should have the sole, or majority, responsibility and ability to make decisions on behalf of a child. Individuals may also contest where and with whom the child should reside. When these issues arise we would have a contested APR case. The Court will consider the best interests of the children, not necessarily would a certain individual wants in regards to custody.

Can child custody be transferred to another person?
An allocation of parental responsibilities (parenting time, decision-making, and child support) can almost always be modified. So long as the transfer of custody to someone is found to be in the best interests of the child, it is permitted. Sometimes a parent or a party becomes unable to care for a child and in that case custody absolutely should be transferred.

Are custody and guardianship the same?
Custody and guardianship are different. Through a custody proceeding (an APR case) a party can obtain parenting time and decision-making for the minor children. While it might sound similar, a guardianship allows the appointed guardian to make decisions for the well-being of the protected party/ward. The protected party can be an adult or a minor child, but the protected party must lack the ability or capacity to make his/her own decisions.

Contact Us


Omaha Office

Two Old Mill, 10855 West Dodge Rd
Suite 240
Omaha, NE 68154

Lincoln Office

6940 O Street
Suite 314
Lincoln, NE 68510

Tell Us Your Story

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.