When people talk of child custody, it may refer to one of two types of custody:
- Physical custody – who the child spends most of the time with, lives with and spends most overnights with
- Legal custody – who makes decisions regarding the child’s upbringing, including health, education, social life, and so on.
So, custody decisions in Nebraska affect practical matters like living arrangements, as well as the moral guidance, upbringing, and decision-making responsibilities for the child.
There are two ways to make custody decisions: either you and your spouse can decide and have it ratified by the Nebraska courts or you can let a judge decide the best arrangement for the child.
The preference in Nebraska is for legal custody to be shared and for the child to have ongoing and frequent contact with both parents regardless of who the child lives with. Every attempt should be made for this in normal circumstances.
Sometimes, however, this may be neither possible nor desirable (if contact puts the child in danger, for instance). It depends on circumstances. The judge will assess each case carefully on its merits to determine the best interests of the child – notably their health, safety, education, and so on.
It is generally best if you maintain control of the decision and work out a custody arrangement with the other parent– but this usually requires an amicable separation and considerable communication in the future. That is not always possible.
If you can agree with your ex on parenting time, legal custody, and child support, a lawyer can help you draft the parenting plan so that it will be approved after a court review. If the agreement is in the best interests of the children, approval should be granted.
If no agreement is possible, the court will require mediation. Alternatively, it may decide on custody, visitation and/or child support after a hearing at which both parents put a case forward with a proposed parenting plan.