Divorce in Nebraska

In Nebraska, a “divorce” is officially called a “dissolution of marriage” because it dissolves the legal relationship, both rights and responsibilities, spouses have to each other. For a divorce in Nebraska, the Plaintiff (person who starts the action or filing) must have resided in Nebraska for more than one year (12 months) with the intent of making Nebraska his or her permanent home (Nebraska’s residency requirement). If this requirement has not been met, a legal separation (see Legal Separation below) may be the best way to start. Nebraska requires the filing of a Complaint giving basic information about your marriage and several forms related to vital statistics about the persons involved. The person being sued for divorce must be given notice by “being served” (a copy of the Complaint given to them in person by a Sheriff’s deputy) or by entering his or her “Voluntary Appearance” (signing a document attesting s/he received a copy of the Complaint). The Defendant (non-filing party) then has 30 days to file an Answer. Nebraska does have a mandatory waiting period of 60 days before a divorce can be finalized, whether an Answer is filed in 30 days or not. In all divorces, issues of the assets and debts of the marriage must be handled during the divorce.

Divorce with Children
(UCCJEA NE Parenting Act)

If you have children with your spouse, their custody, support, and time with each parent must be addressed as part of your divorce. There are several additional requirements for dissolution of marriage (divorce) when children are involved. These apply first, at the beginning of the case, when the filing party must include some additional information required by the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, adopted by Nebraska, such as where the child/children have lived for the past five years prior to filing and whether any other cases regarding custody or parenting time exist; secondly, the parents involved must take a co-parenting class approved in Nebraska to address how they will co-parent despite the change in their relationship with each other; finally, if the parents cannot agree upon a parenting plan, mediation with a licensed mediator is required.

Spousal Support/Alimony

Unlike child support, there currently are no specific guides for determining alimony (or “spousal support”) in Nebraska. The court must look at the facts specific to each case to determine if alimony is appropriate and if so, how much alimony is appropriate. Some of the factors the courts do consider include how long the parties were married, the respective earning capacities of each party, the history of contributions and withdrawals from marital funds and assets by each party, etc. If alimony/spousal support is not awarded at the time of the initial dissolution of marriage (divorce), it can never be awarded. If alimony/spousal support has been awarded, however, it can be modified both in amount and length/duration, based upon changes in circumstances of the parties (both payee and payor).

Marital Property

With some notable exceptions (including premarital property and certain gifts or inheritances), Nebraska is generally a “community property” state – meaning that all property acquired during the marriage is subject to division in a divorce/dissolution of marriage.

Marital Debts

With some notable exceptions, any and all debts incurred during the marriage are subject to being divided in the divorce, regardless of knowledge of the debt or in which spouse’s name the debt was incurred.