Sole Custody in Nebraska – A Snowball’s Chance

childcustodyThe lawyers at Hightower Reff Law in Omaha, Nebraska, know that going through a child custody case can be tough. Sometimes clients think that “going for sole custody” is the thing to do. It may be because they’re afraid of the prospect of losing the opportunity to spend the time they want with their children and watching them grow up in a meaningful way.


The prospect of losing time – or a full relationship – with either parent can be scary for a child as well. That’s one reason Nebraska courts have switched their views on child custody in recent years.

Not long ago, Nebraska courts almost always gave the mother what most people refer to as “full custody,”  unless she was shown to be unfit. In recent years, “full” or sole custody has become the exception rather than the rule.

Joint and Sole Custody Explained 

There seem to be some misconceptions about what joint and sole custody mean. One of the most common we hear at Hightower Reff is that sole custody means the parent without custody has no rights or will never see the child again. Neither of those things is true. Here’s what is true of joint and sole custody:

  • Joint custody
    • Both parents share in all decision making for the child and must agree for a decision to be made.
    • Split time with the child (or close to it). The cut off is whether each parent’s parenting time exceeds 142 days a year. Generally, to be considered a “day” the parenting time includes an overnight stay.
  • Sole custody
    • Only one parent has decision making rights for the child, except in cases of medical emergency when the child is with the non-custodial parent. Then, the non-custodial parent can make medical decisions for the child.
    • One parent has the majority of the time with the child. The non-custodial parent typically has parenting time every other weekend, alternating holidays, and one weeknight (that does not include an overnight).
    • Both parents still have access to medical and educational records.

A Snowball’s Chance

Just a few years ago, it was relatively rare to see a Nebraska court order joint custody unless the parties agreed and could show the court it was in the child’s best interests. Now, the opposite is true. The chance of getting sole custody may be akin to, well, a snowball’s chance in you-know-where unless there are special circumstances – such as one parent traveling a lot for work, or some other reason one of the parents is unavailable to participate jointly in the raising of the child.

Courts are listening to the experts. Many child welfare and mental health experts say that joint custody is best for children of divorced parents. In most cases, it appears Nebraska courts are giving that opinion of the professional community weight in their decision making.

Meanwhile, opponents of the joint custody trend argue it could be damaging to some children. They say there is evidence that joint custody creates attachment disorders in infants.  There’s also discussion by joint custody opponents that, for older kids, switching back and forth between parental homes creates upheaval, stress and inconsistency that could lead to problems.

Room for Argument 

While there is a trend toward joint custody, like any area of the law, it isn’t to be treated as a one size fits all thing. Nebraska statutes recognize that the courts must evaluate each situation based on the facts and circumstances of each individual family and make decisions based upon the best interests of the individual child affected by the court’s decision.

Don’t go it Alone 

In our many years as family law attorneys, we’ve found at Hightower Reff Law, that it’s best in the long run if parents can reach an agreement regarding their custody arrangements and parenting plan with help from their attorneys or a qualified family law mediator, but sometimes that isn’t possible. If you can’t reach an agreement, it’s important to have an attorney experienced in child custody cases on your side so you have the best chance of proving to the court that your custody proposal – whether joint or sole – is the one that is best for your child.

The earlier in your case you get a good lawyer on board who can help you understand and navigate the Nebraska child custody process, the more peace of mind you will have and the more likely you may be to reach the outcome that is best for you and your children.

This article should not be construed as legal advice. Situations are different and it’s impossible to provide legal advice for every situation without knowing the individual facts. 

For details about the author, Hightower Reff Partner Attorney Tracy Hightower-Henne, visit her profile page at our main website.
To learn about Hightower Reff’s Child Custody practice, visit our main website.

The Nebraska Legal Process of Divorce – What to Expect

divorce sign-thumb-400x260-70510-thumb-400x260-70511Divorce is never easy. The family law attorneys at Hightower Reff in Omaha, Nebraska, have worked with divorce clients for years and have found that when clients know the basic court process in Nebraska divorce, they know better what to expect, so they feel greater peace of mind. This article will give you a rundown of that process.

The Paper Chase

To start your divorce, your lawyer will file a Complaint for Dissolution of Marriage and other paperwork with the Clerk of the District Court. The complaint will ask for the court to dissolve your marriage and to determine issues that need to be included in the court order like division of marital property, spousal support and child custody and support if you have children.

Next, your lawyer will have the other party served with the complaint or get their signature on a Voluntary Appearance. After that, the other side has thirty days to file a written answer to the complaint.

It’s Only Temporary

While the divorce is pending, either side can file motions asking the court to enter temporary orders to decide things like who will live in the house or have custody of the children and how much temporary child support will be paid.

Any temporary orders that are entered will stand until the final decree is entered or until other temporary orders change them.

Getting Ready for Trial or Settlement

It will be several months or more until your divorce is finalized. During those months, your attorney and your spouse’s attorney will gather information through a process called discovery.

During discovery, the lawyers will exchange written requests for information. They may have more hearings with the judge to decide what information both sides are entitled to have or to decide any other issues that come up.

There might be depositions was which the attorneys ask questions of witnesses for the opposing sides.

During a deposition, witness’ statements are taken under oath by a court reporter with lawyers from both sides and both parties present.

Deciding the Issues and Getting a Final Order

If you can agree on all of the issues you need to work out to finalize your divorce, you will work with your attorney and/or a mediator to come up with a settlement decree and parenting plan. Both will need to be approved by the court and entered as a court order before they are final and enforceable.

Any issues in the divorce you and your spouse can’t agree on will be decided by the judge at trial. Both sides will put on evidence supporting their position and the judge will issue his or her order in the form of a Divorce Decree.

You’ll have 30 days to appeal the decree and can’t get married again for six months after the decree is issued. 

This article should not be construed as legal advice. Situations are different and it’s impossible to provide legal advice for every situation without knowing the individual facts. 

Looking for Alimony in Nebraska? You may Have Better Luck Finding a Hen’s Teeth

hen empty treasure chest and dog-thumb-250x250-72143If you’re getting divorced in Nebraska and looking for alimony, you may have better luck finding a hen’s teeth, or a flying pig… or any other idiom you choose.

No Hard and Fast Rules

Although there are no hard and fast rules, in most cases, Nebraska courts don’t award alimony – also known as spousal support. If they do, it’s usually for a short time – long enough for the spouse receiving support to get training or education or find a job sufficient to support themselves.

Any award of spousal support is up to the court’s discretion. When the court considers a request for spousal support, Nebraska law says the court is to base its decision on factors like:

  • the duration of the marriage
  • contributions of each party like care and education of the children, interruption of personal careers or educational opportunities; and
  • the ability of the spouse receiving spousal support to engage in gainful employment without interfering in the interests of any children in their custody
  • Other Considerations  

    The court also looks at the relative economic circumstances of both parties and other criteria in its decision.

    In cases where there is child support, that will be determined first, then the amount of alimony will be considered based on each party’s income and expenses after child support is paid.

    Nebraska law specifically states that the purpose of alimony is to provide for the continued maintenance or support of one party by the other when the relative economic circumstances and other criteria make it appropriate.

    Heard it Through the Grapevine 

    Nebraska case law has fleshed out that the most important consideration for the courts when determining alimony is fairness and reasonableness to be determined by the facts of each case. That means that you shouldn’t expect to win your request for alimony based upon the outcome of your friend’s case or another case you heard about through the grapevine.

    A court’s decision can change dramatically based upon a very small change in facts, and there is no way for you to know whether the facts of your friend’s case or that other case you heard about truly match up with yours.

    When it Could Last a Lifetime

    Spousal support is becoming increasingly rare in Nebraska, and permanent (lifetime) alimony is almost unheard of – except in the rarest of cases.

    Those cases usually involve factors such as:

  • Great disparity in income
  • Long term marriages with parties who are advanced in age
  • A party who has a physical or mental disability or health issues that prevent them from working or from working full time
  •  This article should not be construed as legal advice. Situations are different and it’s impossible to provide legal advice for every situation without knowing the individual facts. 

    Moving Away if There’s a Child Custody Order – What you Need to Know

    shutterstock_107478686-thumb-250x286-71316If you have custody of your child and want to move with your child any significant distance away from the other parent, you’ll have to get the court’s permission before you do. These kinds of cases are called “removal” or “relocation” cases.

    There’s no guarantee the judge will allow your child to move with you. It takes an experienced attorney to navigate the sometimes murky waters of Nebraska law when it comes to proving to the Judge that moving your child away from the other parent is in his or her best interests.

    The family law attorneys at Hightower Reff in Omaha, Nebraska have worked with removal cases for years, and, as with most things, we believe that knowing the process makes things less stressful for clients.

    Getting Things Moving

    To start your removal case, your lawyer will file a Complaint for Removal and other paperwork with the Clerk of the District Court.

    Next your lawyer will have the other parent served with the Complaint or get their signature on a Voluntary Appearance. If the other parent has an attorney, your lawyer will work with their lawyer to get these things accomplished.

    After that, the other parent has thirty days to file a written answer to the Complaint.

    Speeding it up

    Temporary orders allowing removal of the child aren’t allowed under Nebraska law, so instead the law provides for an expedited final hearing to resolve the case and get a final order in place.

    Depending on the court’s schedule, your final hearing may happen as soon as two to three months after the other party files their Answer to your complaint. This may not sound fast – but in terms of court time, it is.

    Because the final hearing happens so quickly, the trial preparation process – or discovery phase – goes relatively quickly as well.

    During this time the lawyers will exchange written requests for information. They may have more hearings with the judge to decide what information both sides are entitled to have or to decide any other issues that come up.

    There might be depositions where the attorneys ask questions of witnesses for the opposing sides. During a deposition, witness’ statements are taken under oath by a court reporter with lawyers from both sides and both parties present.

    Ideally, you and the opposing party will be able to reach an agreement with the help of your lawyers or a mediator regarding the move and the terms of your new parenting plan for after the move. If not, you will have to have a trial so the judge can decide those issues.

    Best Interests 

    To prove to the judge at trial that you should be able to move away with your child you have to prove:

    • that you have a legitimate reason for the move
    • that the move is in the child’s best interests

    While this sounds simple, there are a lot more variables that the court weighs in its decision. Things like:

    • the impact of the move on the child’s relationship with the other parent
    • the child’s improvement of opportunity and quality of life in the new location, and
    • the child’s living environment

    …among other things.

    These are all key indicators that help the court determine if the best interests of the child will be served by the move.

    This article should not be construed as legal advice. Situations are different and it’s impossible to provide legal advice for every situation without knowing the individual facts. 

    New Nebraska Child Custody Law Regarding Military Deployments Could Stir Up Controversy

    shutterstock_68018101If you’re a military parent facing deployment or a non-military parent facing the prospect of your child being placed in someone else’s custody when the other parent is deployed, a new Nebraska law could seriously impact you.

    Beginning January 1, 2016, Nebraska became one of 10 states to adopt the Uniform Deployed Parents Custody and Visitation Act (UDPCVA). This new set of laws affects many Nebraska child custody and visitation cases involving a military parent who is deployed and may stir up controversy with non-deployed parents who want custody of their child.

    The UDPCVA has been in the works by a national group called the Uniform Law Commission for quite some time.

    The commission is promoting it as a way to provide for the best interests of children of deployed military parents, without penalizing the military mom or dad for their service and still giving adequate consideration to the rights of the non-deploying parent. However, not everyone may agree with the last claim.

    The law violates the non-deploying parents’ Constitutional rights  

    The United States Constitution protects our rights to parent our legal and biological children over all others through what is known as the parental preference doctrine. Based on this doctrine, and assuming it is legally relevant in a deployment case, a non-deploying parent would expect to have full custody of their child when the other parent deploys since the other parent is unable to exercise their custodial rights.

    Even if there is a non-parent with a close relationship to the child — for instance a stepparent with whom the child has been living or a close member of the deploying parent’s family — the non-deploying parent would have the right to full custody during the other parent’s deployment since they would have preference under the law.

    Under the UDPCVA, the result may be different. If there isn’t already a decree that covers the child’s temporary custody during deployment and a child’s parents can’t agree on custody, they can ask a court to resolve the issue.  A judge can temporarily assign a portion of the deployed parent’s custodial rights to a non-parent if the judge finds that it would be in the child’s best interests. The temporary assignment is effective only until the deployment is over.

    On its face, the UDPCVA seemingly goes against the parental preference doctrine, which could be seen as a violation of the non-deploying parent’s Constitutional rights.

    Or does it?  

    The Uniform Law Commission says that assigning custody rights of a deploying parent to a non-parent is, in fact, allowed by the Constitution. The commission believes the parental preference doctrine doesn’t apply to military deployment cases because those cases involve two parents who can’t agree on custody during deployment.

    Also, the commission says that military deployment cases are different because they don’t involve a court independently granting custody to a non-parent, but rather the temporary assignment of a portion of the deploying parent’s custodial responsibility to a non-parent by request of the deploying parent.

    The commission argues that assignment by the deploying parent does not affect the rights of the non-deploying parent and is an exercise of the deployed parent’s custodial rights to determine how his or her child is cared for. The commission compares it to a parent leaving the child with another responsible adult when they go away on vacation.

    What the courts say

    Courts of appeal in several states, including Iowa, have already upheld cases assigning parental rights of a deploying parent to non-parents.

    However, there is also an older Iowa Supreme Court case in which that court upheld the non-deploying parent’s right to custody over a non-parent.Wisconsin’s appellate court has also rejected the kind of assignment of parental rights that the UDPCVA allows.

    How Nebraska’s courts will deal with the issue remains to be seen, and is sure to be tested.

    Don’t Go It Alone

    If you’re a deploying parent or if the other parent of your child is deploying,Hightower Reff has a team of experienced divorce attorneys who know child custody and the special circumstances of military custody cases.

    Call the office at 402-932-9550, or contact us online and make an appointment to come visit with us. Don’t go it alone.

    This article should not be construed as legal advice. Situations are different and it’s impossible to provide legal advice for every situation without knowing the individual facts. 

    Five Things to Consider If You Are Waiting Until After the Holidays to File for Divorce

    shutterstock_161944220Every December, family law firms tend to see a drop in the number of new clients because people are waiting until after the holidays to file for divorce. There are a lot of reasons, but if you’re among the holiday hem and hawers, you may want to think again.

    Among the most common reasons we hear for people waiting until after the holidays to file are: it’s a hectic time and people don’t want to deal with a divorce; they are afraid they’ll ruin the holidays for their kids; or they are afraid their spouse will ruin their holidays by harassing them about the divorce.

    All of the above reasons are good immediate emotional justifications for waiting until after the holidays to file for divorce, but there are other things to consider that may have greater long term consequences.

    1. Bonuses & Stock Options 

    Bonuses and stock options can be tricky in Nebraska divorce. There is no “hard and fast” rule for valuation dates so long as the valuation date the court chooses has a “rational relationship” to the property to be divided, and the court’s decision will be upheld on appeal unless it is shown that the judge abused his or her discretion.

    Additionally, employment bonuses are usually payment for a period of past service, and not earned at the moment like salary, so, under Nebraska law, they are usually considered marital property if the period of past service for which they were earned was during the marriage.

    The law also says that a bonus earned during the marriage is marital property even if it is not received until after the marriage is over, so long as a the spouse getting the bonus had an enforceable legal right to receive it on the date of the marital separation.

    As a result, filing now probably isn’t going to get you out of the court making an equitable division between you and your spouse of a bonus you are paid in January or February…. or at anytime if the bonus was earned during the marriage.

    Likewise, vesting of stock options accrued during the marriage are what they are, and that is, most likely, marital property if the stock was earned during the marriage.

    The court’s decision regarding both classification of bonuses or stock options as marital property and who gets what part of them if they are marital property is dependent on the facts of your situation. The slightest change in fact can make a big difference in the court’s decision. Your best bet is to consult with a lawyer who is experienced in this area of divorce law before making any decisions.

    2. “Revenge” Gifts 

    ‘Tis the season for gifts – and what better way to exact revenge on a spouse who filed for divorce and ruined your holidays than gifting yourself a brand new Macbook …or television ….or full length mink coat using your spouse’s credit card or with all the funds in that joint bank account?

    This may be something to consider if you are filing – either to weigh in your decision whether to file during the holidays, or to guide your game plan in protecting assets before you file.

    A note of caution if you are considering being the purchaser of such a “revenge” gift – the judge may not take kindly to your actions, and in the final divorce decree, may reduce your property award by half the amount of joint funds you used to purchase that malicious mink coat or other item.

    3 & 4. Death and Taxes 

    They are the only two things in life that are for certain. One is death. If you die before your divorce is final, your spouse is your spouse and will be entitled to a portion of, if not all of your estate, unless you have a very well crafted will that excludes them from inheritance and it is upheld by the probate court after your death if your spouse challenges the will.

    As a result, although the filing date may not matter, the faster you file, the faster your divorce will be done, so if you are in poor health, you may want to consider this factor.

    Regarding the other of life’s certainties – your tax filing in April will provide you with great evidence of the most recent income of you and your spouse. However, there are other ways to get that information, so it is not essential to wait for your taxes to be prepared before you file for divorce.

    Also, because it’s so late in the year, filing for divorce won’t affect your tax filing status. Most couples continue to file as “married filing jointly” until after their divorce decree is finalized. It is a good idea to meet with your tax professional or an attorney knowledgeable in tax law, however, and determine if there are advantages to holding off on filing for divorce under your individual circumstances.

    Additionally, after the divorce, not only will your tax filing status change, if you have children, the final divorce decree will state who is to claim them as dependents each year. In most circumstances, you will alternate with your spouse if there is one child.  If there are two children, you will each claim one until one child reaches the age of majority, then you will alternate claiming the remaining minor child.

    5. The Ghost of Christmas Future

    Whichever of the winter holidays you celebrate, be it Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and/or New Year’s, if you file for divorce at this time of year you may run the risk of being re-visited by the timing of your action during every subsequent holiday until the event discussed above occurs (your death, not taxes).

    Timing the commencement of your divorce with a holiday that is special to your spouse may be an emotional wound to them that will affect them into the future also. Although you may not have the warmest of feelings for them, this is something to consider. When emotions cool down the road, you may regret your decision.

    Even worse, filing your divorce during the holidays may taint this time of year for your children from here forward. They may blame you for your decision and be angry with you now or when they are older, and it may impact your relationship.

    Whether this is a concern or not is something you should evaluate when you file. If you choose to file later, you may want to be aware of any other special occasions that coincide with the start of your divorce process like birthdays, Valentine’s Day, or other holidays that are meaningful for you, your children or your spouse.

    Make Your List and Check It Twice. 

    This list is meant to help you evaluate your individual circumstances. It isn’t exhaustive and you may want to consider other factors as well. Whether you file in December or wait until next year is a choice that you need to make for yourself, with the counsel of your lawyer, based on your circumstances and priorities.

    Perhaps finances make it advisable to wait until after the new year to file, but if there is domestic abuse involved, you need to get help leaving safely and leave now. Or, perhaps finances are irrelevant but you don’t want to risk a December filing for emotional reasons or to protect your children’s enjoyment of the holidays. You have to weigh those things yourself and make the best decision for you. 

    Regardless of whether you decide to file, get your leg work done as soon as you are able. You will need to figure out what your preference is for living arrangements during the divorce, open a new bank account in your name only and get current financial statements and account statements. The end of the year is a great time to collect copies of your financial and account statements as the end of year print outs arrive in the mail.

    Now is also a good time to do the leg work you need to get your legal team in place. Schedule a meeting for an initial consultation with attorneys you are considering so you can decide whom to hire. This will also help you to put together a game plan and arm yourself with legal advice tailored to your individual circumstance so you can get your ducks in a row before filing. The sooner you do those things, the better off you’ll be.

    Don’t Go It Alone

    If you are considering filing for divorce, Hightower Reff has a team of experienced divorce attorneys who can help you work through the things you need to consider to decide the best time to file under your unique circumstances.

    Call the office at 402-932-9550, or contact us online and make an appointment to come visit with us. Don’t go it alone.

    This article should not be construed as legal advice. Situations are different and it’s impossible to provide legal advice for every situation without knowing the individual facts.

    For details about the author, Hightower Reff  Partner Attorney Tracy Hightower, visit her profile page.

    More information about Hightower Reff’s family law practice is available here.

    If you need help with a Nebraska family law case, contact Hightower Reff Law today and come visit with one of the attorneys at the Omaha office. 

    Holiday Parenting Time – Avoiding a Nightmare Before (or During) Christmas

    boy with chalkboard logo parenting pointers-thumb-700x466-65474-thumb-500x332-65475Holiday parenting time can be hard for parents living apart but parenting together. But, as the title of this article promised, there are some things you can try to help smooth holiday parenting time and avoid a nightmare before (or during) Christmas.

    As longtime child custody lawyers, we know that trying to make holiday parenting time work so everyone is happy can be hard on you. That’s especially so when you feel like you’re the only parent who’s trying. But remember, what you’re doing is in the best interests of your children. It’s all about them.

    An added incentive to consider – the potential benefits of working hard to minimize holiday parenting time troubles between you and the other parent go far beyond making the holidays nice for your child. Child psychology experts say that after a divorce, parental conflict over child care issues puts children at greater risk for behavioral and emotional problems.

    Here are a few tips to help you avoid a parenting time nightmare before (or during) Christmas.

    Know school schedules in advance

    Just when you think you have it all worked out and everything is cool, the school goes and changes the holiday break schedule. Even if your parenting plan can adjust to the new schedule without confusion, a change in school calendars may change the amount of time you have with your child. If you realize it at the last minute, you’re less likely to find a solution that both parents can agree on before the holiday.

    In the best case scenario, you and the other parent are able to agree to change things up a bit to give your child an opportunity to have as much time as possible with both parents. But if you can’t agree, you may need to enlist the help of an attorney. For that reason, it’s a good idea to check holiday calendars for the school year as soon as the school publishes them. If you didn’t do that for this school year, check the calendar now for all of the holidays yet to come and try to get things worked out as best you can if there is an issue.

    Stick to the plan

    This may sound simple, but you might be surprised at how frequently one parent decides, on their own, to do something a little different during holiday parenting time without saying anything to the other parent. Usually it’s because they believe it’s a minor change that’s no big deal. Their belief is nearly always incorrect.

    Whether it’s something like changing pick up or drop off time by just fifteen minutes, or having someone else pick up your child and bring them to your holiday celebration instead of picking them up yourself, if it’s something different from what the parenting plan says, don’t do it unless the other parent knows your plan and agrees. Both parents must agree in advance on any deviations from the parenting plan.

    Figure things out early and communicate

    This is the most important thing: communication. However it works best in your situation, let the other parent know what your plans are and give them all the info they need to feel informed and clear about what is going on.

    Many times, if we’re in the dark about something, our imagination takes over and we conjure up all kinds of things that upset us and can cause arguments for no reason. Clear, consistent communication can alleviate this avoidable problem.

    Don’t be a holiday parenting time Grinch

    This is where the “being the bigger person” part comes in. No matter how you feel about the other parent, their holiday traditions, their significant other, or anything else that matters to your child, don’t bad mouth or bash.

    As hard as it is sometimes, remember that it’s about doing what’s right for your child’s feelings and well-being; it isn’t about you. When you communicate with your child about their holiday time with the other parent, or your child is telling you about it, be positive. By doing so, you’ll make your child feel supported.

    Also, if something happens that is beyond your ex’s control, or is out of the ordinary, be flexible. For instance, if you are supposed to have the kids Christmas Day and your ex is supposed to have them Christmas Eve, but the ex is called into work on Christmas Eve, try to accommodate some time for them to enjoy Christmas Day with the kids, even if it puts a damper on some of your plans.

    Get technical 

    There are lots of options for sharable calendars on the web – ranging from Google to parenting calendar websites. Use one of them.

    Shared calendars are a great tool to make sure everyone is clear on who needs to be where when, so everyone is on the same page. If you have tech trouble, you may even ask your child to participate and help you out. Most kids are tech savvy by elementary school. This will make them feel included in an appropriate way while giving them clarity as well.

    Don’t Go It Alone

    If all else fails and you need legal advice or need to take action on a parenting plan problem that manifests itself over the holidays, Hightower Reff has a team of experienced child custody attorneys and a mediator who can help.

    Call the office at 402-932-9550, or contact us online and make an appointment to come visit with us about your parenting time issue during an initial consultation.  Don’t go it alone.

    This article should not be construed as legal advice. Situations are different and it’s impossible to provide legal advice for every situation without knowing the individual facts. 

    For details about the author, Hightower Reff Partner Attorney Tracy Hightower-Hennevisit her profile page.

    More information about Hightower Reff’sChild Custody practice is available here.

    To schedule a time to meet with one of the experienced attorneys at our downtown office, contact us.

    (Almost) Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Nebraska Divorce – Part V – The Decree & After the Ink Dries: Why The End of Your Divorce Case Doesn’t Necessarily Mean It’s Finished

    There’s no getting around it: divorce can be unpleasant and daunting. For most people, the legal process of divorce is especially foreign and scary. With(Almost) Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Nebraska Divorce, we’ll try to take away some of that fear by answering some of the most frequently asked questions we get from our clients about divorce in Nebraska.

    Part V – The Decree & After the Ink Dries: Why The End of Your Divorce Case Doesn’t Necessarily Mean It’s Finished

    So far in our series, we’ve answered questions about getting started with a Nebraska divorce, talked about what to expect after you file for divorce in Nebraska, covered some divorce basics including Qualified Domestic Relations Orders (QDRO’s), and given you some important info about child custody and support. In this final installment, we cover getting the final order and enforcing it.

    Q: Do I have to go to trial?  

    A.  Maybe. In many divorces, a settlement can be reached. In come cases, however, emotions or other factors make it difficult for parties to come to an agreement on the issues and a trial is necessary for the judge to decide them.

    Q: Do my spouse and I have to attend the final hearing?

    A: Not if you both agree to a final settlement and/or parenting plan and have signed the necessary documents. In that case, the Decree, Property Settlement Agreement and Parenting Plan can be submitted to the Judge along with a wavier of final hearing. So long as the Judge finds the agreements acceptable under the law, he or she will sign off without needing you to appear in court.

    Q: When will my divorce be final?

    A:  The divorce is final 30 days after the date the Judge signs the decree.  That means that appeals must be filed within that time period.

    Q: When can I remarry?

    A:  Your divorce is final six months after the date of the decree.  So you must wait six months to remarry – no matter where you do it.

    Q: What if my former spouse doesn’t do what he or she is ordered to do after the Decree is entered?

    A:  It’s best to consult your attorney if your former spouse is willfully disobeying the court’s order. Your attorney can ask the court to require your former spouse to appear before the court and show cause why he or she should not be held in contempt of court. If he or she is found in contempt, the court will generally allow time for the order to be followed. After that time elapses, the parties will return to court. If your former spouse still has not complied, he or she may be sanctioned until there is compliance. Sometimes it can take multiple enforcement hearings before both parties do everything they were ordered to do in the decree. It can be frustrating. A good lawyer is the best support.

    Get the Experienced Help You Need

    If you need help with a divorce, or enforcement of a decree, call Hightower Reff Law at 402-932-9550 or contact us online. We are experienced Omaha area attorneys who can help you through this difficult process.

    This article should not be construed as legal advice. Situations are different and it’s impossible to provide legal advice for every situation without knowing the individual facts.