Nebraska divorce requirement
Either your spouse or you must have been a resident of the state with an intention of making it your permanent home for a minimum of one year before filing for divorce.
If you do not meet this requirement, then you can file for legal separation and once your residency requirement is met, then you can change the complaint and request for a divorce.
If you have not lived in the state for one year, however, you have lived here since your marriage, then you can file for divorce.
You can file for the dissolution of marriage in the county where you live or where your spouse lives.
Once you have filed the dissolution, there is a 60-day waiting period, after which the court will grant the divorce.
Grounds for divorce
In Nebraska, you can file for divorce based on the following grounds:
For a “no-fault” divorce, you must state that there is an “irretrievable breakdown” of the marriage between your spouse and you.
Fault Divorce Grounds
The grounds for a fault-based divorce are:
Either party is mentally ill and does not have the ability to agree to the dissolution of marriage. This also includes incapacity caused by the use of alcohol or drugs.
Step 1: Starting your Nebraska divorce
If you want to file for divorce in Nebraska, the following forms must be completed.
Documents Needed for Filing for Divorce
Complaint: This is filed by the petitioner and the type of complaint depends on the situation of whether the couple has children or not.
Confidential Party and Social Security, Gender, Birth Date(s): Provides information about both the spouses.
Voluntary Appearance: This enter the appearance of the respondent in the case and acknowledges that he/she has received the divorce complaint.
Praecipe for Summons/Personal Service: Filed by the petitioner asking the court to issue the complaint and summons to the respondent when Voluntary Appearance is not entered by the respondent.
Notice of Hearing: Informs the respondent about the hearing date.
Decree: This form terminates the marriage.
Certificate of Completion of Parenting Education Classes: Confirms that both parents have completed the Parenting Education Classes.
Financial Affidavit for Child Support: This is used by the court to determine the child support and has details about the dependants, employment of both spouses, monthly or hourly incomes of both parents, retirement income plans and medical insurance coverage.
Parenting Plan: There are 3 parenting plans and the appropriate form must be used.
Notice of Divorce Proceeding: Allows the petitioner to publish the Notice of Divorce Proceeding and the respondent must respond within 60 days or the complaint will be accepted by the court.
Decree – Service by Publication: This ends the marriage when the petitioner files the decree after the publication of the Notice of Divorce Proceeding.
Affidavit and Application In Forma Pauperis: This is filed by the indigent spouse and if approved by the court, exempts the spouse from paying the fees.
Filing Your Forms
Once the forms are filled, you must make 2 copies of the documents. The original will be filed with the county district court where your spouse or you reside. One copy must be given to your spouse, while the other must be kept with you. You will have to pay a fee for filing your papers unless you fill the Affidavit and Application to Proceed In Forma Pauperis and if the court approves the waiver of the fee, then you need not pay it.
Once you file the papers with the fee, the court clerk will create a file and assign a case number to it, which must be written on all the future documents.
Step 2: Notifying your spouse
You must serve your spouse immediately and if you do not serve your spouse within a period of 6 months of filing the divorce complaint, your case will be dismissed automatically.
You can serve your spouse by one of the following methods:
Voluntary Appearance: This form is signed by the respondent which states that he/she has knowledge about the divorce case.
Praecipe of Summons: This orders the department of the sheriff of your county to serve your spouse and this form is filed with the court.
Service by Publication: This is done by publishing the divorce notice at least 1 time a week in the local newspaper for 3 weeks consecutively.
Step 3: Contested or Uncontested divorce?
Uncontested Divorce (Low Costs)
This is where both parties have an agreement on all the main issues regarding the divorce like:
Marital assets and debts division
Tax deductions and exemptions
Child custody, child visitation and where the kids will live
Medical expenses, health and dental insurance and child support
Any other issues
There are no specific procedures or rules for uncontested divorces; however, they are quicker and if you are able to agree with your spouse on all the issues, the divorce can be completed in less than 6 months.
Contested Divorce (High Costs)
This is when both spouses are not able to agree on some or most of the issues and the case will go to trial and will be heard by a judge in court. The judge will hear the testimonies and the evidence presented by the lawyers of both the spouses and take decisions on all issues that are disputed.
Step 4: DIY or get a lawyer?
DIY divorce Papers (Slower & Least Costly)
The main issue with going this route is that its all on you. You will have to figure out what papers you need and if you make a mistake, you will have to start the process all over again.
If you plan to represent yourself then you must fill out some forms that can be accessed online from the online self-help center of the Nebraska Supreme Court.
You can use these forms only if:
You do not have children from the marriage or you have children; however, you have agreed about the custody and visitation arrangements with your spouse and the biological father of the children is the husband.
Neither your spouse nor you have a retirement or pension plan, real property i.e. buildings, land, etc. or ongoing business.
Neither your spouse nor you want alimony.
If you have minor kids with your spouse, then you must use the forms for Simple Divorce with Children and if you don’t have minor kids, then you must use the forms for Simple Divorce without Children. Fill the forms completely, correctly and neatly.
When you have finished filling the forms, then you can file them with the court clerk at the county courthouse where either you or your spouse live.
Online Divorce Services (Fastest & Inexpensive)
As mentioned above, the main issue with the DIY option is that you have no one to speak with or to help make sure that the paperwork is filled out correctly. Using an online divorce service like 3StepDivorce will allow you to get your paperwork completed in an hour or so depending on the complexity of your case.
For 4 payments of $89 or 1 payment of $299, your able to make the paperwork process much easier on yourself. These services save a lot of time and in most simple cases, you can have your divorce papers in hand within a few hours.
After you answer the questions regarding your case, the online service will fill the necessary forms for you. You can then simply take a printout of the forms and file them with the courthouse with the appropriate filing fee.
Attorney Divorce Trial (Longer & Expensive)
The divorce case will go to trial if both the spouses do not agree on the main terms of the divorce. At the trial, the judge will hear the case along with the evidence and testimonies presented by the lawyers of both parties and then make a decision on the disputed issues.
You do not need to hire a lawyer; however, you will not get any assistance or legal advice from the court if you do not have a lawyer. For a divorce, there are many procedures and having an attorney will ensure that you understand all the procedures and options available to you.
It is recommended that both parties hire a lawyer who can argue your case in the court and protect your interests. However, this means that the case will be long drawn and also expensive.
Step 5: The big issues
The marital property is divided equitably in Nebraska because it is an “equitable distribution” state. If the parties are not able to agree on the property and debt, the court will decide the same.
In Nebraska, the property division is a 3-step process:
Classification of the property as marital and non-marital.
Valuation of the marital assets and liabilities of both spouses.
Calculation and division of the marital estate between both spouses in an equitable manner.
Both spouses will retain any separate property they owned before the marriage and if both spouses cannot agree on the division of property, the court will consider the following when dividing the property:
Contribution of each of the spouses to purchasing of the marital property.
Present and future economic position of both the spouses.
Length of marriage.
In case the couple has minor children, the custody arrangements of the children.
Alimony / Spousal Support
The court may order the payment of one spouse to another after considering:
The length of the marriage
Conditions of both spouses
Contribution of each spouse to the marriage
Interruption of education and career
Contribution to the education and care of the children
The capability of the spouse seeking support to take up employment without the interests of the minor children being affected.
Child Custody Laws
The court will determine the custody of minor children keeping in mind the best interests of the children and will consider the following:
Child’s relationship with each parent before the start of the divorce action or any hearing.
Wishes and desires of the child irrespective of the chronological age as long as the wishes are on the basis of sound reasoning.
The health, social behavior and welfare of the child.
Evidence of abuse on any member of the family or household.
After a hearing in court, the court may decide the joint custody of the child if it finds that this is in the best interests of the child irrespective of parental consent or agreement.
The child support is calculated in Nebraska on the Income Shares Model and in deciding the child support amount that a parent must pay, the court will take into consideration the earning capacity of each of he parents and the Supreme Court guidelines for child support.
Step 6: Finalizing your Nebraska divorce
Once the papers are filed with the court and they have been served on your spouse, you must wait for around 60 days before the final hearing. However, if your spouse and you do not agree totally on all the issues, your spouse may file an “answer” to the complaint, which gives an explanation of the points of dispute. If you are unable to settle the issues via mediation, then you may require to go to trial.
You could have a temporary hearing on basis of the issues and the judge will pass an order that is binding on all parties pending the final order. And, if you have kids, then you must also complete the parenting education class during the waiting period.
If the respondent spouse does not file an answer, then after a period of time, he/she will be deemed to be “in default” and the petitioner can schedule the final hearing.
During the final hearing, the petitioner will give his/her testimony and answer some questions put forth by the judge. It is not compulsory for the respondent to appear for the trial. If the judge finds the divorce order to be reasonable and fair, then he/she will sign the final order of divorce.
However, the divorce will be final only 30 days after the date that the decree is filed. You can remarry only after 6 months and 1 day has passed from the date that the divorce decree is signed and filed with the clerk’s office.
Other helpful resources
The Legal Aid of Nebraska has a “Represent Yourself” section which has a lot of information for individuals who are representing themselves. It contains the family law section which has fa s about Nebraska divorce, a divorce handbook and a legal dictionary. You can also apply for legal representation via telephone or online.