Divorce Laws in Nebraska

Divorce Laws in Nebraska

It’s imperative that you understand on divorce laws work in Nebraska before moving forward with your own case.

Among many other issues, you must clearly understand how assets are divided, what happens to children, and if you are entitled to alimony or not, including how long and how much.

Here are several of the most common laws and legal issues you’ll encounter in a Nebraska divorce.  Become familiar with them but as always, retain the services of a skilled attorney to help you navigate through your own personal case.

What are the Basic Laws Regarding Divorce in Nebraska?

Nebraska is an equitable distribution state, meaning that marital assets and liabilities are split fairly, but now necessarily 50/50.

The courts prefer both parents to remain actively engaged in their children’s lives after divorce, so joint custody is strongly preferred unless there are extenuating circumstances.

Child support is calculated on an Income Shares Model, based in large part on both parents’ income. Alimony may also be granted, either temporarily or for an extended period.

You or your spouse must be a resident of the state for at least one year prior to filing.  If you are pregnant or in the military, some laws will apply to you regarding divorce, but there will also be some differences you will need to know.

For more details on how each of these issues are handled, keep reading below.

How is Division of Property Handled in a Nebraska Divorce?

 division of property

Property is divided using equitable distribution laws.  This means that all marital assets will be divided fairly, but may not be divided equally.  A court may decide to award more marital assets to one spouse, based on several factors.

Before a division of assets can take place, it will need to be decided which assets are marital property and which assets are separate property.

Generally, anything acquired either before marriage or after the date of separation is considered separate property.  Anything acquired during the marriage is considered marital property, except if an inheritance or a gift is given to one spouse and not the other.

Courts will consider several things when ruling on a division of assets.  This will include the duration of the marriage, contributions to the marriage by each party (including homemaking duties), and how spouses supported each other to advance careers or educational opportunities.

Economic misconduct is not considered a factor when dividing assets, but adultery may be taken into account, only if a spouse used marital assets and spent them on the third party.

A prenuptial agreement can take precedence over Nebraska state laws.  It is a binding contract signed by both parties prior to marriage and will be the determining factor above all others when it is executed.

Read: Who Gets the House in a Divorce?

How are retirement plans, IRAs, and pensions divided in a Nebraska divorce?

Retirement Plans and Pensions

Pensions, IRAs and 401k plans earned during a marriage are considered marital property and must be according to equitable distribution rules.  Retirement plan assets accumulated before marriage or after the date of legal separation are considered separate assets and are not subject to division.

Determining an exact value for pension and retirement accounts can be complicated.  In many cases, you may need to retain the services of an accountant, pension valuator, actuary, business appraiser, or a certified divorce financial analyst to reach an accurate figure.

After a value for each account has been established, the retirement accounts will be divided in accordance with the terms of the settlement.  The actual process will require an attorney or a specialized firm to create a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO) for each account.

The QDRO will detail how the account should be split.  It will need to be submitted to both the plan administrator and the court for approval.  After approval, the account is split, and the other ex-spouse becomes an alternate payee.

An attorney can draft a QDRO for you, but there are other options if that is too expensive or unavailable. Online services like QDRO Counsel are the perfect resource to formulate your QDRO.

How is the division of bank accounts handled?

Bank accounts with assets that were acquired during a marriage are considered marital property and must be divided equitably.

If you have assets in an account from before your marriage, and you have kept that account separate, then you will be entitled to the assets without sharing the proceeds.

When making a claim for bank account assets, be prepared to support your case with sufficient documentation.

How are debts divided?


Debts are treated the same way as marital assets in a Nebraska divorce.  They will be equitably divided, though not always in a 50/50 manner.  If a debt was acquired before or after a marriage, or it can be proven the debt belongs to only one spouse, then that spouse will be solely responsible for making sure the debt is paid.

As long as the debt was encumbered separately and not commingled marital debt, then one spouse only may be held accountable for it.

Also, even if your spouse agrees to handle the debt as part of the settlement agreement, if your name still appears on the debt, you are legally responsible to make sure it is paid, no matter what agreement you made with your spouse.

What Happens To Your Inheritance in a Divorce Nebraska? How are Gifts Treated?

Inheritance and gifts are treated as separate property when dividing assets in  Nebraska divorce.  However, if the assets were commingled, meaning they were put into a joint account, or both spouses had access and determined how the assets were used, then they can become marital assets and subject to equitable distribution.

If you want the assets to be considered separate, be prepared to show proof as to why this is the case (i.e. separate bank account and other documentation).

How is Alimony (Spousal Support/Maintenance) Decided in a Nebraska Divorce?


Alimony can be granted on a temporary, short-term, or long-term basis in Nebraska.  Unlike child support, there is no formula to determine the amount or duration of alimony.  Instead, courts will use several statutory factors to determine if and how alimony should be granted.

Some of these factors can include:

  • the length of the marriage
  • the assets and property of each spouse
  • each spouse’s financial circumstances
  • whether either spouse interrupted personal careers or educational opportunities during the marriage
  • the supported spouse’s ability to engage in gainful employment without interfering with the needs of the couple’s children
  • both spouse’s contributions (monetary and non-monetary) to the marriage, including childcare and education
  • child custody and child support issues
  • other issues considered relevant by the court.

The overall goal is to help each party maintain the same standard of living they had during the course of their marriage.  Judges have broad discretionary power to decide alimony issues.

Payments are either made in a lump sum, through periodic payments or by transferring property.

If a spouse falls behind or does not pay according to terms of the alimony settlement, you can seek help from the courts to enforce the order.  Judges can levy penalties, tax intercepts, garnish wages, seize bank accounts, revoke driver’s licenses, and in a few cases, put the non-compliant spouse in jail.

Based on changing circumstances, you can also request a modification of an alimony order, especially if financial conditions are impacted through the loss of a job or severe illness.

Learn More: Pendente Lite: A Complete Guide to Temporary Orders

How is Child Support Calculated During a Nebraska Divorce?

 Child Support Calculated

Both parents have an equal duty to support their children financially in a divorce.  The parent who lives with the children the majority of the time, is most likely to receive payments from the non-custodial parent based on the assumption that the custodial parent already spends more money on the children.

Payments are established based on Nebraska child support guidelines that are used to calculate the amount of support.  For the most part, these guidelines rely on the income of both parents, the number of children who must be supported, and the custody agreement that is in place.  This is known as the Income Shares Formula.

Parents can deviate from the guideline amount if the court approves the change.  Adjustments can be made both up or down for the accepted norms.

Also, parents must pay child support until a child turns 19 in most cases.

There are several forms that can assist you with child support calculations:

  • To estimate what your fair share of support may be, the state has developed a Worksheet 1 that will plug in your net income and other financial information.
  • If you split custody, you may also need to complete Worksheet 2.
  • Worksheet 3 is used when a child lives an equal amount with each parent.
  • Worksheet 4 is used for families with more than one child.
  • Worksheet 5 is used for deviations in support guidelines
  • Worksheet 6 is used for the imputation of the child care tax credit.

If you qualify for child support through Nebraska Child Support Enforcement (CSE), you can get help with the following services:

  • Establishing paternity.  A parent can sign an Acknowledgement of Paternity form at the hospital at birth, or paternity can be established through genetic testing.
  • Locating parents.  If you’re trying to establish a child support order, CSE can help you locate non-custodial parents using several different kinds of data (new hire records, credit records, etc.)
  • Entering or modifying a child support order.  CSE can help you apply for services to make sure you are eligible, as well as helping you modify existing orders if there is a substantial change in your circumstances.  Common reasons for modifying support are when a parent loses a job, a change in health benefits, income increases or decreases, or if there is a change in the parenting-time order.
  • Enforcement.  CSE will help enforce payments due if the non-custodial parent is not meeting their obligations.  This can be done by withholding income, credit reporting, intercepting tax refunds, denying passports, and other court-related actions.

It’s simply not a good idea to duck on support payments if you owe them.  You will be punished by the state as a deadbeat parent if you don’t remain accountable.

How is Child Custody Determined in a Divorce in Nebraska?

Child Custody

In all cases, child custody is based on the best interests of children in a divorce.  This is the standard for all states, including Nebraska.  There are several factors that are considered to determine those best interests.  The court will consider:

  • the child’s wishes or preferences as to custody provided he or she is mature enough to make such claims
  • the parents’ wishes or preferences as to custody, particularly the willingness to establish a continuing interaction between the child and the other parent as this is deemed crucial in the child’s development
  • any history of domestic violence, child abuse, negligence, or substance abuse
  • the child’s ability to adjust to his or her home, school, and community
  • the mental or physical health of the parties involved in the proceedings
  • the child’s relationship to his or her parents, siblings, and other members of the family
  • evidence of spousal abuse
  • the outcome of any investigation conducted to determine the nature of care and welfare of the children

Before granting a divorce, the courts require parents to participate in a mandatory parenting class.  This helps the family’s transition and cope with the trauma associated with a divorce.  In rare cases, a waiver might be granted, but otherwise, both parents are required to participate in the class.  In many cases, the course can be completed online.

Courts always have a joint custody preference unless there are extenuating circumstances that put a child’s welfare at risk.

You will need to draft a parenting plan that will spell out in detail exactly how your children will be taken care of daily.  You will need to propose which parent has physical custody and legal custody, and to what degree those duties will be intertwined.  If you can’t come up with a suitable plan, you may be ordered to mediate the dispute or the court will decide for you.

Apps like Our Family Wizard make it easy to create and implement a sufficient parenting plan.

What role does substance abuse play in determining child custody?

While courts prefer regular and ongoing contact with both parents, if one or both parents suffer from drug or alcohol abuse, the court may restrict or deny custody or visitation rights.

A parent will need to demonstrate the substance abuse exists if they are concerned for the welfare of their children.  Supervised visits only may result until a parent can prove that they are no longer a danger to their ex-spouse and children.

Nebraska Divorce FAQs

How is infidelity treated in a Nebraska divorce?


Adultery generally does not impact a divorce since the state adopted a no-fault model in 1972.  Courts are not allowed to consider bad behavior on one spouse’s part when deciding things like alimony.  Alimony is based strictly on a financial need only.

Adultery does not affect custody or visitation, either, unless it can be demonstrated that an adulterous relationship is creating a negative condition for children.

The only impact adultery will have is if it can be shown that the adulterous adult spent marital assets on an affair.  This could affect how assets are divided.

What role does domestic violence play in a Nebraska divorce?

domestic violence

Because Nebraska is a no-fault state, domestic violence can’t be cited as one of the grounds for a divorce.

However, if you are living in a home where domestic violence is present, the very first thing you must do is get immediate help and go to a place of safety.  Once you are safe, you can start to work out the details for getting a divorce.

Domestic violence can consist of verbal or physical abuse, emotional or economic abuse, sexual assault, intimidation, and threats, stalking, or criminal trespassing or damage to property.

When it is present, domestic violence will play a role in a Nebraska child custody ruling.  The court always puts a child’s best interests above all else.  When domestic violence is present, the courts may deny visitation or custody rights to one spouse.  In other cases, the court may allow supervised visits only.

What is a bifurcation of marital status and how does it work?

Bifurcation means that a judge will allow a couple to split their divorce into two separate parts.

This happens when a divorcing couple can reach an agreement on most issues, but they remain stuck on one or two key points.  Instead of holding up the process, a judge will grant a bifurcated divorce and deal with the few remaining issues at a later date.

The couple is legally divorced, but the court retains jurisdiction over the couple to work out the remaining issues.

Unfortunately, because it complicates divorces, and is a disincentive to finalize a divorce, Nebraska does not allow bifurcated divorces to take place.

What are the disclosure obligations in a Nebraska divorce?

disclosure obligations

When you file for a divorce, part of what you’ll need to do is disclose all of your assets and liabilities as part of the process.  This helps the court determine a fair and appropriate division of assets.

Do not attempt to lie or hide assets, because if you get caught, you’ll be in for some serious consequences, up to and including jail time.

What happens with health insurance during and after divorce?

 health insurance

If your divorce is pending, you can stay on your spouse’s coverage until up to 6 months after the divorce is finalized.  Not all employers offer this benefit, so you’ll need to check and see if it applies to your case.

When you’re not eligible for coverage, you can still investigate what it will cost under COBRA to remain on your spouse’s policy.  Often, it is expensive because you’re picking up the entire costs without help from the employer.  If you choose COBRA coverage, you can have health insurance going this route.

Although you can’t be covered any longer, your children will still be covered in most cases.

You may need to get coverage from the Nebraska Health Insurance Marketplace.  You may even qualify for tax breaks, credits or other savings to help make your health insurance more affordable.

Also, if you have low income and limited assets, you may qualify for health insurance through Medicaid.

Are there any special considerations for military divorces in Nebraska?

military divorces

If you or your spouse are in the military and you want to get a divorce, either you or your spouse must reside or be stationed in Nebraska.

Just like a civilian divorce, you can only file for a no-fault divorce in Nebraska as well.

Servicemembers have certain protections afforded to them by the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act.  Among these protections, you can postpone a divorce while overseas or otherwise not able to adequately respond to the petition due to military service commitments.

However, you can choose to waive delaying the divorce by signing paperwork that allows the divorce to proceed uncontested.

Child support and spousal support are determined by Nebraska state guidelines, but federal law dictates that these awards may not exceed 60% of a servicemember’s pay and allowances.

Retirement benefits are divided in accordance with the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act. This legislation directs that the former spouse must have been married to the servicemember for a minimum of 10 years during which the member performed at least 10 years of military service creditable towards retirement eligibility.  This is known as the 10/10 rule.

It also allows former spouses to receive commissary, exchange, and healthcare benefits after a divorce if the former spouse can show that:

  • the service member served at least 20 years of creditable service
  • the marriage lasted at least 20 years
  • the period of the marriage overlapped the period of service by at least 20 years
When these conditions are met, the non-military spouse is known as a 20/20/20 former spouse.

What if my spouse does not respond to divorce papers? What happens in a default divorce in Nebraska?

After you file paperwork, your spouse has a limited amount of time to respond to the divorce complaint.  If they don’t respond in the allotted timeframe, the judge can move forward with a default divorce.

In a default action, the judge can grant a divorce with all the terms you are seeking, including child custody and support, alimony, a division of property, and other requested terms.

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