Nebraska Divorce Guide

Divorce in Nebraska

The best way to protect yourself if you’re getting a divorce in Nebraska is to get educated.

What are the costs? How long will it take? Do I need an attorney? How do I file for divorce? What’s the process?

If you’re like most people, you have hundreds of questions like these swirling around in your head.

Here’s our guide to divorce in Nebraska:

What Are Grounds for Divorce in Nebraska?

Nebraska is a no-fault state, meaning that all you must do to prove conditions exist for a divorce is to claim your marriage is irretrievably broken, without the chance for reconciliation.

Legal Separation vs. Divorce in Nebraska

Legal Separation vs a Divorce

A legal separation does not end a marriage, but it does resolve many of the elements such as dividing marital property, child custody and visitation, child support, and alimony, or other related issues.

At the end of the legal separation, you are still married to your spouse. Some couples choose this as opposed to a divorce for several possible reasons.

In some cases, religious beliefs are against the idea of divorce. Legal separation allows the couple to live separate lives but still stay married.

Legal separation can also serve as a time out for a couple who may not be completely sure they want to divorce each other. It gives them time to sort through emotional issues.

Legal separation also preserves access to health benefits that would otherwise end when the marriage ends.

Legal separation may also play a part in qualifying for spousal benefits such as Social Security, military retirement pay and other similar offerings.

Immigration status can also be affected. If a noncitizen gets a divorce, they may be deported. But with a legal separation, they can stay in the country even if they don’t continue to live with their spouse.

What’s the difference between an annulment and a divorce?

In some limited circumstances, courts in Nebraska will grant an annulment. The difference between a divorce and an annulment is that a divorce ends a marriage and annulment treats a marriage as if it never existed.

The only reasons a Nebraska court will grant an annulment are:

  • Your marriage was illegal (perhaps because you and your spouse are too closely related)
  • Either spouse was impotent or mentally handicapped at the time of the marriage
  • Bigamy (one spouse was already married)
  • One spouse forced the other into the marriage using threats or fraud, meaning they lied to you.

If you are seeking the annulment, it is up to you to provide proof as to why it should be granted.

What Are My Options for Getting a Divorce in Nebraska?

Options for Getting a Divorce

One of the first choices you’ll need to make is deciding what kind of divorce you want to pursue.

Sometimes, these decisions are made for you based on your relationship with your spouse. At other times, you may be able to agree on a course of action to save you both, time, money, and frustration.

Here are your options:

Do-It-Yourself divorce. Also known as an uncontested divorce. When you both can agree on all the issues in advance, you can file minimal paperwork with the court, and you’ll usually be granted a divorce in the shortest possible time, the least amount of stress, and the lowest costs. You may be able to go through the entire process without appearing in front of a judge, or appearing only briefly to answer a few questions.

Online divorce. Similar to a DIY divorce, this option relies a lot more on filling out forms through an online service of working with an attorney via email to speed the process and save costs.

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Divorce mediation. You and your spouse will meet with a neutral third party who will help you work through disagreements that may include property division, child custody and visitation, and so forth. When you reach an agreement, a proposal will be submitted to the court for approval.

Collaborative divorce. An option for couples who still have a fair amount of cooperation and trust, disagreements are resolved in a respectful and amicable way using attorneys who are specifically trained in collaborative law. This leaves decisions with the couple and not a judge. If collaboration fails, you can move forward with other types of divorce, but you will need to retain a different attorney if you do.

Litigation. Litigation is a traditional approach to divorce. You and your attorneys engage with your spouse and their attorneys to negotiate a settlement. If you can’t reach an agreement, then litigation will move to the trial phase.

Arbitration. This is similar to mediation, but instead of a third-party mediator, you work with an arbitrator (often a private judge), who will listen to both sides and then issue a binding ruling. People often choose this when there is a lot of conflicts, but they don’t want the public exposure, cost, and attention of a full trial.

Read More: What are the Types of Divorce?

What is the Process of Getting a Divorce Nebraska?

Process of Getting a Divorce

To start your divorce, you must complete and file forms with the clerk of the district court. At a minimum, the forms you need to file will include:

You will also need to pay a filing fee or file fee waiver papers to request a judge to waive the cost of filing.

Other forms may be required based on your particular situation. You can see a complete list of forms on the Nebraska Judicial Branch website by going here.

You will be given a case number and you will be advised which judge will hear your case.

After you have filed forms with the court, you must officially let your spouse know you have filed for divorce. This is known as “service of process.” You can give notice to your spouse in one of the following ways: Voluntary Appearance, Praecipe for Summons, or Service by Publication.

After your spouse is served, they are considered the defendant in the case. He or she will have 30 days after being served to file an Answer and Counterclaim for Dissolution of Marriage response to your complaint with the court. A response is not required, but if you do file, you will need to provide your spouse with a copy of the papers which can be sent by first-class mail.

You cannot ask the court to hear your case until at least 60 days from the date your spouse was served:

  • If the sheriff served your spouse in person, the 60 days begin to run the day after the sheriff served your spouse.
  • If you filed a Voluntary Appearance signed by your spouse, the 60 days begin to run the day after you file the Voluntary Appearance with the court.
  • If you served your spouse by publication, the 60 days begin to run the day after the last date the Notice of Divorce Proceeding was published in the newspaper.

When children are involved, parents must complete a Parenting Education course sometime before the final hearing. The court-approved providers are available online. Once you complete the course you must prepare and submit a Certificate of Completion of Parenting Education Course.

Contact the clerk of the district court to request a hearing date. Different courts have different procedures, so be sure to check with your specific court.

Notify your spouse of the time and date by completing a Notice of Hearing. File a copy with the court and send a copy to your spouse by first-class mail.

During your hearing, the court will rule on parenting time, child support and other issues. You are required to come to court with a completed child support calculation. You must also have a Parenting Plan that needs to be submitted for approval.

At the hearing, you will testify about your divorce. At that time, the judge will decide whether or not to grant a Decree of Dissolution.

After the decree is signed, it is filed with the clerk’s office, but the divorce will not be final for 30 days. Also, you cannot remarry anyone anywhere in the world for at least six months after the decree is signed and filed unless your spouse dies.

If you do not appear at the hearing for any reason, your case may be dismissed and you will have to start the process all over again.

Can I File for Divorce in Nebraska Without an Attorney?

Divorce Without an Attorney

Yes. You are not legally required to use an attorney in Nebraska to get a divorce.

In some cases, people file for divorce on their own. This generally works best with an uncontested divorce. Be aware that doing so may put you at a disadvantage if a disagreement occurs. You could make a mistake and cost yourself dearly in the process.

If you do run into problems and you’re not sure how to proceed, you’re always free to retain an attorney at any time along the way.

Can I File for Divorce Online in Nebraska?

 Divorce Online

You can work with a service or an attorney online to help you prepare paperwork, but filing must be done in person at a district courthouse.

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Can I Mail Divorce Papers in Nebraska?

The only time you can complete “proof of service” by mail is if your spouse lives in another state. In this case, you will need to contact the sheriff’s office in the county where your spouse lives and make arrangements with them for service.

You can then mail a copy of the paperwork to the sheriff for the county where your spouse lives, along with a letter explaining that the complaint must be served in person before the return date listed on the summons. You will receive a “return of service” from the sheriff to prove that the paperwork was served.

Can I Refuse or Contest a Divorce?

No. If your spouse wants to divorce you, they can move forward with or without your cooperation. You can contact an attorney who might be able to delay the process to some degree but ultimately, the divorce will be finalized sooner or later.

How Long Does a Divorce Take in Nebraska?

How Long Does a Divorce Take

The length of time for a divorce in Nebraska depends completely on the type of divorce.

If you reach an agreement on all the issues beforehand and file for an uncontested divorce, you can get the courts to approve a final agreement at a final hearing that, by law, must be held at least 60 days after paperwork is served on your spouse. Generally, it will take a bit longer due to court backlogs and the availability of a judge.

If you go through mediation, collaboration or other forms of negotiated divorce, the process can take several months longer, depending on how quickly you move and the level of cooperation between you and your spouse.

All forms of litigation take the longest amounts of time. If a divorce is complicated, involves large sums of assets, or there is a high level of conflict between the spouses, a divorce could easily take two years or more to resolve.

What is the Waiting Period to Get a Divorce in Nebraska?

After you file paperwork and serve your spouse, there is a 30-day waiting period to give your spouse a chance to file a response. A divorce hearing in front of a judge must be scheduled at least 60 days after initial paperwork has been served on your spouse.

Due to scheduling and backlogs, the waiting period is often longer.

How can I expedite my divorce?

The best way to expedite a divorce in Nebraska is for you and your spouse to work cooperatively to resolve all of your issues before your hearing. If you can figure out a division of assets, child custody, child support, alimony, and other key points, this will result in the shortest timeframe to complete your divorce.

How much does it cost to file for a divorce?

Cost of a Divorce

You must pay a $158 filing fee at the time you submit paperwork to the court to start your divorce. If you can’t afford to pay the fee because you have low income, you can request permission from the court to have the fees waived.

How Do I Cancel a Divorce in Nebraska?

The only person that can cancel a divorce is the person who filed the original complaint with the court. If you are able to reconcile with your spouse or change your mind for any reason, you can file a motion to dismiss your legal action, and the case will be dismissed.

What is a Contested Divorce?

When you and your spouse are not able to reach a consensus on all the issues, you will have a contested divorce. Common disagreements involve a division of assets, alimony, child custody and support and other similar types of issues.

You can either attempt to resolve these issues collaboratively, or you can litigate the issues which may result in a trial in front of a judge.

What is an Uncontested Divorce?

An uncontested divorce takes place when you and your spouse agree on all of the issues before you appear before a judge. You present a settlement agreement that the judge will review and approve to complete your divorce.

What is a Divorce Decree?

Divorce Decree

A divorce decree is the final court-approved document that officially terminates a marriage in Nebraska. Officially, it is known as a Decree of Dissolution. A divorce will be final 30 days after the date that the decree is issued.

However, both spouses can’t remarry for at least six months following the entry of the decree.

The Decree of Dissolution is a legally binding document that provides specific terms, rights, and responsibilities for each party, including alimony, child custody and support, a division of assets, and other important matters.

If either spouse does not follow the requirements in the decree, legal actions can be taken to force them to comply with any deficiencies.

What is Proof of Divorce?

A proof of divorce contains only minimal information about a divorce, including when and where the divorce took place, but little else.

In some cases, a proof of divorce certificate may be required if somebody wants to change their name back to their maiden name, or if they want to get married again.

The State of Nebraska Bureau of Vital Statistics holds divorce records, along with other important records such as birth and death information as well.

To obtain proof of divorce in Nebraska, you will need to contact Vital Statistics and pay a $16 fee.

You can get contact information and the process for obtaining a certificate here.

Can I Stop a Divorce?

No. If a person wants to divorce you in Nebraska, there is nothing you can do to stop them.

You may delay the process by contesting aspects of the marriage settlement but ultimately your divorce will be finalized with or without your participation.

Can I Reverse a Divorce?

If you are the petitioner in a Nebraska divorce, and you want to stop a divorce in progress, perhaps because you have reconciled with your spouse, you can do so by filing a request to dismiss the divorce complaint.

But if you finalize the divorce, you can’t reverse the results. If you want to stay married to the same person, you will need to marry them all over again.

What is a Bifurcated Divorce?

In some cases, a judge will allow a divorcing couple to split issues up that may be impacting their divorce, resulting in two trials instead of one. This is known as bifurcation and allows parts of a divorce to move forward while allowing remaining contentious issues to be resolved later on.

Some states allow this, but Nebraska does not.

All issues must be resolved before a final dissolution of marriage is granted.

What is a No-fault Divorce?

What is a No-fault Divorce 1

A no-fault divorce in Nebraska simply means that you and your spouse are not attempting to affix blame for the failure of your marriage. You only need to state that your marriage is irretrievably broken and there is no chance for reconciliation.

It is the only way you can file for divorce in Nebraska and simplifies the process quite a bit.

How Does Adultery Affect Divorce in Nebraska?

When Nebraska switched to a no-fault model for divorce, it effectively did away with reasons why a divorce should take place, including adultery. Courts can’t consider bad behavior such as adultery when determining fault.

The same holds true for alimony, which is based strictly on financial need and not misconduct of one spouse or the other.

Adultery also does not affect child custody and visitation, unless it can be proven that an adulterous arrangement will have a negative impact on the children.

One area where adultery may come into play is with a division of assets. If it can be proven that one spouse spent money on an affair, the other spouse could be compensated for that bad behavior.

Changing Your Name

As you prepare your divorce forms, you will be able to choose to either restore your former name or request a court order for changing names.

Name changes are granted as part of your divorce. You may either receive a separate court order making your name change official, or have your name change recorded on the final divorce decree. Both of these documents are accepted with all US organizations and agencies as evidence of your name change.

Having a court order does not mean that your name change has taken effect yet. You need to contact all of your organizations to request that your records are updated.

It’s best to begin by updating your name with the Social Security Administration. Once complete, you can go on to change names everywhere else.

It’s time-consuming to contact each company and figure out what to send where, so we recommend using an Easy Name Change kit to cut out the 10+ hours of research and paperwork that follows.

Read: 5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Changing my Last Name

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