Vacanti Shattuck Attorneys

Are There Different Types Of Custody Available In Nebraska?

Yes. There are basically 2 components to custody. One would be legal custody, the other would be physical custody. Legal custody is the ability to make decisions for a child. It would be the more major decisions such as education, medical, religion and extracurricular activities. So the parent having legal custody would have the right to make those decisions. There also is physical custody and that is the primary residence for the child or the children. So if a parent were to have legal and physical custody, just one parent then that would be considered to be sole custody. If the parents were to share one or both of those other types then that would be considered as joint custody arrangement.

So it’s possible to have joint physical custody which means the children would live half of the time with their mother and half of the time with their father. If they have joint legal custody it means the parents make those more important decisions together. It can be any combination of those. Typically it’s sole custody or some combination of the joint legal or joint physical custody.

What Sort Of Visitation Agreements Can Be Awarded Or Arranged?

In Nebraska, it used to be known as visitation but we now refer to it as parenting time and parenting time is the amount of time that a mother or father are able to have their child or children in their respective care. So in a joint physical custody arrangement, that would mean that both parents would have approximately 50% of the time with the child or the children. If one parent were to be awarded physical custody, then the non-physical custodian would receive parenting time and that parenting time generally would be alternating weekends. Those are typically from a Friday, after school until the next Monday morning and then they also would be afforded sometime during the week. It would be perhaps an overnight opportunity to see the child each week.

Maybe it’s just a dinner opportunity to see the child but the courts don’t like to have one parent meaning the non-custodial parent go almost two weeks without seeing their child. So typically we would see a mid-week opportunity and sometimes we would see that as being an overnight opportunity to have the child or children in the non-custodial parent’s care.

What Are The Restrictions On Relocation Of A Parent Due To Work Or Other Factors?

Relocation cases are some of the most difficult ones that our court is presented with. In that scenario, we have two parents who live in our state which is Nebraska. They live in the same community, which we live in Omaha and one parent might have an opportunity to move to another state. If they are moving just across the border and it’s only a 15 to 20 minutes car ride, it’s not a big deal. But if they are going to move to one of the coasts; to California or out East, it creates a great geographic distance between the parents and so it’s difficult for the court to allow a parent to leave and the take the child or the children with him or her which would necessarily prevent the other parent that remained in Nebraska from having much of a relationship with that child.

But it does happen and the standard is the parent that wants to leave has to prove that he or she has a legitimate reason in order to go and a legitimate reason would be a job opportunity that would not be available in the community where that parent is currently living. Once they get over that hurdle they have to prove that it is in the best interests of the child or the children to take that child or children and move away from the state of Nebraska. That’s always a difficult one. That’s the hurdle where the court generally finds that the parent does not meet the best interests’ standard. So, while it does happen and there are those rare circumstances and some of those circumstances are a military member. That’s a common example where the courts will consider allowing a parent to move because a military member doesn’t have any discretion where he or she is going to be stationed.

If it’s a voluntary move, it’s really difficult to prove it. I don’t know if we’ve had some success with that but we want to make sure that we really analyze the case and have a good opportunity for success before we would recommend pursuing a relocation case of that nature.

What Are Grandparents’ Rights In Child Custody Cases?

Grandparents don’t have any rights. If they are afforded any opportunity to see the child or children through one of the parties that are the parents in the case. For instance if a paternal grandparent was not able to see his or her grandchild through their son and the biological mother was not allowing the paternal grandparents to see the child, then the grandparent could petition the court to establish a really minimal grandparent visitation schedule but ordinarily parental rights are given to parents, not grandparents. We do have a statute that allows for grandparent visitation. It’s not used often but it is used when a grandparent doesn’t have any other mechanism or ability to see a grandchild. In that case, a grandparent could expect to perhaps see a grandchild once or twice a month but it wouldn’t be anywhere near what a biological parent could get in a regular visitation or parenting time schedule.

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