Nebraska Simplified Divorce Procedures

by Rebecca Hayley
Reaching an agreement on principal issues can simplify your Nebraska divorce filing.

Reaching an agreement on principal issues can simplify your Nebraska divorce filing.

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When both parties agree on custody, visitation and property division, you can easily file for divorce using an online document preparation service. You may want to seek legal advice if you and your spouse own property or operate a business, either of you intends to seek alimony, or your divorce involves a dispute over property, visitation or custody of children.

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Residency Requirement

Nebraska Revised Statute 42-349 requires you or your spouse to be a resident of Nebraska for one year prior to filing for divorce, known as a "dissolution of marriage" in Nebraska. However, if you have been married for less than one year and the marriage took place in Nebraska, you may file for divorce at any time if you have lived continuously in Nebraska since the date of marriage.

Filing for Divorce

To begin your divorce action, file a complaint for a dissolution of marriage. Download and prepare the complaint and vital statistics certificate. File both forms with the clerk of the district court for your Nebraska county. There will be a filing fee. Be prepared to supply confidential information to the clerk when you file, such as the Social Security numbers for yourself, spouse and any children.

Serving Your Spouse with Divorce Papers

Prepare a voluntary appearance form for your spouse. This form allows your spouse to accept service directly from you, i.e. proof that your spouse was given proper notice of the pending divorce action. Give your spouse a copy of the divorce complaint. Ask him to sign the voluntary appearance form and return the original copy to you. You will then file the original voluntary appearance form with the clerk of the court and begin the waiting period. If your spouse will not sign the voluntary appearance form, you can have the sheriff in the county where he resides serve him with the divorce paperwork. Prepare a Praecipe for Summons, the form that authorizes personal service upon your spouse; it can be obtained from the court website. File the completed form with the clerk of the court. The clerk will issue a summons which you can then give to the sheriff for service. The sheriff may charge a fee for this service. If you have been unable to serve your spouse, either using the voluntary appearance or through the sheriff, you may request that the court allow you to serve by publication, i.e. notice published in a general circulation newspaper. Service by publication must be approved in advance by the court.

Waiting Period

Nebraska requires a 60-day waiting period, from the date of service, before the court will hear your case. The date of service is determined by the method used to serve your spouse, known as the respondent. Wait 60 days from the date of service before proceeding to the next step in your divorce action.

Answer/Counterclaim

Nebraska allows your spouse 30 days after the date of service to file a written response to the complaint with the court. Filing an answer is not required. If the parties agree to the terms of the complaint, the respondent does not need to file a response. Should the respondent choose to file an answer, or counterclaim proposing other terms for the divorce, he must send a copy of the answer and/or counterclaim to you.

When Children are Involved

When parties share minor children, Nebraska law requires both parents to attend a parenting education class before their divorce will be finalized. The purpose of the course is to help parents manage the transition from a one-home household with two parents to a two-home family. A list of court-approved divorce education providers is available from the clerk of the court. Upon completion of the course, file a Certificate of Completion of Parenting Education Course along with any paperwork from the course provider with the clerk of court as proof of your completion.

Hearing

Contact the clerk of court for information on how to obtain a date and time for your final hearing. Once your hearing has been scheduled, prepare a Notice of Hearing form, available from the court website, and make two copies, one for your records and one to send your spouse. The original notice of hearing will be filed with the clerk of the court. Nebraska requires you to attend the hearing and testify under oath as to the information given in the divorce paperwork. You will need to prepare in advance because the judge will ask for financial affidavits for child support and a parenting plan, if you have children. Prepare the financial affidavit for child support, decree of dissolution of marriage, and parenting plan using the forms from the court website. Take these with you to the hearing. The judge will make custody and visitation determinations and advise whether he intends to sign the decree during the hearing.

Finalizing the Divorce

Thirty days after the judge has signed the decree, the judge will file it with the clerk of the court. The divorce is not final until six months after the judge has signed the decree of divorce. Wait no fewer than six months and one day after the judge signs the decree before marrying anyone else.