Two Types of Custody in Nebraska, A Variety of Outcomes

Father and daughter playing outdoors

Two Types of Custody in Nebraska, a Variety of Outcomes

In Nebraska, co-parents in a custody case are awarded two types of child custody. Physical custody, as it implies, determines how long the child lives with each parent. Time with each parent is usually determined by how often each parent has the child overnight at their home. Physical custody can be joint, meaning that each parent shares custody of their child on a relatively equal basis. Or, the court can award one parent primary, or sole physical custody. The court makes this determination based on the best interests of the minor child. The type of physical custody awarded directly impacts the child support and other expense sharing allowances one or both parents receives in the order. If the court awards one parent primary physical custody, then their child support from the non-custodial parent will almost always be higher than in a joint custody situation. However, if awarded joint physical custody then any reduction in child support could be made up for in other expense sharing, such as extracurricular expenses.

Legal custody, meanwhile, is a parent’s ability to make fundamental decisions for their child in areas such as education, religion, and healthcare. Most often, even if one parent is awarded primary physical custody the court will award joint legal custody. Courts often do this to ensure the non-custodial parent is kept in the loop, and has an equal say, regarding his child living with the other parent. In certain cases, even if one parent requests joint legal custody, the court will refuse to award it if not in the child’s best interests. This would include occasions where joint legal custody is going to create recurring conflict between parents, or where a history exists of one parent usually making decisions for their child. Absent such occasions, however, the court in an initial custody proceeding; i.e., original divorce or paternity action, will usually err on the side of making both parents work together in decision-making, regardless of physical custody.

If going through a custody case make sure to discuss with your attorney the options regarding both types of custody, and the responsibilities that follow such awards. For example, if the court awards joint physical custody, what regular weekly parenting time schedule makes the most sense for your family? While a week-on, week-off schedule may make more sense for older children, courts are more inclined to divide each week into either a 2-5 or 2-2-3 schedule to ensure regular time for parents with younger kids.

If awarded joint legal custody, make sure to maintain dialogue with your co-parent as to fundamental decisions. Disagreement on fundamental issues should be brought to the court’s attention early on in your case so the court knows of such differences and can rule on them to avoid further conflict. If awarded primary legal custody, do not think this means you can cut your co-parent out of the decision-making loop – you cannot. And, if you do during the case then your conduct can be used as an argument later on as to why joint legal custody is necessary in your decree. As in all communications with your co-parent, make sure to document in writing to avoid any confusion or miscommunication.

Two types of custody in Nebraska, a variety of outcomes and responsibilities. Make sure to discuss all of them and more with your attorney early on in the case. For further assistance and advice with this and other issues in your case, please contact the experienced team of family law experts at Slowiaczek Albers & Whelan PC, LLO to schedule your initial consultation.

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