Who Gets the Kids?XX
Child CustodyXXXXXX


The best way to determine custody of children is for the two divorcing parents to agree who should have custody of their children. This decision should be based on what would be best for the children. The less conflict between the parents on this issue, the better for the children. Although this is the ideal, many parents cannot decide who should have custody of the children and in that situation, it will be decided by a judge.

In The Best Interest of the Children
Child custody is determined in the Court by what is in the best interests of the child. In determining the child's best interests, the Court may consider factors such as the respective environments offered by each parent; the emotional relationship between child and parent; the age, sex and health of the child and the parents; the effect on the child of continuing or disrupting an existing relationship; the attitude and stability of each parent's character; the moral fitness of each parent, including the parent's sexual conduct; parental capacity to provide physical care and satisfy educational needs of the child; the child's preferential desires regarding custody if the child is of sufficient age of comprehension-regardless of chronological age, whether the child's preference is based on sound reasoning; and the general health, welfare and social behavior of the child.

Gender Is Not Relevant
The Nebraska statutes on custody specifically state that gender is not to be considered in determining child custody.

Joint Custody.
Joint Custody can be granted. Joint custody is usually a situation in which the children live with one parent for one week, or month, or year, and then live with the other parent the next week, or month or year. Judges are hesitant to grant this because it can tend to be very unstable for the child. This can be particularly true if the parents live in two different school districts. Another type of joint custody can be granted where the child actually lives with one parent, but both parents have an equal say in important matters regarding the child, including things such as where the child attends school, religious instruction, medical care, etc. Obviously, an arrangement like this is realistic only in situations in which the parents get along and are extremely cooperative with each other. Usually that is not the case in most divorces.

Parenting Plans
In 1994, the Nebraska Legislature passed the Parenting Plan Act. This provides for mediation and for parties to develop their own plan for custody and visitation.

Visitation
The party that does not have custody will receive visitation rights. It is usually a good idea to have the specific visitation times set out in the final Decree so that everyone (parents and children) know exactly when the visitation will take place. Minimum visitation is typically considered to be every other weekend from Friday evening to Sunday evening, one evening during the week, alternate holidays and at least 30 days in the summer. This visitation may be modified if the children are very young or there are some other critical extenuating circumstances. Mothers are usually awarded Mother's Day and fathers are usually awarded Father's Day.

Permission to Leave the State
It is important for every custodial parent to know that they must have permission of the Court in order to permanently leave the state with the minor child. In most situations if the custodial parent is leaving the state for an important reason, for example, a new better-paying job, the Court will typically grant permission and will make provisions for visitation for the non-custodial parent and for transportation costs.


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