Many couples seeking a divorce relish the opportunity to stick it to their soon-to-be former spouse in court TV style dramatic fashion, but a majority of spouses simply want to quickly wash their hands of the matter. For spouses who want a quick resolution to their divorce, an uncontested divorce filing may be the best option. In many cases, spouses for uncontested divorce will not even need to appear in front of a judge.
This article will explain the nature of an uncontested divorce and Nebraska uncontested divorce law. If you still have any questions after reading this article or would like to file for an uncontested divorce, you should consult with an experienced divorce attorney.
Uncontested Divorce in Nebraska Defined
Unlike many other states, Nebraska does not have a specific mechanism for allowing couples to file for an uncontested divorce. Even so, however, Nebraska courts recognize the value in allowing couples who have agreed on the terms of their divorce expedite the divorce process. This is why Nebraska courts allow couples to seek a divorce (known as a dissolution of marriage in Nebraska) by agreement.
A dissolution of marriage by an agreement is simply a type of uncontested divorce filing in which the spouses file for divorce normally and then agree on the terms of the divorce via written property settlement agreement. Written property settlement agreements are legally-binding documents fixing the terms of a couple’s divorce. While the uncontested divorce process in Nebraska still requires the spouses to make a proper divorce filing, the process becomes very easy, inexpensive, and quick after the settlement agreement is filed.
Requirements for Seeking a Nebraska Uncontested Divorce
To file for uncontested divorce in Nebraska, the filing spouses must meet certain requirements. Any questions about these requirements can be answered by an experienced Nebraska divorce attorney or family lawyer.
The first requirement for seeking any type of divorce in Nebraska is satisfaction of the state residency requirement. Spouses seeking an uncontested divorce must either prove that they have lived in Nebraska for at least one year, or, if the marriage was created in the State of Nebraska, divorce can occur at any time so long as at least one of the parties has continued to live within the state of Nebraska until the divorce has been filed.1
Next, the spouses must agree on the reason for getting a divorce (also known as the grounds for divorce). The spouses simply have to allege that the marriage is irretrievably broken.2 When a personal relationship with another under the institution of marriage has deteriorated to the point that the parties can no longer live together, the marriage is irretrievably broken.3
Finally, as indicated before, the spouses must create a written property settlement agreement. A written property settlement agreement is a legally binding document that states the terms of a couple’s divorce. These agreements are discussed in more detail below.
On Spousal Support and Written Property Settlement Agreements
When spouses sit down to discuss the terms of their divorce, it is often beneficial for the spouses to sign a legal written property settlement agreement. A written property settlement agreement is NOT a formal divorce. A written property settlement agreement is a contract between spouses that lays out their agreement and terms of their separation. A fully completed written property settlement agreement can serve as the basis for an uncontested divorce, and may be helpful in filling out the required divorce paperwork. Prior to signing any written property settlement agreement (or any contract with your spouse), you should have an experienced attorney review the terms of the contract for you.
Under the laws of Nebraska, a written property settlement agreement between two spouses must, at the very least, address the following issues:
- A parenting plan for minor children resulting from the marriage;
- Child custody;
- Parenting time and visitation;
- Other access to the child or children; and
- Child support.
Child support payment amounts specified in the marital settlement agreement should conform to the State of Nebraska child support guidelines. Failure to adhere to the guidelines could result in a judge altering the agreement for the spouses.
A fully completed written property settlement agreement should also include provisions on the following issues:
- Alimony (also known as spousal maintenance or spousal support); and
- The disposition of marital property and debts.
The Nebraska judge hearing your divorce case will be required to rule on any issue not addressed in the written property settlement agreement. Failure to agree on any of the above issues could result in your divorce becoming contested. Additionally, the judge must find that the agreement is essentially fair and not unconscionable to either party before it will approve the settlement agreement.
The Process for Filing for an Uncontested Divorce in Nebraska
Once you and your spouse have decided to file for an uncontested divorce, the general flow of the process is as follows:
- This step is optional, but you should begin by consulting a family law attorney who can either answer any questions that you may have, or who can help you file your divorce paperwork properly.
- Next, you and your spouse should create a legally-binding property settlement agreement as described above.
- Once you and your spouse have agreed to the terms of divorce, you and your spouse must acquire the divorce forms and fill them out appropriately. For spouses who are seeking a divorce without the assistance of an attorney, Nebraska provides a series of sample forms on its Judiciary Branch website.4
- You must then decide where to file the divorce paperwork. You must file for divorce in the district court in which either spouse meets the residency requirement.
- Next, the filing spouse must file the complaint of divorce with the clerk of the district court and pay the filing fee. The filing spouse must then serve the non-filing spouse with the divorce complaint by delivering a copy of the complaint and divorce summons.
- The non-filing spouse should then file an answer to the complaint admitting the allegations. Both spouses should then file an affidavit in writing that the marriage is irretrievably broken and attach a copy of the written property settlement agreement. The affidavit should be accompanied by written waivers of the right to a divorce hearing.
- If a minor child is involved, the court may order marriage counseling to ensure that there is no possibility of reconciliation.5
- Wait! Once sixty days have passed since the non-filing spouse was served, the court will enter a decree of dissolution without a hearing.
Note: This article is not legal advice. Please consult a lawyer for your specific situation.
- R.R.S. Neb. § 42-349.
- R.R.S. Neb. § 42-353.
- Mathias v. Mathias, 194 Neb. 598, 234 N.W.2d 212 (Neb. 1975).
- R.R.S. Neb. § 42-360.