Nebraska’s Divorce Process: What to Expect?

Going through marriage dissolution can be difficult and confusing if you are not familiar with the legal process of divorce. Whether you plan a simplified online divorce process, are contemplating an amicable, mediated divorce, or expect a contentious legal battle, you need to understand what is the process of divorce in Nebraska first. Even when hiring a lawyer, being well-informed about the divorce process in Nebraska can help you choose the right expert in the field. Therefore, in this article, we will provide you with a few insights into the Nebraska divorce process to help you set realistic expectations. We’ll cover the basics of filing with the court, outline the main divorce steps and paperwork required, and describe how the courts finalize a divorce.

How to Begin a Divorce Process in Nebraska?

To officially begin the divorce process in Nebraska, one or both spouses need to file a Complaint for Dissolution of Marriage with the District Court Clerk’s office in the county where either of them lives. Based on NE ST § 42-349, you, your spouse, or both must have physically lived here for at least one full year right before filing.

The initial filings demonstrate that you meet basic jurisdictional prerequisites to start a divorce process in Nebraska. Standard documents require providing background personal information, including but not limited to:

  • Your full legal names and ages;
  • Date and location where you were legally married;
  • Details to confirm the appropriate length of residency in Nebraska;
  • Names and ages of any minor children you and your spouse have together;
  • Legal grounds for seeking the divorce.

Nebraska is a no-fault divorce state, meaning marital misconduct like adultery or abandonment cannot be used as grounds for a divorce. According to NE ST § 42-361, a no-fault divorce may be granted if the court finds the marriage is “irretrievably broken” and there is no chance for reconciliation due to serious marital difficulties as evidenced by affidavit and testimony from one or both spouses.

Base filing fees apply, with additional costs possible depending on the types of motions submitted. If the plaintiff cannot afford court fees, they can complete and file an Affidavit and Application to Proceed In Forma Pauperis.

Having an experienced Nebraska divorce attorney to assist with starting the divorce process can be beneficial if you and your spouse find it hard to reach an agreement. A professional will explain what is the process of divorce in Nebraska, help with filing the Complaint, and guide you through to ensure that the appropriate legal procedure for divorce is correctly followed. It is, however, a costly decision that may cost you $5,000 to $30,000. If your divorce is amicable, you can get completed divorce paperwork and instructions on further steps from our online service for a mere $139.

Step-by-Step Divorce Process in Nebraska

Navigating a divorce process in Nebraska involves a series of legal procedures to officially dissolve the marriage. Typically, you will need to go through the following divorce steps:


File a Divorce Complaint: The process formally commences by filing a Complaint for Dissolution of Marriage with the Clerk of the District Court in the proper county per the residency rules. This petition and accompanying documents, such as financial disclosures, outlay relevant background details on the couple and marriage.


Serve Your Spouse: Within 6 months after filing, the plaintiff must formally serve the other spouse with the divorce paperwork in person or by certified mail or publication. Details on serving divorce papers in any other manner rather than by personal service can be found in NE ST § 25-517.02.


File Response: Once served, your spouse has 30 days to provide a formal legal response addressing the divorce petition allegations and making any counterclaims. If they fail to respond, the judge may issue a default judgment.


Waiting Period: The court may start examining your case not earlier than the 60-day waiting period from the date of service expires.


Parenting Classes: Divorcing couples with minor children must complete a court-approved parenting education course covering the impact of divorce on kids. Classes also aim to encourage agreements in the children’s best interests. Parents file a certificate of completion with the court before they can proceed further.


Discovery & Temporary Orders: Next is the discovery and temporary orders phase per NE ST § 42-357. The couple should exchange financial records and other disclosures detailing marital assets, incomes, expenses, and debts to be divided, which will shape later property settlement and support determinations. Either party can request temporary court orders around child custody, support payments, or restrictions on financial transfers while the divorce is pending.


Alternative Dispute Resolution: Nebraska court may require some form of alternative dispute resolution like mediation before proceeding further if the spouses cannot reach agreements on one or several disputes but want to proceed with an uncontested process of divorce. Around three-quarters of divorcing spouses in Nebraska reach a mutual agreement at this stage.


Final Hearing or Trial: In case of an uncontested procedure for divorce, you will have a simple final hearing to answer a few questions and have the orders issued. If no agreement is possible despite alternative resolution attempts, the divorce case goes to trial on any unsettled matters. A judge hears arguments and evidence from both parties before rendering a binding legal judgment on the request for marriage dissolution.


Final Divorce Decree: Once all matters are determined by voluntary agreement or trial ruling, the judge formally enters a divorce decree judgment that outlines the terms dissolving the marriage and finalizes your Nebraska divorce process. The decree addresses finances, child custody, if applicable, and other arrangements like visitation rights.


Post-Decree Actions: After the divorce decree is issued, there may still be follow-up legal actions like filing additional motions seeking to modify spousal support or child visitations if circumstances substantially change for either former spouse later on. However, the court judgment legally enforces the divorce.

Mutual Divorce Process in Nebraska

Unlike in some other states, the mutual divorce process in Nebraska is not applicable.

A “mutual divorce” refers to a scenario when both spouses agree that ending the marriage is the right move and opt to file jointly. However, under Nebraska Statutes Chapter 42, outlining the basics of the divorce process in Nebraska, couples are unable to file a joint petition for marriage dissolution. Only a unilateral no-fault process is permitted, even in amicable splits.

To simplify the divorce process in Nebraska, a couple should do their best to have an uncontested case, which can also result in an online divorce process. For example, the responding party may not legally contest the termination, allowing the process of divorce to conclude faster. Spouses in agreement may also engage in formal mediation or informal settlement discussions more constructively to facilitate and speed up the Nebraska divorce process.

So, what is the process of divorce when both parties agree to it? If marriage dissolution is on mutual terms, the spouses can opt to make the proceedings less adversarial and the procedure for divorce much simpler, faster, and cheaper. The overall goal would be submitting a commonly desired complaint and divorce decree for the judge rather than battling over financial and custody disputes at trial. In this case, the couple skips several divorce steps that are common in non-amicable cases. They may even opt for an online divorce process.


The standard legal Nebraska divorce process involves filing initial paperwork, serving your spouse, negotiating terms, attempting alternative dispute resolution, exchanging disclosures, litigation if no agreement is reached, and getting a judge’s final decree.

To start the divorce process in Nebraska, you or your spouse must establish residency requirements, complete initial petition paperwork with grounds for divorce, file it with the court in your county of residence, pay fees, and arrange to legally serve divorce papers to your spouse.