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Divorce and Legal Separation

The Purpose of this Overview

This overview will help you understand what is involved so you are prepared to begin the process of your divorce with the help of For The People as a Document Preparation Service.

The Role of For The People In Your Divorce

One of the difficult moments is over; you have decided to get a divorce. There may be more difficult times ahead but this part doesn't have to be one of them. You have chosen the service of For The People to prepare all of your divorce documents and this overview and the tools we provide you can make your responsibility of providing us the information we need to complete your forms easier. We are providing high quality, affordable legal document preparation to consumers who choose to represent themselves in uncontested legal matters.

We collect your information in the store and then we submit it to our processing center where our experienced team of legal document preparers will complete all of your forms. Our role is to provide you with all of the necessary documents to navigate your case through the divorce process and in order to do this we need you to supply us with the information requested. We can only get the job done if you have given us the information we need.

What For The People Will Need From You, The Customer

Your responsibility will be to complete the questionnaires or "workbooks" provided to you so that For The People has the necessary information to complete this process for you. We use these easy to complete workbooks to gather the information we need to prepare your documents in the appropriate court format. These workbooks will walk you through providing us the decisions you have made about whatever applies to your particular situation, including:

  • The division of assets and debts acquired throughout the marriage;
  • Custody and visitation of minor children;
  • Child support; and
  • Whether there will be spousal support, and if so, how much and for how long.

Utilize any checklist or step by step guide offered by your For The People representative so that you will remain organized and informed as to the divorce procedure and what is required of you and when in your particular case. Your divorce WILL NOT be finalized until we have collected all completed and legible workbooks, all forms have been signed, served, and filed with the court, and a hearing has been scheduled and attended.

Are Court Filing Fees Included in For The People's Services?

The filing fees are not included in the For The People fee and are the responsibility of the individual. You should check with your local county courthouse for the exact amount. You will have to pay these amounts in cash or by money order at the time that you file your Complaint.

What Other Fees Will I Be Responsible for After Using For The People's Service?

In addition to court filing fees, some counties have a parenting class that must be attended if the parties have minor children. Your local county courthouse can provide you with information as to whether this is a requirement where you are filing as well as the fee and class schedule. If your spouse is personally served with the divorce paperwork by a law enforcement agent or process server, you will be responsible for that fee as well.

If I have to Go to a Court Hearing, Does Someone from For The People or the Supervising Attorney Go With Me?

No, we are not attorneys and cannot represent you in court. The Supervising Attorney is available by phone to answer general legal questions about the law but cannot give you legal advice or represent you in court.

Uncontested Divorce

Some people think that an uncontested divorce is simply one in which both parties agree they want to end the marriage. Actually, an uncontested divorce is one in which both parties AGREE that they want to get divorced and both parties AGREE to the terms of settlement. This means all of the issues involved in a divorce, such as who gets custody of any children, whether and how any spousal support will be paid, and what will happen with the family home as well as other marital assets and debts must be agreed to by the parties before you get to court.

The Contested Divorce

Contested divorces don't always require expensive attorneys and legal battle in court, but are very difficult to pursue on your own without the assistance of counsel. If the other side is represented by an attorney, you should also seek the assistance of counsel. If you cannot agree with your spouse on any of your issues your divorce is "contested". This means that you will be asking the Court to decide one or more of your issues and you will have to argue your case in Court. If you are not trained as an attorney, this will be difficult for you.

If you are facing the possibility of a contested divorce you may want to consider mediation. A mediator can help you resolve your issues and arrive at an agreement. Once you arrive at an agreement For The People can provide you with the appropriate workbooks to prepare your divorce forms.

Nebraska Divorce Requirements The Possible Paths Your Divorce May Take

The Plaintiff is the person responsible to see to it that all the formalities required by Nebraska law are observed in the course of obtaining your divorce. The Plaintiff is usually you. The Defendant, (typically your spouse) usually needs to do very little, if he or she is eager to cooperate. The Defendant can cooperate by signing a few papers that we will prepare, and (s)he may attend the Default Hearing. You will begin by filing a Co-Petition or Complaint for Dissolution of Marriage and Vital Statistics Certificate of Dissolution of Marriage or Annulment with the Clerk of the Court. The Petition/Complaint sets forth the circumstances of your marriage, states the grounds for divorce, lists your children (if applicable), and details of the property which is to be divided between the parties, and asks the court to grant a divorce. How the case is subsequently handled depends on whether your spouse:

  • fully cooperates and agrees to settle the case by way of agreement; or
  • fails to file a Response to the Petition; or
  • files a Response and contests the issues in the case.

Depending on what your spouse decides to do - there are three (3) ways to resolve the issues in the case:

  • 1. Uncontested Divorce: A case is "uncontested" when the parties work together to settle the issues by way of written agreement. This may be the case the Defendant files a Response and then later decides to settle.
  • 2. Default Divorce: The Defendant in the case (your spouse) fails to timely file a Response to the Complaint for Dissolution of Marriage; in which case the Defendant's "default" is entered by the Clerk of the Court and the matter proceeds without the Defendant's participation.
  • 3. Contested Divorce: A case is "contested" when a Response to the Complaint is filed and the parties are unable to agree on the issues. The court must resolve them for the parties at trial. You would not use our service for a "contested divorce." If your divorce will be contested you need to consult with and be represented by an attorney.

Nebraska Residency Requirements

In Nebraska at least one of the parties has to have had actual residence in this state for at least one year prior to the filing of divorce with a bona fide intention of making this state his or her permanent home. The one exception is where the parties have been married less than one year but have lived in Nebraska for the entire marriage.

After you have filed, you can move anywhere in the state. You do not have to remain at the same address to fulfill your residency requirement. You can move anywhere within the state in which you are filing. You should be prepared to prove where you lived during the separation in the final hearing.

Nebraska has counties that govern in which court your divorce will take place. This is called venue. The divorce must be filed with the District Court where either the Plaintiff or Defendant resides.

Grounds for Divorce in Nebraska

There are three principal players involved in your marriage that will also be involved in your divorce: you, your spouse, and the state. Among other legal considerations, you have to give the state an acceptable reason why you should be allowed to break up. The reason is known as the grounds for your divorce.

Nebraska is a "no fault" state. That means that in order for the court to grant your request for divorce, the court must first find that the marriage is "irretrievably broken." That usually means that the court must make a determination that there is no chance for reconciliation.

However, if your spouse denies under oath that your marriage is irretrievably broken, your case will require a trial before a judge. A divorce that goes to trial requires that you know the rules of evidence and other procedural rules in order that you present your case effectively in court. It is very difficult for a "pro se" party to represent themselves in court.


What's the Difference between a Divorce, a Legal Separation, and an Annulment?

A DIVORCE (also called "dissolution of marriage") ends your marriage. After you get divorced, you will be single, and you can marry or become a domestic partner again. If you get divorced, you can ask the Judge for orders like child support, spousal support, custody and visitation, domestic violence restraining orders, division of property, and other orders, but in order for your divorce to be "uncontested" the parties should decide these issues between themselves as explained above.

A LEGAL SEPARATION does not end a marriage. You can't marry or enter into a partnership with someone else if you are legally separated (and not divorced). A legal separation is for couples that do not want to get divorced but want to live apart and decide on money, property, and parenting issues. Couples sometimes prefer separation for religious reasons. An annulment (or "nullity of marriage") is when a Court says your marriage is NOT legally valid. For example, a marriage that is incestuous or bigamous is never legally valid. Other marriages that can be declared "void" in Nebraska are:

  • when either party, at the time of marriage, is less than seventeen (17) years of age; and
  • when either party, at the time of marriage, is mentally incompetent to enter into the marriage relation.

Annulments are very rare. If you ask to have your marriage annulled, you will have to go to a hearing before a judge. It is very difficult to secure an Annulment by representing yourself, because you will have to appear at a hearing, understand the rules of evidence, and plead your case. Annulments are almost always handled by counsel.

How Long Will it Take for Me to be Divorced in Nebraska?

After you serve the divorce papers upon your spouse (s)he has 30 days to respond to your request for divorce (known as the Complaint). If your spouse fails to respond, the court will proceed with the divorce so long as service of process has been completed correctly.

There is a 60 day minimum mandatory waiting period from the date of service before you can have a hearing. The date of service is either the day the Voluntary Appearance is filed with the Court or day the your spouse is served by the Sheriff.

The Decree of Divorce will become final for purposes of appeal, 30 days after it is signed. For purposes of continued health insurance and remarriage, the Decree is not final for six months after the signed Decree was filed with the Clerk of the Court.

What if We've Already Divided Our Marital Property?

It is still marital property and it stays that way until it is formally divided by the Court, or by a Marital Separation Agreement, that has been incorporated into the Final Divorce Decree. Even if it has already been divided by agreement of the parties and physically transferred, both parties own it as tenants in common until changed by Court order. This is also true of marital debts.

What if We Reconcile?

Reconciliation is a state of mind that goes beyond dating or occasionally resuming marital relations. But, what do you do about the divorce if you are certain you no longer want a divorce? If no Answer has been filed and no Judgment has been obtained, the case can be dismissed.

When Can I Remarry?

You cannot remarry until six (6) months have passed after the Decree for Divorce was filed with the Clerk of Court.

Divorcing Aliens

Resident aliens who are divorced after less than two years of marriage are in danger of losing their resident status and they and their dependent children may be in danger of deportation. There will, however, be no prejudice to status if the divorce was caused by child or spousal abuse. If a party has been granted a green card recently, you should consult with an immigration attorney.

What If I Want to File for Bankruptcy?

If one spouse is considering bankruptcy with large amounts of marital debt, the other spouse will be affected. Therefore, your spouse should be notified and given the opportunity to join in the bankruptcy Complaint, prior to the filing for divorce.

What is the Date of Separation and What Does "Separation" Mean?

The date you and/or your spouse decided you didn't want to be husband and wife. You should not live in the same house, under the same roof, during the period of separation.

What Debts Am I Responsible for Now?

Income, accumulations and debts of either spouse that are acquired after the date of separation are their own separate property, whether or not a divorce action has been filed. You are responsible for all marital debts incurred by either spouse between the marriage and separation. Debts from before marriage or after separation are separate property (and the responsibility) of whoever incurred them.

Even after separation, you can be responsible for accounts that are in both of your names (or in the name of either spouse) with merchants who are accustomed to dealing with you as a couple and have not been notified that you are separated and want your name removed from the account. You should notify creditors in writing that you have separated as a couple.

You will always be liable for any debt for which you were originally liable when it was incurred. If your spouse is ordered by the Court to pay a specific debt and your spouse fails to pay it, the creditor can come after you or repossess the property.

What Happens to Retirement Funds and 401(k) Plans in a Divorce?

In all divorce actions, it is suggested that you settle the issue of retirement benefits. The Complaint, marital settlement and judgment should all provide either for the spouse's waiver of retirement benefits or the division of any such benefits. If a retirement account is to be divided, a QDRO (Qualified Domestic Relations order) will be required to transfer a share of the retirement funds from the spouse with the pension plan to the other spouse.

How the Divorce Process Works in the State of Nebraska

Step 1: Choose the Proper Court

You will begin by answering a series of questions to make sure that the State of Nebraska has "jurisdiction" over the parties and issues in your case, and that your case is filed in the proper county. A Nebraska divorce is normally filed in the District Court in the county where you reside.

Step 2: File the Complaint with the District Court

After your initial papers (Complaint for Dissolution of Marriage, Summons, etc.) have been prepared and signed, you will file them with the court clerk. You will have to pay a filing fee. The exact fee varies from county to county. Contact your local court for information on filing fees. The court clerk will issue a Summons which you attach to a copy of the Complaint that has been stamped by the court clerk.

Step 3: Service of Summons

The Summons, once received from the Court, along with one copy of the Complaint (collectively called the "divorce papers"), must be served upon your spouse. Service may be achieved in one of the following ways:

  • Voluntary Appearance: If you and your spouse are on good terms and wish to avoid service by Sheriff, your spouse may sign a Voluntary Appearance that you will then file with the court.
  • Service by Sheriff in County: You may file a Praecipe for Summons with the court and have the sheriff in the county where your spouse lives your spouse. If your spouse is living or working in the county where the Complaint for Dissolution is filed, the sheriff will pick up the summons and Complaint for Dissolution and serve it upon your spouse at the address given on the Praecipe.
  • Service by Sheriff Out of County or State: If your spouse lives in another county, or in another state, you are expected to return to the Clerk of the Court and pick up the summons and Complaint for Dissolution and send it to the sheriff in the county where your spouse is to be served. Generally, the Clerk of the Court will provide you with the name and address of the sheriff's department in that county. You will need to call that sheriff's department to discuss with it the payment of the cost of the service, as most expect payment in advance. Once the sheriff serves your spouse, or determines that your spouse cannot be served, the sheriff will return the documents to you with what is known as a return of service. This return of service will indicate whether or not your spouse has been served. You must then file that paperwork with the Clerk of the Court so that the court has a record of whether or not your spouse was served.
  • Private Process Service: A private process server will deliver the divorce papers to your spouse, complete and file an Affidavit of Service for a fee. If you wish to use this method, contact a representative at your For The People office for information about private process servers in your county.
  • Alternate Method of Service: In the event that the sheriff cannot personally serve your spouse, the law allows you to serve your spouse by using one of two alternate methods. This can be done only with permission of the court by filing a Motion for Alternate Service and obtaining an order of the court allowing you to use one of the following alternate methods of service:

    1. You can serve your spouse by having the sheriff leave the summons at the last known residence of your spouse along with you sending a copy by first class mail, or

    2. by publishing a notice of the divorce in a newspaper of general circulation, commonly called service by publication.

    Before you can file a Motion for Alternate Service you must make every reasonable effort to determine where your spouse is residing or working and show that any previous efforts to have your spouse personally served have failed. Both options for alternate service require additional fees and may limit what the court can order beyond merely granting your request for dissolution of marriage.

Step 4: File a Response

Your spouse has 30 days from the date of service to file a Response and has three options:

  • File a Response agreeing to the terms contained within the Complaint for Dissolution of Marriage; or
  • File a Response denying some or all of the claims contained within the Complaint for Dissolution of Marriage; or
  • Default by not filing a Response.

NOTE: If your spouse files a Response denying any of the claims set forth in the Complain for Dissolution of Marriage, your divorce becomes "contested" and YOU SHOULD CONSULT WITH AN ATTORNEY.

Step 5: Prepare and Submit a Motion and Affidavit for Order of Default Judgment and Schedule Hearing

No less than sixty (60) days after your spouse was served (and providing that your spouse has not filed a Response), you may submit a Motion and Affidavit for Order of Default Judgment with the Clerk of the Court and schedule your final hearing. Once your default hearing has been scheduled, you must serve your spouse with a Notice of Hearing providing them with the date, time and location of the hearing. However, once the court has allowed your case to move forward by default, it will enter its orders without any further participation from your spouse, the Defendant. In cases with children, there are other documents that must be submitted such as the Parenting Plan and Affidavit Re: ...Financial Statement.

Step 6: Decree for Dissolution of Marriage

The end result and the final goal of your divorce action is to obtain a Decree for Dissolution of Marriage from the court. The Decree dissolves the marriage and is a court order which resolves the issues between the parties such as child custody and visitation, child support, spousal support, property division, debt division, and the payment of attorney fees and costs.

How is Custody of Our Children Worked Out?

The easiest solution is if you both decide on the custody of minor children. Custody is divided into physical custody (determining where the children will live) and legal custody (determining who will make important decisions regarding the children's health, education, etc.). Both physical and legal custody can be either joint or sole. Even if one parent has sole physical custody, the other parent will typically have visitation rights if requested. You will provide For The People with the decisions you have made about custody and visitation on our questionnaire or "workbook" we provided you and we will use this information to create the forms the court requires.

How Does the Court Determine Child Support?

Nebraska has established child support guidelines for use in determining all child support obligations. Child support shall be established in accordance with such guidelines are presumed to be in the best interests of the child. The guidelines will be used unless the court finds that one or both parties have produced sufficient evidence to rebut the presumption that the application of the guidelines will result in a fair and equitable child support order.

Generally, child support payments are for the ordinary expenses of food, shelter, clothing, education and medication needs for the children only. In determining an award of child support, a court will look at all relevant facts upon the following issues:

  • The Needs of the Children: For example, a sickly or developmentally disabled child will often require a higher level of support than a healthy child.
  • The Age of the Children: Infants and younger children often cost less to support than older children.
  • The Ability of the Non-Custodial Parent to Pay: The court is limited in awarding child support by the ability of a parent to pay based on income from all sources, often including a new spouse's earnings.
  • The Earning Capacity of the Custodial Parent: Both parents have the duty to support their children, not just the paying parent. The earnings of the custodial parent (and perhaps that of their new spouse) available to provide support for the children will also be considered when determining child support levels.

I Pay Child Support for Children from a Previous Marriage. How will this Affect What I'll Have to Pay as a Result of My Current Divorce?

Nebraska allows you to deduct the amount of child support previously ordered for other children from your gross income figure, which is used to determine how much support you should pay. This acts as sort of a credit. If you are asked to complete an Affidavit Re: ...Financial Statement, be sure to include this expense.

What Can Happen if a Non-Custodial Parent does not Pay Child Support?

A child support order may be enforced in the following ways:

  • Use of Government's Parent Locater Service: The resources of the federal government, including the Social Security Administration and the Internal Revenue Service, can be used to locate non-paying parents via an employer. Once found, the custodial parent or state can enforce the order and collect unpaid child support. The law also permits the IRS to pay child support arrears from tax refunds the non-paying parent may be owed by the government.
  • Wage Assignment: The court can order an employer to make direct payments to the custodial parent from the wages of the non-paying parent.
  • Request of Writ of Execution: Property can be seized upon proper application to the court.
  • Civil Contempt: Civil contempt is intended to (1) preserve and enforce the rights of private parties to a suit and (2) to compel obedience to orders and decrees primarily made to benefit the parties. A person charged with contempt can resolve the charge by paying the past due child support.
  • Criminal Prosecution
  • Uniform Enforcement of Support Act: This permits a party to complain to the local district attorney about unpaid child support by a parent who lives out of state. The local district attorney can then contact a district attorney in the locale where the non-paying parent lives. That office can then bring an action to enforce the order.
  • Suspension of Automobile License: Driving privileges can be suspended for failure to pay child support. Suspension, non-renewal or denial of a non custodial parent's driver's license is a remedy in Nebraska.

Will I Have to Pay Spousal Support or "Alimony"?

There are two types of alimony in Nebraska:

  • Alimony During the Divorce Process: In any proceeding for the dissolution of marriage, the court has discretion to make and enforce a temporary order and require the husband to pay any sum necessary to enable the wife to maintain the action during its pendency. NOTE: When dissolution of marriage or a legal separation is decreed, the court may decree costs against either party and award execution for the same, or it may direct such costs to be paid out of any property sequestered, or in the power of the court, or in the hands of a receiver.
  • Alimony Upon Final Hearing: Pursuant to Nebraska Statute, when dissolution of a marriage is decreed, the court may order payment of such alimony by one party to the other and division of property as may be reasonable, having regard for the unique circumstances of the parties.

If you signed an agreement about spousal support, the court is likely to approve that agreement. This means that the court may order your agreement as part of your divorce. An agreement between spouses can be broader and more inclusive than what the court might decide if asked to award spousal support on its own. For example, the court may award a periodic monetary payment, whereas by agreement the parties may cover payment of a mortgage or other type of support.

The court will consider a long list of factors in deciding if you or your spouse should get alimony. These factors include: duration of the marriage, a history of the contributions to the marriage by each party, including contributions to the care and education of the children, and interruption of personal careers or educational opportunities, and the ability of the supported party to engage in gainful employment without interfering with the interests of any minor children in the custody of such party. How important each factor is will depend on your case's individual circumstances and judges have very broad discretion.

What if I Can't Find My Spouse?

If your spouse can't be located, you must use a special method of service called Service by Publication. It requires additional forms and the payment of additional Court fees. There is also an additional fee to For The People, as you will need to complete an extra workbook, detailing your efforts to locate your spouse. There is also a fee to the newspaper to publish the notice of the summons. You must be able to prove to the court that you have exhausted all other means to locate and serve your spouse.

What You Have to Decide

This section will give you some more detail about the decisions you and your spouse have to make.

  • Assets: How will you divide the marital property (the property you acquired while you were married)? For example: the family home, cash, checking and savings accounts, brokerage accounts, security deposits, retirement (IRA's, 401(k)s), cars, household items (furniture, appliances, etc), books, pictures, artwork, tools, and equipment.
  • Debts: How will you divide all the joint debt acquired while you were married? For example: Credit cards, car loans or leases, mortgage or home equity loans, tax obligations, business or personal loans and medical and dental bills.
  • Minor Children: How will you and your spouse share the care and financial responsibilities of the children?
  • Custody: What custody arrangements work best for your family? Who will have legal custody and make the major decisions for the children regarding health and education (one of you/both of you)? Will one party have primary physical custody and have the child reside with them the majority of the time, or will this be shared?
  • Visitation: When children visit with the other parent, how and when will that exchange take place? Will there be "reasonable visitation" with an informal arrangement that the parties work out as they go or will there be a structured visitation plan?
  • Child Support: Who will pay child support, how much and when? Every state has adopted child support guidelines. Some states use tables that indicate a support amount for different ranges of income, similar to tax tables. Some states base the amount of support on the income of the person who will be paying (typically the parent without the child the majority of time) or sometimes the parent with the greater income. This computer generated number typically is based upon the income of one or both parties, expenses for the child such as health care and daycare and the amount of time spent with each parent. Parties are sometimes free to agree on an amount that may deviate from the guideline amount of the state but in certain states additional paperwork stating the reason for the deviation is necessary and it would still be up to the discretion of the court. The court is concerned with the child's best interest and that is what is reflected in the guidelines. The court wants to make sure that the child is adequately provided for.
  • Health Insurance: Your divorce agreement should indicate how your children will remain covered by you or your spouse for medical and dental insurance. The court will want to see that the children will not lose medical coverage as a result of the divorce. For children that may be qualified for medical coverage at the state or federal level, the court will want to know which parent will assume the responsibility of facilitating that.
  • Spousal Support: Will one spouse pay spousal support (or alimony) to the other, and if so, how much and for how long? Generally, spousal support is awarded to either spouse in an effort to maintain the standard of living that both parties were accustomed to during the marriage. Sometimes referred to as "maintenance", it is designed to help the lower-earning spouse get back on his or her feet. Sometimes this arrangement consists of payments on a weekly, bimonthly or monthly basis and other times it is a lump sum payment that is better. This provides the recipient with a nest egg to move forward. How much you are entitled to depends on a variety of factors and below are some examples:
    1. Immediate financial needs
    2. Future financial needs and your ability to generate an income
    3. Education, health and job experience
    4. How long you were married and how you contributed to your marriage (having been a stay at home parent or supporter of a spous's pursuit of a career)

    Unlike child support, there is no guarantee that spousal support will be granted and furthermore, there are no strict guidelines for granting spousal support. Your specific state may offer some guidelines to generate an amount but it is in the hands of you and your spouse to determine or up to a judge's discretion to determine how much is fair and necessary.


  • For The People are not attorneys and cannot offer legal advice.
  • Stay in contact with For The People regarding address and or phone number change.
  • If you receive anything from your spouse or an attorney for your spouse regarding the divorce, make sure to provide For The People a copy of whatever you receive.
  • Every judge and court is different, we cannot offer any guarantees of whether you will or won't have to attend a hearing, or exactly how long the divorce process will take.

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