How to Modify Child Custody in Nebraska

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Sometimes it becomes necessary to change or modify a court-ordered child custody agreement. Though every case is different, you can modify a Nebraska child custody order only by having the court approve your request. You and your spouse can come to informal agreements, but only a court-approved modification is enforceable by law. Child custody laws are often complicated, and you should always seek legal advice before attempting any modification on your own.

Research Nebraska law. The court can only modify a child custody order if specific circumstances are present. You must be able to show a "material change in circumstances" that justifies the court changing its previous order. What constitutes a material change varies, but typically involves changes in occupation, health concerns or remarriage.

Review the custody order. When the court makes a custody order, it can include terms that allow you and your spouse to coordinate on minor changes. If the court order allows you and your spouse to change the custody terms without having to go to court, you can do so if you negotiate a suitable agreement.

Negotiate new custody terms with your ex-spouse. The easiest way to ensure you get the custody change you want is to make sure your spouse agrees to it first. Talk to your spouse, or her attorney, if there is a chance she'll agree to the requested modification.

Contact the court clerk. You must get the court's permission to modify the child custody order even if both you and your spouse agree to the change. Call the civil court clerk of the Nebraska court that originally made the child custody order and ask what you need to file. Also ask about any required filing fee.

Write and file the modification motion and file it with the court. Contact the court clerk and ask what the motion looks like or if there are pre-made forms you can use. You must bring at least three copies with you: one for the court, one for you and one for your ex-spouse.

Serve the motion. You must ensure your ex-spouse receives an official copy of the motion before the court will hear your request. Ask the clerk how you can do this by requesting the sheriff's department serve the motion on your ex-spouse. If the sheriff's office is not available to you, you can hire a private process server, but you cannot serve the motion on your ex-spouse yourself.

Ask the court to modify custody. The court clerk assigns your case a hearing date when you file the motion. You must attend the hearing and present your evidence before the judge before the court can grant your motion.


  • Hire an attorney. Child support modifications are heavily dependent on both statutes and case law. Only an experienced family law attorney will have the base of knowledge and expertise to advise you on the merits of your case and tell you what you should do (see Resources).


About the Author

Roger Thorne is an attorney who began freelance writing in 2003. He has written for publications ranging from "MotorHome" magazine to "Cruising World." Thorne specializes in writing for law firms, Web sites, and professionals. He has a Juris Doctor from the University of Kansas.

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