When divorce isn't an option because of financial, religious, legal or other personal reasons and there's a breakdown in your marriage, in Nebraska you can live apart from your spouse and informally agree on responsibilities to each other.
In other words, informally separating is an amicable way to divvy up debts, share assets, establish child custody and agree on alimony without lawyers and court proceedings. Nothing is written in stone or legally binding for either party.
But in a legal separation those same decisions are legally binding and enforceable in court, which is important in the event the relationship with your spouse further deteriorates or if you're unable to reconcile and decide to divorce.
File a Complaint for Legal Separation in a district court of Nebraska.
The complaint must include the name and address of the spouses; date and place of marriage; arrangements concerning children, property and debt division; what filing parties want or don't want from each other; a statement requesting legal separation; and a statement indicating parties may later set aside the decree. For more specific information concerning complaint requirements read the Nebraska Revised Statutes.
Have notice served to your spouse that a legal separation is filed in court.
In Nebraska, a sheriff or legally authorized person must give your complaint to your spouse. The court won't decree a legal separation unless your spouse is formally informed of your intent to separate. If your spouse proves unable to be served, ask the court for permission to serve your spouse by alternative methods such as publication in a local newspaper or by sending notice through the mail.
Read your spouse's Answer to the Complaint.
Your spouse has the right within 30 days of receipt of notice to tell his or her side of the story in a written Answer to the Complaint. Your spouse can either agree or disagree with you. Points within the Complaint not agreed upon are later decided by a judge at trial. If your spouse doesn't file an Answer within 30 days, you're granted everything you requested as long as a judge believes your requests are fair.
Develop a parenting plan to comply with the Nebraska Parenting Act if children are involved.
A parenting plan is a judge-approved court document drafted by divorcing or separating parents outlining parenting responsibilities to the children affected by the divorce, including physical custody and visitation.
Appear at a hearing or trial for the judge's ruling.
If your spouse agrees with your side of the story or didn't answer, a judge enters a decree of separation at hearing. If your spouse disagreed with parts of your complaint and you can't reach an amicable agreement, at trial and after hearing both sides of the story, the judge does it for you, including decisions about children, support and division of debts and property.
- This article is not meant to replace legal advice of a qualified attorney.
- Just married image by Monika Olszewska from Fotolia.com