If you have separated from your spouse or partner and there are children involved, you are no doubt concerned about protecting your parenting time during your separation, whether or not it leads to divorce. Here are some guidelines to ensure you have equal access to your children (unless there are mitigating factors like domestic abuse or other crimes):
Talk with a family law attorney. To enforce your rights, you have to first know what those rights are. If the child was conceived out of wedlock, you must establish paternity. If your child was born or adopted within a marriage, your attorney can fully inform you of your parental rights.
Get a court order. Nebraska family courts follow guidelines that keep the best interests of the child at the center of legal decisions, and the courts typically believe that children do best when both parents are involved in their lives. Following a separation, the courts can grant temporary custody and parenting time orders that will be in place until a divorce is final. If one parent is being unreasonable and denying the other parent sufficient time with their children, a judge will issue a court order mandating parenting time for the other parent.
Ask for what is reasonable. If you are asking the court for joint physical custody — where the child will spend half their time with you and the other half with their other parent — you need to be sure you will be with your child during your parenting time. If you work long hours outside your home, the court may not view joint physical custody as being in the best interests of your child. If that is the case, you need to be sure to put a parenting plan in place that details when you will be spending time with your child. You should also seek joint legal custody so you still have a say in decisions involving your child’s educational and health needs.
Consider mediation. It is usually better for all concerned if a parenting plan can be worked out outside a courtroom. This is where mediation can help. You and your child’s other parent will meet with a qualified mediator who works with you to establish a good parenting plan. The mediator may be an attorney, but does not represent either one of you. Rather, they are there to guide you toward a resolution that complies with the law as it applies to custody and parenting time.
Your legal team at Koenig|Dunne is here to provide you with guidance and advice regarding parenting time and all of the issues that you will face throughout the divorce process.