No action for dissolution of marriage may be brought unless at least one of the parties has had actual residence in Nebraska for at least one year prior to the filing of the Complaint, or unless the marriage occurred in Nebraska and at least one of the parties has resided in this state from the date of the marriage to the date of filing the Complaint for dissolution.
To begin a divorce proceeding or legal separation in the State of Nebraska, a complaint is filed with the Clerk of the District Court in the appropriate county. The complaint contains the names and addresses of the husband and wife and the names, dates of birth and addresses of the children affected by the proceedings. It also sets forth the date and place of the marriage and will necessarily contain certain information concerning the addresses where the children have lived prior to the filing of the action. The complaint will request that the court dissolve the marriage, determine custody, visitation and child support, make a determination of the value of the marital estate and distribute it equitably and, where appropriate, award alimony, attorney fees and court costs. If a wife desires restoration of her maiden name, this should be requested at the time the complaint is filed. The required fee to file a complaint for a divorce is $158.00. The fee required at the time an action for legal separation is filed is $82.00.
After the Complaint is filed, the case cannot proceed unless the other party is either “served” with process by a Sheriff, enters their appearance voluntarily by signing a document called a “Voluntary Appearance” or retains an attorney to enter an appearance on their behalf. A Voluntary Appearance is commonly used in order to prevent the embarrassment of serving a spouse at home or at work and it will save some money. By signing a Voluntary Appearance, the only thing the party is agreeing to is to waive personal service of process on their person and agree to be bound by the jurisdiction of the court where the Complaint for Dissolution of Marriage was filed. All other matters may be contested.
In many cases, it is necessary that the Court enter an order (either by agreement of the parties or following presentation on affidavit evidence) concerning custody, visitation, child support, payment of employment-related daycare expenses, payment of alimony, attorney fees or other matters. These hearings are typically held in the judge’s chambers and require that we have as much accurate information from you as possible to present an accurate picture to the judge concerning your position on custody and economic matters. Additionally, this is the time to address issues concerning improper transfers of property, domestic abuse or significant visitation disputes. At our initial meetings, you will be given certain worksheets to complete and it is important that you give us as much information as possible so that we can prepare for these hearings and obtain the best result possible for you. If a spouse will not voluntarily leave the family home, there are procedures for excluding that person from the home. This is particularly important where domestic abuse is involved and we will expect you to bring any such incidents to our attention immediately so that we can discuss them with you and deal with them appropriately.
No dissolution can be granted in the State of Nebraska until at least sixty (60) days have passed following the date of service or the filing of the Voluntary Appearance. This is a minimum interval. It is unusual for the parties and the lawyers involved to agree on all issues prior to expiration of at least sixty days. This does not mean the parties cannot settle all matters (if they are able) prior to expiration of the sixty days. It just means that the court cannot approve their settlement agreements and enter a decree divorcing them until the sixty-day minimum waiting period has been met. Most cases take longer than that to resolve, particularly ones involving minor children.
Most divorce cases will require us to compile detailed and accurate information concerning marital assets and debts, your earning capacity as well as that of your spouse, and various other information pertaining to tax consequences of division of the marital estate, assets which you may have received by inheritance or gift or facts pertinent to determination of custody. Much of this information can be obtained through information you supply to us or our staff. In other instances, we will need to utilize the formal rules of discovery under Nebraska law. This involves procedures such as subpoenas, interrogatories, depositions and requests to produce documents or things. Where appropriate, a business valuation or real estate appraisal may need to be performed. As the need for some of these procedures may arise, we will visit with you about them before they take place. An informal exchange of information saves time and money and we will attempt to use it as much as possible. However, if your spouse is not cooperative, has a tendency to be untruthful or secretive or if your marital estate is quite large, we will need to use formal discovery. It will also be necessary to use formal discovery in those cases involving a custody dispute. As we learn the facts of your case, we will recommend a discovery plan that is suitable for your circumstances. In no instance will we undertake formal discovery without your consent and approval.