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Rule 10-17. Domestic Relations Cases

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   A. FILINGS:

   1. Every party in a dissolution case involving minor children shall file a complaint containing all matters required by statute and court rule. The complaint must contain the name and address of the plaintiff and his or her attorney, except that a plaintiff living at an undisclosed location for safety concerns is only required to disclose the county and state of his or her residence and provide an alternative address for the mailing of notice.

   2. Unless a plaintiff has requested to proceed in forma pauperis, the statutory filing fee must accompany the complaint.

   3. A properly completed Department of Health Bureau of Vital Statistics form shall be filed in each dissolution of marriage or annulment action, and no decree will be entered unless the form is completed in full.

   4. Each complaint must be accompanied when filed with a fully completed Confidential Party Information Form, including Social Security numbers, a statement of gender, and birthdays.

   5. If the parties have developed a parenting plan, the complaint shall so plead. Alternatively, if there are issues of custody, parenting time, or other matters that are not contested, those items should be pled as well.

   6. All complaints for dissolution of marriage involving children must be accompanied by an affidavit from plaintiff’s counsel stating that counsel has provided the plaintiff the Nebraska Parenting Act Information Brochure and has had a copy of the brochure served with summons upon the defendant or has provided a copy of the brochure to a pro se defendant who has submitted a voluntary appearance. For all other defendants, counsel for plaintiff shall serve a copy of the Nebraska Parenting Act Information Brochure with summons with verification of service contained in the return.

   7. The court, on its own motion, and after hearing, may strike and dismiss at plaintiff’s costs, any complaint for dissolution where there is a failure to comply with any of the rules set forth above.

   B. PROPERTY DIVISION AND PROPERTY STATEMENTS:

   1. When the action involves the division of property by the court or by property settlement, both parties shall file a property statement. The only form accepted shall be the form attached to these rules. See Appendix #1.

   2. To avoid problems in identification of specific property, the party filing the action shall have 60 days from the date of filing of the complaint to prepare and file a property statement, furnishing a copy to the defendant, if pro se, or to defendant’s attorney of record.

   3. The defendant must then complete the property statement by adding any additional property and inserting estimates of value. The defendant’s completed property statement must be filed within 30 days after the plaintiff’s property statement, and a copy furnished to plaintiff, if pro se, or to the plaintiff’s attorney of record. Either party may receive an extension of time for filing or completing a property statement upon written motion and good cause shown.

   4. Failure to timely file a property statement by the plaintiff in accordance with these rules may result in the court’s dismissing the action after notice by the court. Failure of the defendant to timely file a property statement in accordance with these rules may result in the court’s accepting the plaintiff’s property statement and prevent the defendant from disputing the plaintiff’s property statement after notice by the court. Final hearing or a pretrial conference will not be scheduled until one completed property statement is on file.

   5. When property division is contested at final hearing, the parties shall prepare a combined property statement for use as an exhibit. Under no circumstances will the court allow more than one property statement to be used, except for purposes of impeachment.

   6. Amendments to property statements or values thereon shall not be used unless filed at least 10 days before trial, except by agreement of the parties or special permission of the court. Parties will, however, be permitted to correct amounts for bank accounts and debts at the time of trial.

   C. TEMPORARY HEARING:

   1. In all cases where a party seeks a temporary order relating to custody, parenting time, visitation, or other access, that party shall file and offer a Temporary Child Information Affidavit verified to the extent known or reasonably discoverable by the filing party or parties. Parties responding to such affidavits shall ensure that their affidavits conform to the same format. No temporary orders for custody or parenting time will be considered unless such an affidavit is completed and provided to the court.

   2. Affidavits offered at the temporary hearing must be typed and comport with Rule 10-4(B). Affidavits offered by pro se parties must comport with Rule 10-4(A).

   3. The court may require either party to exercise the option to obtain health insurance available through an employer or other organization which may extend coverage to children affected by the decree. Availability of insurance shall be disclosed in the parties’ affidavits. In the absence of disclosure, the court may presume that full coverage is available through the nondisclosing party. Each party has a continuing duty to disclose available insurance.

   4. All applications for temporary allowances (child support/ alimony) shall include a fully completed Financial Affidavit for Child Support and a proposed child support calculation using worksheet 1 of the Nebraska Child Support Guidelines and such other worksheets as the parties’ circumstances may require. Parties responding to such affidavits shall follow the same format. All child support calculations shall be accompanied by the tax returns, current wage stubs, and other information concerning the resources of the parties as required by the Nebraska Child Support Guidelines.

   5. All Temporary Child Information Affidavits, financial affidavits for child support, and other affidavits offered in support of custody, child support, parenting time, and alimony shall not be filed in the main court file but shall be offered at the temporary hearing and retained by the court reporter. No affidavits will be e-filed. It is the obligation of attorneys submitting affidavits to redact from the affidavits all irrelevant material and hearsay prior to them being offered.

   6. All applications for temporary orders shall be heard solely upon affidavits, proposed calculations of child support obligations under the Nebraska Child Support Guidelines, and the arguments of counsel, except ex parte hearings as provided by statute. Initial affidavits shall NOT be considered unless they are served upon the opposing party during the business day, 2 business days before the hearing (i.e., for a temporary hearing on Monday, the affidavits need to be served during the business day on Thursday). If responsive affidavits are required, they shall be received by the court within 3 business days after the hearing. Absent prior approval by the court and notwithstanding the Temporary Child Information Affidavit, no more than 20 affidavit pages, exclusive of exhibits, will be considered by the court. Temporary orders shall include all matters required by Neb. Rev. Stat. § 43-2930(2).

   D. EX PARTE CUSTODY ORDER:

   No ex parte order shall be entered in a domestic relations case without one or more supporting affidavits from a party or his or her witnesses. Except for good cause shown, no ex parte temporary order shall be entered in a pending case if the opposing party is represented by counsel or a guardian ad litem has been appointed. If an ex parte order is issued, it shall be served upon the opposing party or counsel forthwith, and a temporary hearing shall be held forthwith. Ex parte orders for temporary custody of children require a showing of a substantial risk of harm to the child(ren).

   E. CONTESTED CUSTODY/GUARDIAN AD LITEM:

   If an issue of custody of minor children is present, the court may appoint a guardian ad litem for the minor child(ren) involved. The court will order an initial deposit for fees to be paid by the parties into court. Initial fees shall be allocated between the parties in the discretion of the court, subject to modification and the assessment of additional fees at the time of final hearing. Those claiming indigence may apply to the court with accompanying affidavit for waiver of such fee assessment.

   F. NOTICE:

   In all cases, except where service was obtained by publication and no answer has been filed, notice of final hearing is required to both parties.

   G. VOLUNTARY APPEARANCE:

   1. A voluntary appearance must be notarized.

   2. The voluntary appearance must contain an address to which any notices may be mailed to the defendant and the telephone number where the defendant may be reached. To comply with the statutes, it shall also contain a receipt for a copy of the complaint and Nebraska Parenting Act Information Brochure. If no receipt is included, the clerk of the district court shall mail a copy of the brochure to the defendant.

   H. RESTRAINING ORDERS:

   Temporary restraining orders shall be limited to the three items enumerated in Neb. Rev. Stat. § 42-357.

   I. PARENTING EDUCATION COURSES:

   1. Parties to a domestic relations proceeding involving children are required to attend a parenting education program approved by the Administrative Office of the Courts. Attendance at the program by both parties shall be completed within 60 days from the service of process. This requirement includes filings for dissolution of marriage and determination of paternity cases which involve issues of custody, parenting time, visitation, or other access with the child. Participation in a course may be delayed or waived by the court for good cause shown.

   2. Failure or refusal by any party to participate in the required course shall not delay the entry of a final judgment or order modifying a final judgment in such action by more than 6 months and shall in no case be punished by incarceration.

   3. Each party shall be responsible for his or her own costs in attending a parenting education course.

   4. At the request of either party, or based upon screening or recommendation of an attorney or mediator, the parties shall be allowed to attend separate courses or to attend the same course at different times, particularly if child abuse or neglect, domestic intimate partner abuse, or unresolved parental conflict is or has in the past been present in the relationship, or if one party has threatened the other.

   J. MEDIATION:

   1. Except as otherwise provided in Neb. Rev. Stat. § 43-2937(4), when the parties are unable to negotiate a parenting plan which satisfies the requirements of the Nebraska Parenting Act, then the parties are required to meet and confer with a mediator or facilitator to complete the parenting plan and to resolve all issues of child custody, parenting time, visitation, grandparent visitation, other access, or any other issues relating to the children that might be susceptible to mediation or the specialized alternative dispute resolution process.

   2. Prior to commencing an initial mediation session, the mediator shall provide an initial, individual screening session with each party to assess the presence of child abuse or neglect, unresolved parental conflict, domestic intimate partner abuse, or other forms of intimidation or coercion, or a parties’ inability to negotiate freely and make informed decisions. If any of these conditions exists, the mediator shall direct the parties to a specialized alternative dispute resolution facilitator to address the mediator’s concerns.

   3. When there are allegations of domestic intimate partner abuse or unresolved parental conflict between the parties in any proceeding, or when screening by a mediator or mediation center identifies the presence of child abuse or neglect, unresolved parental conflict, domestic intimate partner abuse, other forms of intimidation or coercion, or the parties’ inability to negotiate and make informed decisions, then the mediation shall not be required; however, the parents shall then be required to meet with a facilitator to initiate a specialized dispute resolution process.

   4. The specialized alternative dispute resolution process will begin with each parent meeting individually with the qualified facilitator to provide an opportunity for the facilitator to educate each party about the process, obtain informed consent from each party in order to proceed, establish safety protocols, allow support persons to attend sessions, and consider a request to opt out for a cause. Any party may terminate after initial individual screening sessions and one specialized alternative dispute resolution session. The primary consideration in each specialized alternative dispute resolution session shall be the safety of each party and each child. The facilitator of the process has a duty to determine whether to proceed in individual sessions or caucus sessions in order to address safety and freedom to negotiate. Joint sessions shall not be used unless, after a safety assessment by the facilitator, all parties agree to a joint session to be conducted at a location where appropriate safety measures can be in place.

   5. No trial date or other dispositive hearing will be scheduled until attendance at the required parent education seminar has been completed and mediation or other specialized alternative dispute resolution process has been attempted to resolve the necessary issues. Failure or refusal of a party to participate shall not delay entry of the final judgment for more than 6 months. Notwithstanding the language in this rule, issues of domestic violence, domestic intimate partner abuse, or child abuse or neglect may, upon consideration by the trial court, disqualify the parties from parent education, mediation, or the specialized alternative dispute resolution process.

   6. To the extent that the matters set forth below are not addressed in the Nebraska Parenting Act notification currently provided by the clerk of the district court to the parties, the clerk of the district court shall provide a statement to the parties that their attendance at an approved parenting education class is mandatory and must be completed within the timeframe specified in this rule. The notice shall also notify the parties and counsel that the parenting plans and issues of child custody, parenting time, visitation, or other access with the child will be referred for mediation or specialized alternative dispute resolution if the parties are unable to arrive an appropriate and agreed upon plan; that no trial or other dispositive hearing will be scheduled until attendance at the required parent education seminar has been completed and mediation or specialized alternative dispute resolution to resolve issues of custody, parenting, visitation, or other access has been attempted; that failure or refusal to participate by a party shall not delay entry of a final judgment for more than 6 months; that issues of domestic violence, domestic intimate partner abuse, or child abuse or neglect may, upon consideration by the trial court, disqualify the parties from parent education, mediation, or the specialized alternative dispute resolution process. This notification shall be included in the initial service packets distributed by the clerk.

   7. The clerk of the district court shall maintain a list of mediators and facilitators approved by the district court judges and the Administrative Office of the Courts. All mediators and facilitators must meet the standards set by the State of Nebraska for training in order to qualify. All participating mediators and facilitators are allowed to determine their own fees and to provide a copy of the fee schedule to the clerk of the district court.

   8. Mediators and facilitators shall participate in training to enable them to recognize child abuse or neglect, domestic intimate partner abuse, and unresolved parental conflict and its potential impact upon children and families. Mediators and facilitators shall also comply with all qualification requirements established by the Administrative Office of the Courts and the statutes of the State of Nebraska.

   9. A judge may refer a case or a portion of a case to mediation or to the specialized alternative dispute resolution process. If such referrals are made by the court, the court will indicate the particular issues that are the subject of the mediation and dispute resolution process.

   10. If the parties reach an agreement through mediation or its specialized alternative dispute resolution process, the agreement shall be reduced to writing. The mediator or the facilitator shall provide copies of the agreement to the parties and their attorneys, together with a notice informing the parties and their attorneys of their right to express their objections to the written agreement. The notice shall inform the parties and their attorneys that they have 14 days from the date of the notice to notify the mediator or facilitator of any objections. Such objection shall be specific but shall not violate the statutory protections of confidentiality or privilege of the parties and the written objection shall be specific and shall not be filed with the clerk of the district court or in any way be communicated in violation with the statutory protections of confidentiality or privilege.

   11. Upon filing of an objection, the mediator or facilitator shall schedule a remediation or refacilitation session on the disputed issues identified in the written objection. The mediator or facilitator may charge additional fees for the remediation or refacilitation session. At such time as the agreement becomes final or the remediation session becomes final, counsel or the mediator or facilitator shall send a final copy of the agreement to the trial judge.

   12. At trial, parties shall not present evidence intended to object to a provision in an approved parenting plan or to show a material change in circumstance subsequent to the filing of the final agreement, unless a written motion asking leave of court to present such evidence at trial, accompanied by a notice of hearing, has been filed with the court and has been heard and granted prior to the trial.

   13. All evidentiary hearings requesting that mediation be waived shall be heard on affidavits only.

   K. FINAL HEARINGS/PRETRIAL CONFERENCES:

   Final hearings in all dissolution cases shall be set by the court for 15 minutes unless the court is notified by either party that 15 minutes is not sufficient. When notified that the trial will be in excess of 1 hour, the matter will be set for a pretrial conference. Parties shall fully comply with the requirements of the court’s pretrial order. In disputed custody cases, no pretrial shall be scheduled until mediation has been attempted.

   L. CHILD SUPPORT AND OTHER FINANCIAL MATTERS:

   All parties seeking an order for child support and/or apportionment of expenses for medical support, including provisions for medical, dental and eye care, medical reimbursement, daycare, and extraordinary expenses of the child shall submit a Final Financial Affidavit For Child Support and a final proposed calculation of the parties’ child support obligations using worksheet 1 of the Nebraska Child Support Guidelines and such other worksheets as the parties’ circumstances may require.

   M. LEAVING THE STATE:

   Every temporary or permanent order awarding child custody shall contain language substantially as follows:

   A party exercising custody of a minor child is ordered not to move the child outside the State of Nebraska. Anyone intending such a move must first:

   1. Make written application to the court, including proposed changes in the visitation schedule and costs of transportation;

   2. Obtain service of the application and give notice of the hearing to the other party; and

   3. Establish that the move is in the child’s best interests.

   N. NOTICE OF MOTIONS OR MODIFICATIONS AND JUDGMENT:

   Employment of attorneys shall be deemed to have terminated after judgment.  Except for motions for new trial, it is not sufficient to serve a party’s attorney for postjudgment proceedings. Complaints for modification of a child support decree or custody decree require the issuance and service of summons as in a new action.

   O. SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBERS AND ACCOUNT NUMBERS:

   Social Security numbers should not be contained in any pleading filed in the court file. No pleading or other document filed with the court and no exhibit used at trial shall contain a complete account number for any financial accounts or debts of any party. The same shall be redacted to the extent necessary to protect the information from misuse. By agreement of the parties, or as directed by the court, such information shall be identified in such a manner so the parties, counsel, and court can distinguish information between similar accounts or debts.

This page was last modified on Friday, November 9, 2012