Nebraska Law Provides Some Remedies for Grandparents - Grandparent Rights
If you are a grandparent who is not being allowed visits with your grandchildren, or if your grandchildren have been removed from the parent(s) by court order, it’s important to know just what your rights are under Nebraska law. This article will give you some basic knowledge of Nebraska law, but is not a substitute for legal analysis of your situation and advice from a licensed attorney, which you should seek immediately.
When can grandparents in Nebraska seek visitation?
Grandparents can ask the court for an order providing visitation with their grandchildren in certain circumstances.
Under Nebraska grandparent visitation statutes, a grandparent can ask the court to order visitation under the following circumstances:
- The child's parent or parents are deceased
- The child's parents are divorced or there is a divorce action pending, but no decree has been entered; or
- The parents of the minor child have never been married and paternity has been legally established.
Remember, however, that this is for district court visitation actions. If the grandchild is involved in a juvenile court proceeding, the procedure for seeking grandparent visitation is different.
How can grandparents obtain a court order for visitation?
If one of the above circumstances has been met, a grandparent can file a Complaint for Grandparent Visitation in District Court.
To be successful in obtaining an order granting grandparent visitation, grandparents must prove:
- that there is a past or present relationship with the grandchild that is "significant" and "beneficial;"
- that it is in best interests of the child that the relationship continue, and;
- that the visitation with the grandparent will not adversely interfere with parent-child relationship.
Ultimately, the court has the discretion to grant or deny visitation.
What if the child has been removed by Juvenile Court or is otherwise the subject of a Juvenile Court case?
A District Court cannot order grandparent visitation so long as the Juvenile Court has jurisdiction over the grandchildren. In that circumstance, while the Juvenile Court action is pending, the grandparent must seek relief in the Juvenile Court.
To establish grandparent visitation through Juvenile Court, the grandparent(s) must first file a Complaint to Intervene (become a party) in the Juvenile Court case.
Grandparents can intervene in Juvenile Court proceedings involving their grandchildren as a matter of right. However, any right grandparents might have to visitation while their grandchildren are under the jurisdiction of the Juvenile Court is subject to a showing that such visitation is in the best interests of the children.
Grandparents should also be aware that the Juvenile Court has discretionary authority to award temporary custody to the grandparents upon a finding that they qualify as "reputable citizen[s] of good moral character" or a "suitable family."
Another key point to keep in mind: a grandparent’s legal capacity to intervene into a juvenile court proceeding and/or request visitation or placement depends on one’s legal status as a grandparent. That status ceases when the parental rights of the parent through whom grandparental status is claimed are terminated or relinquished. In other words, if your child no longer has parental rights, you have no grandparent rights because, in the eyes of the law, you are no longer the grandparent.
Take action early
While grandparents in Nebraska do have certain legal rights, it’s important to take action early. Delay, and you risk the relationship with your grandchild and your legal right to maintain that relationship. The best thing to do is to immediately talk to a lawyer who is experienced in this focused area of the law.