Child custody battles are often bitter and agonizing. If both parents have a claim to be in the child’s life, it can turn into a protracted legal battle to attempt to get a greater share of the custody. Many often wonder what a Nebraska father’s rights are when it comes to divorce and custody battles. While they should have equal rights, paternity can complicate this arrangement and leave a father out in the cold.

Does a Father Have the Same Rights as a Mother to Custody in Nebraska?

Nebraska law establishes that married fathers have the same legal rights as mothers when debating custody during a separation or divorce. A judge should not factor in the parent’s gender when deciding on how to divide custody. Instead, they will examine the income level of both parents, history of abuse or neglect, who was responsible for raising the child primarily, and living arrangements.

While married fathers have the same rights as mothers, unmarried fathers will have more difficulties dealing with family court.

What rights does a father have in Nebraska?

What Happens if the Parents Are Not Married?

If a father isn’t married to the mother at the time of the birth of a child, the mother will have sole legal and physical custody of the child. Without establishing paternity, the father will have a difficult time asserting his right to be in a child’s life and making decisions on raising a child. An unmarried father with paternity will have the same rights as a married man.

If a couple decides to separate, the father won’t be able to claim the right to have joint custody with their child. Custody comes in two main categories:

  • Physical custody: This type includes who is caring for the child in their house at any time. When parents split physical custody, they allow the child to switch between which parent’s house they stay at on a fixed schedule. Instead of joint custody, some parents may just opt for visitation rights, where they can see their children for a period but not take them into their care for an extended amount of time.
  • Legal custody: This custody allows the parent to make decisions about important aspects of a child’s life. For instance, parents with joint legal custody will have to agree on topics such as religion, schooling, medical treatment, and diet. A parent with sole legal custody will get to make all of these decisions without any input from any other party.

How Do You Establish Paternity in Nebraska?

There are a few steps a father can take to establish paternity of a child in Nebraska. These methods include:

  • Signing a voluntary affidavit: After birth, if a couple is unwed, the mother will have the opportunity to sign an affidavit establishing who the father is. The couple can also choose to establish paternity this way down the line by filling out a form and acknowledging who the father is. There is no need for a DNA test if both parents agree on the paternity of the child.
  • Court-ordered DNA test: An unwed father can file a petition to the court to ask them to compel the mother to submit the child for a DNA test. This is a reasonable option when the other party is not cooperative and won’t sign off on a DNA test.
  • Independent DNA test: If both parties are amenable to the idea, you can conduct a DNA test on your own through a licensed business to establish paternity. If the DNA comes out a match, the parents can fill out paperwork to establish paternity.

What Should You Do If You Feel Like You Aren’t Getting the Same Rights in Nebraska?

If you believe a judge ruled unfairly in a custody or divorce, you should speak with a lawyer about filing an appeal. Appeals let another judge look at the case and determine if the ruling was fair or if it demands a change.

Winning an appeal battle may let you modify spousal payments, change your custody situation, or alter the separation of property in a divorce. You’ll want a lawyer on your side to give you better odds at succeeding on appeal.


Q: How Does the Court Determine Child Custody in Nebraska?

A: A judge will look at several factors when determining child custody. If a father has not established paternity, the mother will receive sole custody. In cases where the father has established paternity, the judge will look at the income of both parents, living conditions, who cared for the child the most up to this point, and any history of neglect or abuse.

Q: How Long Does a Father Have to Be Absent Before They Lose Their Rights in Nebraska?

A: Nebraska law allows a parent to terminate the other parent’s custody rights if they abandon the child for six consecutive months. The termination of rights will remove the ability of the parent to have custody of the child and may impact other aspects of a separation.

Q: Is Nebraska a 50/50 Custody State?

A: The court will try to reward equal custody to both parents if the judge believes they will provide a somewhat equal level of care for the child. If one parent has a history of being neglectful in a child’s life, the judge may opt to give the other parent a greater share of the custody rights.

Q: Does a Father Have Equal Rights if He’s on the Birth Certificate?

A: A father gets his name on the birth certificate if he’s married at the time of the child’s birth or the parents sign an affidavit establishing paternity. If the father’s name is on the birth certificate, he will have the same rights to the child as the mother unless the father has demonstrated a pattern of abuse or neglect for the child.

Stange Law Firm, PC: Experienced Nebraska Custody Attorneys

Questions of paternity and battles over custody are never easy, and emotions can run high due to the high-stakes nature of the case. If you are going through a family law issue, you’ll want to hire an attorney to help you through the process. Your attorney can advocate for you and give you a better chance at an acceptable custody arrangement.

At Stange Law Firm, PC, we can help. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and learn about our services.