Parents quarreling during a divorce proceeding often ask the same question. Will the court favor me over my child’s other parent in child custody? Nebraska’s laws make it clear. The highest priority is to get a custody agreement that meets the best interests of the child. That usually means shared custody.

Couples going through a difficult divorce often are looking for an advantage. Unfortunately, the children are often used as pawns. The process is in place so that does not happen.

Both parents’ background is also important. The court will consider if either has a history of alcohol or drug abuse, violence or a criminal background. Unless there are serious issues, the court encourages a joint custody agreement.

The Tender Years Doctrine is not a factor

The Tender Years Doctrine was a standard used by the court for years. It was the belief that the mother was the best parent during a child’s “tender years.” That was usually 4 years old and younger.

That preference ended years ago. The Family Court now requires the parents to work out a parenting plan. It should detail both parents’ strategies for meeting their child’s needs. This plan takes precedence over any custody arrangements agreed to by the parents.

The process is not in place to cater to either the parents’ needs

The court will examine the plan and determine if it is best to award joint custody or sole custody. If there are still concerns, or no plan is submitted, the court can order alternate dispute resolution or mediation. The court can also create its own plan.

The court is not trying to achieve what is best for the parents. The process is there to meet the best interests of the child.