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What rights do grandparents have in Nebraska to visitation?

Nebraska has relatively narrow laws when it comes to a grandparent's visitations rights.

That means that you have to meet very specific criteria in order to get the judge to grant you visitation against the wishes of the child's parents.

What are the biggest hurdles that grandparents face under Nebraska's laws?

-- Grandparents cannot even petition the court for visitation with their grandchild if their grandchild's nuclear family is intact.

This includes cases where the parents are not legally married but paternity has been established.

There are really no gray areas in the statute regarding this at all -- although there is an adoption exception. If the grandchild has been adopted, the adoption does not automatically sever the grandparents' existing rights. However, those rights can be severed or modified if there is showing that it would be in the child's best interest to do so.

-- Grandparents who are able to petition the court for visitation must be able to show the court that they either have enjoyed a significant, positive relationship with their grandchild or currently enjoy one.

That means grandparents can't meet the requirement if they have never developed a relationship with a grandchild because of an already fractured relationship with the child's parents or some other reason, like geographical distance.

-- The court has to determine that it is in the grandchild's best interests to continue the relationship, rather than sever it -- and that includes a determination that allowing the grandparent continued visitation won't adversely affect the relationship the child has with his or her parents.

This puts a much bigger burden on you, as a grandparent, to prove the nature of your relationship with your grandchild and to convince the court that it is worth preserving. If you are at odds with the child's mother or father (or step-mother or step-father, especially if he or she has taken the place of your own child after death or divorce), that can seriously damage your case -- unless you can demonstrate to the judge that you aren't doing anything to damage your grandchild's relationship with that person.

If you're getting cues that your continued interaction with your grandchild is less-than-welcome, consider talking to an attorney quickly in order to learn how to handle the situation.

Source: Nebraska Legistature, "Nebraska Revised Statute 43-1802," accessed April 21, 2017

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