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Child Custody: Grandparent Visitation Rights

February 12Child Custody

Nebraska’s grandparent visitation laws explicitly protect parental rights while considering the child’s best interests. However, grandparents can seek visitation over a parent’s objection when:

(a) The child’s parent or parents are deceased;

(b) The marriage of the child’s parents has been dissolved or is being dissolved; or

(c) The parents of the minor child have never been married but paternity has been legally established.

Gaining visitation, even when one of the above conditions is present, is still difficult to obtain. A grandparent seeking visitation over an objection must prove by clear and convincing evidence that (1) there is, or has been, a significant beneficial relationship between the grandparent and the child; (2) it is in the best interests of the child that such relationship continue; and (3) such visitation will not adversely interfere with the parent-child relationship. Even when the grandparent proves each of these three criteria, the court is not obligated to order visitation.  The statutory right to grandparent visitation in Nebraska requires the satisfaction of a steep and significant burden of proof. Specifically, a grandparent seeking visitation over the objection of a natural parent must establish the existence of a significant beneficial relationship with the child and that it will be in the best interests of the child to continue the relationship. The notion that a relationship with biological grandparents is naturally in the best interests of a child is not sufficient.

In its recognition of natural parents’ enjoyment of certain due process rights, the Nebraska Supreme Court set forth a few relevant principles that apply to grandparent visitation cases, including:

(1) There is a presumption that fit parents act in the best interests of their children.

(2) In light of this presumption, a fit parent’s decision concerning the denial of grandparent visitation must be accorded at least some special weight.

(3) Notwithstanding the special weight to be accorded a fit parent’s decision, the presumption in favor of fit parents is rebuttable under the appropriate circumstances.


Even if the best interest of the child is to have a grandparent in their life, the court will require a greater showing to order grandparent visitation over the objection of a parent. In general, courts will determine a fit parent is in the best position to decide what is best for their child. Grandparent visitation rights cases are complicated, and we recommend securing an attorney if you are pursuing or resisting this type of lawsuit.

Questions or concerns with a family law issue of your own, call us at (402) 827-7000.

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