Nebraska Revised Statute 43-2923
Best interests of the child requirements.
The best interests of the child require:
(1) A parenting arrangement and parenting plan or other court-ordered arrangement which provides for a child's safety, emotional growth, health, stability, and physical care and regular and continuous school attendance and progress for school-age children;
(2) When a preponderance of the evidence indicates domestic intimate partner abuse, a parenting and visitation arrangement that provides for the safety of a victim parent;
(3) That the child's families and those serving in parenting roles remain appropriately active and involved in parenting with safe, appropriate, continuing quality contact between children and their families when they have shown the ability to act in the best interests of the child and have shared in the responsibilities of raising the child;
(4) That even when parents have voluntarily negotiated or mutually mediated and agreed upon a parenting plan, the court shall determine whether it is in the best interests of the child for parents to maintain continued communications with each other and to make joint decisions in performing parenting functions as are necessary for the care and healthy development of the child. If the court rejects a parenting plan, the court shall provide written findings as to why the parenting plan is not in the best interests of the child;
(5) That certain principles provide a basis upon which education of parents is delivered and upon which negotiation and mediation of parenting plans are conducted. Such principles shall include: To minimize the potentially negative impact of parental conflict on children; to provide parents the tools they need to reach parenting decisions that are in the best interests of a child; to provide alternative dispute resolution or specialized alternative dispute resolution options that are less adversarial for the child and the family; to ensure that the child's voice is heard and considered in parenting decisions; to maximize the safety of family members through the justice process; and, in cases of domestic intimate partner abuse or child abuse or neglect, to incorporate the principles of victim safety and sensitivity, offender accountability, and community safety in parenting plan decisions; and
(6) In determining custody and parenting arrangements, the court shall consider the best interests of the minor child, which shall include, but not be limited to, consideration of the foregoing factors and:
(a) The relationship of the minor child to each parent prior to the commencement of the action or any subsequent hearing;
(b) The desires and wishes of the minor child, if of an age of comprehension but regardless of chronological age, when such desires and wishes are based on sound reasoning;
(c) The general health, welfare, and social behavior of the minor child;
(d) Credible evidence of abuse inflicted on any family or household member. For purposes of this subdivision, abuse and family or household member shall have the meanings prescribed in section 42-903; and
(e) Credible evidence of child abuse or neglect or domestic intimate partner abuse. For purposes of this subdivision, the definitions in section 43-2922 shall be used.
In the context of visitation and preservation of parental rights, the list of factors in this section is relevant, but the court is not limited to only those factors. Kenneth C. v. Lacie H., 286 Neb. 799, 839 N.W.2d 305 (2013).
A court is required to devise a parenting plan and to consider joint legal and physical custody, but the court is not required to grant equal parenting time to the parents if such is not in the child's best interests. Kamal v. Imroz, 277 Neb. 116, 759 N.W.2d 914 (2009).
The best interests of a child require that the child's family remain appropriately active and involved in parenting with safe, appropriate, and continuing quality contact between the child and the child's family when they have shown the ability to act in the best interests of the child and have shared in the responsibilities of raising the child. Thompson v. Thompson, 24 Neb. App. 349, 887 N.W.2d 52 (2016).
This section of the Nebraska Parenting Act sets forth a nonexhaustive list of factors to be considered in determining the best interests of a child in regard to custody. Such factors include the relationship of the minor child with each parent, the desires of the minor child, the general health and well-being of the minor child, and credible evidence of abuse inflicted on the child by any family or household member. Floerchinger v. Floerchinger, 24 Neb. App. 120, 883 N.W.2d 419 (2016).
While the wishes of a child are not controlling in the determination of custody, if a child is of sufficient age and has expressed an intelligent preference, the child's preference is entitled to consideration. Floerchinger v. Floerchinger, 24 Neb. App. 120, 883 N.W.2d 419 (2016).
The trial court did not err in considering an 8 1/2-year-old child's wishes regarding custody, where there was no evidence that the court regarded the child's wishes as determinative of its decision and the child was of an age of comprehension and displayed sound reasoning. Kenner v. Battershaw, 24 Neb. App. 58, 879 N.W.2d 409 (2016).
Although there was no evidence that the mother was currently engaged in abusive behaviors or an abusive relationship, the trial court acted within its discretion in finding that the father's custody was in the best interests of the child based on the mother's history of domestic violence, previous removal of a child, and the mother's questionable rehabilitation. State on behalf of Keegan M. v. Joshua M., 20 Neb. App. 411, 824 N.W.2d 383 (2012).