In order to start the divorce process while representing yourself, you'll need to complete some forms. You can obtain the forms online, from the Nebraska Supreme Court's online self-help center. These are official forms, but you should double-check with your local court rules.
The Nebraska Supreme Court offers simple divorce forms for couples with and without children. It's important to use the right forms for your case. Be thorough and complete in responding to the questions. If you are confused by certain legal terms, the Nebraska courts offer an online glossary of legal terms.
Keep in mind, you can only use the Nebraska court forms for simple divorces where all the following statements are true:
The forms you're required to complete differ depending on whether you have children and also on whether you are the plaintiff (the spouse who initiates the divorce) or the defendant (the spouse who is served with divorce papers). If you and your spouse have minor children (meaning, kids who are financially dependent on you and who aren't legally emancipated), you need to use the Simple Divorce With Children forms.
But if you don't have any minor children together, you should use the Simple Divorce without Children forms. Fill out the forms on a computer if you can. If not, be sure to write or print neatly and legibly.
If you and your spouse have minor children, then you'll need to agree on a custody arrangement that supports your children's best interests. If you can't resolve this, you'll have to go to court, where a judge will decide for you.
You can start by completing the Complaint for Dissolution of Marriage with Children, the Confidential Party and Social Security Information Form, and the Vital Statistics Certificate. You may wish to prepare the Financial Affidavit for Child Support and the Parenting Plan as well, but the Complaint, Confidential Forms, and Vital Statistics Certificate are what you need to complete to get the divorce started.
Don't sign any affidavits, oaths, or sworn statements unless you're in the presence of a notary. Most of the forms come with separate instructions, which you should read before starting and keep handy as you work.
If you and your spouse don't have minor children, then download and complete the Complaint for Dissolution of Marriage without Children, the Confidential Party and Social Security, Gender, and Birth Dates form, and the Vital Statistics Certificate. Make sure to read all the instructions and don't sign any affidavits, oaths, or sworn statements unless a notary is present.
Filing Your Forms
If you've met jurisdictional requirements by living in Nebraska for at least one year, you may be ready to file for divorce. Make two copies of all documents and hold onto the original. Eventually you will give the original to the court, one copy to the defendant, and keep the last one for yourself. See Neb. Rev. Stat. § 42-349 (2019).
Go to your local courthouse (the one in the county where you or your spouse are living) and ask to file the complaint, and the Vital Statistics Certificate. Check your local rules about whether you need to file the Confidential Party Information and Social Security forms.
You'll need to pay a filing fee unless you complete the Affidavit and Application to Proceed In Forma Pauperis and the court agrees that the fee should be waived because you're indigent (meaning, you can't afford it).
Once you've paid the fee (or had it waived) and presented the correct, complete forms, the clerk will create a divorce file and assign it a case number that will go on all future documents. Serve your spouse as soon as possible after filing your case. If you don't serve your spouse within six months of filing the complaint, your divorce case will be automatically dismissed.
When you've prepared and filed your forms, you should immediately serve your spouse with the documents so you spouse is aware of the divorce case and has the opportunity to answer.
If your spouse is in pro se (meaning, has not hired a lawyer), then you should serve your spouse directly at your spouse's home address. If your spouse has hired a lawyer, serve your spouse's attorney at the lawyer's office.
If you're the plaintiff, special service rules apply. You have two basic options:
Different rules may apply if you're trying to serve someone who is very hard to locate, such a spouse who is in the military, out-of-state, in jail, or simply trying to avoid you. Check with your clerk of court for more information in these unusual situations.
After the plaintiff spouse serves the defendant, the defendant has 30 days to file an Answer and Counterclaim.
Both spouses have to complete a Financial Affidavit in the initial phases of a contested divorce (meaning, a divorce where the parties can't agree on all the terms). The affidavit is a statement sworn in front of a notary public that details each spouse's financial picture, including income, expenses, assets, and debts.
This helps everyone to understand more about, for example, how much child support should be paid or whether one spouse should receive alimony. Make sure you are clear, detailed, and candid when you complete this form. File it with the court and serve it upon your spouse as well.
See our page on Nebraska Divorce and Family Laws for information on the divorce process and related legal issues.
Legal Aid of Nebraska is a nonprofit that serves low-income Nebraska residents with legal problems. Their extensive website contains a "Self Help Resources" section for couples trying to complete a divorce without an attorney. You can apply for Legal Aid representation online or by calling 402-348-1069. See also Neb. Rev. Stat. § 42-364 (2019).