Parenting Act Mediation

Parenting Act Mediation

In 2007 the Nebraska Legislature passed the Parenting Act.  As part of the Parenting Act the Office of Dispute Resolution was charged with the new responsibility of approving and maintaining a list of all Basic Parenting Education Courses, and second-level parenting education courses as well as approving and maintaining a list of Parenting Act Mediators. 

Mediations of parenting plans help parents keep their focus on the best interest of their child(ren) while ensuring a neutral and safe environment for each parent to address their concerns.  Parenting plans include details on how parenting responsibilities after separation or divorce will be allocated to ensure all needs of the children are met. These types of mediations require special attention as each parenting plan formed must comply with the Nebraska Parenting Act.  Therefore, the Office of Dispute Resolution has a detailed application process to ensure all approved mediators have the experience and training necessary to mediate parenting plans. 

To learn more about parenting plan mediations conducted at the six ODR-approved mediation centers see the Parenting Act Six Years in Review, and find your local, approved, non-profit mediation center for assistance with a parenting mediation on our Mediation Center Map and Contacts page.

Nebraska Parenting Act

Nebraska Parenting Act
Nebraska Parenting Act

If you are involved in Divorce or Custody proceedings in the state of Nebraska there is a high probability that your case falls within the Parenting Act. The Parenting Act brochure can help you determine what the court will require of you during these proceedings.  The Parenting Act:

  • emphasizes the "best-interests of the child" standard as the basis by which child custody and parenting time issues are resolved;
  • recognizes the importance of maintaining parent-child relationships while at the same time protecting victims of abuse and neglect;
  • defines the court-recognized distinction between joint legal and joint physical custody arrangements;
  • requires parents involved in custody and parenting time cases to attend a parenting education course;
  • requires parenting plans for all parenting, custody, visitation, and access to children matters;
  • encourages the voluntary use of mediation to create parenting plans;
  • may require mediation in some contested cases.

What is a Parenting Plan?

What is a Parenting Plan?
What is a Parenting Plan?

Simply put, a Parenting Plan is a "blueprint" for how children are going to be co-parented after their parents have separated or divorced. In addition to indicating how the day-to-day time with the children will be shared, including during the holidays and vacation. A good parenting plan can include decisions on issues such as:

  • Who takes them on unexpected snow days, teacher-workshop days?
  • How will it be decided which school the children attend?
  • How will it be decided what daycare is used?
  • How will it be decided what religion the child is raised in?

A plan can even be as detailed as describing the amount of telephone contact with the child when at the other parent's home or who gets to choose the Halloween costumes and take the little ones Trick-or-Treating.

Parenting Plans can be developed by parents, attorneys, or through mediation. If no plan is developed, the court will order its own parenting plan.

Benefits to Mediating a Parenting Plan

Benefits to Mediating a Parenting Plan
Benefits to Mediating a Parenting Plan

1. Overriding benefit: establishes a plan in the best interest of the child

The overriding benefit of a mediated parenting plan is simple: mediating a plan allows both parents to come together in a neutral setting, generate options, and focus on the best interests of the child. The parents, rather than the judges, are involved in creating a solution. Most importantly, the process is designed to benefit the child. Mediation takes co-parenting out of the adversarial arena and into a cooperative, "what's best for the kids'' discussion.

2. Details for on-going parent-to-parent communication

Mediation helps to lay out the details for on-going parent-to-parent communication. At the end of the process, which can take from two to four mediation sessions, the parents have not only created their own plan for co-parenting their children, and they've also experienced a process that models how to handle future disagreements.

3. Reality testing

Assisting the parents to do 'reality testing' is one role of the mediator when creating a workable parenting plan. Reality testing involves planning for the "what ifs" that life throws your way. Because they've "seen it all" experienced mediators bring an extensive list of "what ifs" to the table for discussion and planning.

4. Results in greater satisfaction with the plan

Studies prove that parenting plans that have been developed with mediation are much more likely to be adhered to on a long-term basis as both parents crafted the agreement together.

In addition to the six ODR-mediation centers, Douglas County Court Conciliation and Mediation Services as well as many private mediators are qualified to assist you with creating a child centered parenting plan.  Please visit the Approved Parenting Act Mediator List for information on approved mediators in your area.