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Know the Laws: Nebraska

UPDATED August 18, 2016

Domestic Violence Protection Orders

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A domestic violence protection order is a civil order that provides protection from harm by a family or household member, including former or current dating partners.

Basic information

back to topWhat is the legal definition of abuse in Nebraska?

This section defines abuse for the purposes of getting a domestic violence protection order. The following acts are considered abuse (domestic violence) when they occur between family or household members:

  • causing or attempting to cause bodily injury, with or without a "dangerous instrument" (i.e., a weapon, heavy object, etc.);
  • placing someone in fear of bodily injury by "credible threat," which means:
    • a verbal or written threat (including via email, text, etc.)
    • a threat that is implied through a pattern of conduct or a combination of verbal, written, or electronic statements/conduct that causes you to fear for your safety or your family's safety; (Note: you do not have to prove that the harasser had the intention to actually act on the threat, just that s/he seemed to have the ability to do so if s/he chose to.  If the harasser makes the threat while s/he is in jail, that does not matter -- you can still believe that s/he has the ability to carry out the threat); or
  • forcing unwanted sexual contact or sexual penetration, as defined by the law.*
Family or household members include:
  • spouses or former spouses,
  • children,
  • people who are presently living together or who have lived together in the past,
  • people who have a child in common whether or not they have been married or have lived together at any time,
  • people related by blood or marriage, and
  • people who are presently involved in a dating relationship with each other or who have been involved in a dating relationship with each other in the past.**

* NE R.S. § 42-903(1)
** NE R.S. § 42-903(3)

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back to topWhat types of protection orders are there? How long do they last?

In Nebraska there are ex parte temporary protection orders and final protection orders

Ex parte is a Latin term meaning “from one side.”  These orders are called ex parte because you may receive them without prior notice to the abuser or his/her presence in the courtroom.  When you file your petition for a protection order, a judge can issue an ex parte order if s/he has reason to believe that you are in immediate danger of being abused based on your affidavit or your statements.*  If the judge does not give you an ex parte order, the judge should schedule a hearing within 14 days where the abuser can be present and you will have to prove that the order should be issued.**

If an ex parte order is issued, it will be served upon the abuser along with a form for the abuser to request a "show-cause hearing" in which the abuser would appear in court and show cause (evidence) why the order should be dismissed -- and you would present evidence why you should keep the order.  If the abuser wants to request a show-cause hearing, s/he has to return this form to the clerk within 5 days of receiving the order and the hearing would be scheduled within 30 days.  If the abuser cannot prove that the order should be dropped or does not appear at the hearing, the temporary ex parte order is now considered to be a final order.*  A final protection order will last for 1 year.***

* NE R.S. § 42-925(1)
** NE R.S. § 42-925(2)
*** NE R.S. § 42-925(4)

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back to topHow can a protection order help me?

An ex parte order or a final protection order can order the abuser to:

  • not to restrain you or restrict your liberty (freedom);
  • not to threaten, assault, bother, attack, or otherwise disturb you;
  • not to contact you in any way;
  • be excluded (removed) from your home (regardless of who owns the home);
  • stay away from any place specified by the court;
  • not have or buy a firearm; and/or
  • do anything else that the judge believes is necessary for your safety.
  • Note: The order can also give you temporary custody of any minor children for up to 90 days.*

Whether a judge orders any or all of the above depends on the facts of your case.

* NE R.S. §§ 42-924(1); 42-925(1)

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back to topIn which court do I file for a protection order?

You must file the petition in district court and the case may take place in either district court or in county court.*  In the petition, you may be asked to include whether you want the case to be heard by a county court judge or by a district court judge.**  However, just because you choose a particular court, it doesn’t mean that the case will necessarily go to that court.   If you are unsure of which court to request, you might want to ask an attorney in your county to see what the difference is (if there is one).  For courthouse locations in your area, see NE Courthouse Locations.  To find legal organizations, go to NE Finding a Lawyer.

* NE R.S. § 42-924(2)
** NE R.S. § 25-2740(2)

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WomensLaw.org thanks Robert A. Sanford, Legal Director at the Nebraska Domestic Violence Sexual Assault Coalition, for his help with this section.

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