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Legal Information: Nebraska

Restraining Orders

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Laws current as of April 26, 2024

What 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, also known as domestic violence, when they occur between family or household members:

  • causing or attempting to cause physical injury, with or without a weapon (“dangerous instrument”);
  • placing someone in fear of physical injury by making a “credible threat,” which means:
    • a verbal or written threat, including through 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 reasonably fear for your safety or your family’s safety; and
  • forcing unwanted sexual contact or sexual penetration, as defined by law.1

Note: You do not have to prove that the abuser had the intention to actually act on the threat, just that s/he seemed to have the ability to do so. If the abuser makes the threat while s/he is in jail, it can still be seen as a “credible threat.”2

1 NE R.S. § 42-903(1)
2 NE R.S. § 42-903(1)(b)

What types of protection orders are there? How long do they last?

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

A judge can give you an ex parte temporary order without prior notice to the abuser or his/her presence in the courtroom. To get this order, the judge must believe that you are in immediate danger of being abused based on your affidavit or your statements. 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.” During the hearing, the abuser would appear in court and present evidence (“show cause”) as to why the order should be dismissed and you would present evidence about why you should keep the order. The abuser has 10 business days to return the request for the show-cause hearing.If the judge does not give you an ex parte order, the judge could schedule a hearing within 14 days where both you and the abuser can be present. At that hearing, you would present evidence to the judge to try to prove why an order should be issued.2

If the abuser requests a show-cause hearing, it will be scheduled within 30 days. The judge can also decide on his/her own to have a hearing or you can request it. At that hearing, the judge would decide whether to issue a final order.

If the abuser does not request a show-cause hearing, and the judge doesn’t decide to hold one on his/her own, then your temporary order would be considered a final order.3 A final protection order will last for one year but it can be renewed each year.4 See Can I renew my protection order? for more information.

1 NE R.S. § 42-925(1)
2 NE R.S. § 42-925(3)
3 NE R.S. § 42-925(2)​
4 NE R.S. §§ 42-925(5); 42-924(3)

What protections can I get in a protection order?

An ex parte temporary protection order or a final protection order can do the following:

  • order the abuser to:
    • not restrain you or restrict your freedom (liberty);
    • not threaten, assault, bother, attack, or otherwise disturb you;
    • not contact you in any way;
    • be removed (excluded) from your home regardless of who owns the home;
    • stay away from any specific place;
    • not have or buy a firearm;
    • not be in contact with, hurt, or kill any household pet owned or held by you, the abuser, or any family or household member who lives with either of you; and
  • give you:
    • temporary custody of any minor children for up to 90 days;
    • sole possession of any household pet that is owned or held by you, the abuser, or any family or household member who lives with either of you; and
    • anything else that the judge believes is necessary for your safety.1

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

1 NE R.S. §§ 42-924(1); 42-925(1)

In which court do I file for a protection order?

You must file the petition in district court but the case may take place in either district court or in county court.1 In the petition, you will have to state your preference for whether you want the case to be heard by a county court judge or by a district court judge.2 If you are unsure of which court to request, you might want to ask an attorney in your county for advice. For courthouse locations in your area, see NE Courthouse Locations. To find legal organizations, go to NE Finding a Lawyer.

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

If the abuser lives in a different state, can I still get an order against him/her?

When you and the abuser live in different states, the judge may not have “personal jurisdiction” (power) over an out-of-state abuser. This means that the court may not be able to grant an order against him/her.

There are a few ways that a court can have personal jurisdiction over an out-of-state abuser:

  1. The abuser has a substantial connection to your state. Perhaps the abuser regularly travels to your state to visit you, for business, to see extended family, or the abuser lived in your state and recently fled.
  2. One of the acts of abuse “happened” in your state. Perhaps the abuser sends you threatening texts or harassing phone calls from another state but you read the messages or answer the calls while you are in your state. The judge could decide that the abuse “happened” to you while you were in your state. It may also be possible that the abuser was in your state when s/he abused you s/he but has since left the state.
  3. If you file your petition and the abuser gets served with the court petition while s/he is in your state, this is another way for the court to get jurisdiction.

However, even if none of the above apply to your situation, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t get an order. If you file, you may be granted an order on consent or the judge may find other circumstances that allow the order to be granted.

You can read more about personal jurisdiction in our Court System Basics - Personal Jurisdiction section.

Note: If the judge in your state refuses to issue an order, you can file for an order in the courthouse in the state where the abuser lives. However, remember that you will likely need to file the petition in person and attend various court dates, which could be difficult if the abuser’s state is far away.