It’s a pretty safe bet that, when every couple shares that first wedded kiss, they love that other person more than anything else. The moment is perfect. The day is perfect. Life is perfect. You eat, you dance, and you hop in the limo to ride off into the sweet unending bliss of marriage. For some people that’s precisely how the story ends. For the other half, it doesn’t turn out quite so well.

While everybody starts happy, not everybody ends up that way. The reasons for contemplating the end of a marriage are unique to each person’s situation, but once the decision has been made your options aren’t as numerous. In Nebraska you have three options.

Divorce: Everybody knows about divorce. Whether your girlfriend’s sister’s brother-in-law had a nasty divorce that everybody is still talking about at Christmas, or your own parents have been divorced, odds are that you’re at least somewhat familiar with the concept. Nebraska is a “no fault” divorce state which basically means that neither party has to prove that any basic cause exists for the divorce. In Nebraska the basic requirement to obtain a divorce is that at least one of the parties must have resided in Nebraska for at least one year. Divorce is a final and permanent end to your marriage, and once granted, will lay out all of your rights and prevent you from remarrying anywhere in the world for a period of six months from the date your divorce is final. This is the appropriate solution when you are sure your marriage is over and you want a permanent order of the court that spells out your rights and responsibilities.

Legal Separation: So what if you’re not sure about the whole divorce thing, but you are sure that you want some space for the time being and you want your basic rights put on paper? Turns out you’re in luck, there’s a procedure for that too. A legal separation gives you most of the same benefits as a divorce without the finality of actually being divorced. A judge can determine custody, alimony, child support and property division without actually making a final order ending your marriage. A legal separation can be filed before you meet the residency requirements for a divorce. Once you meet the residency requirements your legal separation can be converted into a divorce.

Annulment: When most people think of annulment they’re probably thinking of something they obtain through their church or religious affiliation. Nebraska law provides for annulments, albeit the requirements to obtain one are typically very different. In its most basic form, the granting of an annulment simply means your marriage never even happened. In Nebraska a marriage can be annulled under five circumstances: (1) the marriage between the parties was prohibited by law, (2) either party was impotent at the time of marriage, (3) either party had a spouse living at the time of marriage, (4) either party was mentally ill or a person with mental retardation at the time of marriage, or (5) there was force or fraud. While many people seeking divorce probably wish they could just make the whole marriage go away annulments are actually pretty rare because they are very hard to prove. An annulment would be appropriate only if your marriage clearly fit into one of the five categories listed, if not then you’ll likely need a divorce or separation.

Marriages end, that’s a sad fact, but one that more and more people are facing. While your situation is unique to you and your spouse, your options for what to do once your marriage hits a breaking point are somewhat limited. Talking with a competent attorney who can help answer your questions will allow you to determine what option will be best for you and your situation.

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