25-403. Custody; drug offenses; best interests of child; joint custody; domestic violence; modification of decree; fees
A. The court shall determine custody, either originally or on petition for modification, in accordance with the best interests of the child. The court shall consider all relevant factors, including:
B. In awarding child custody, the court may order sole custody or joint custody. This section does not create a presumption in favor of one custody arrangement over another. The court in determining custody shall not prefer a parent as custodian because of that parent's sex.
C. The court may issue an order for joint custody of a child if both parents agree and submit a written parenting plan and the court finds such an order is in the best interests of the child. The court may order joint legal custody without ordering joint physical custody.
D. The court may issue an order for joint custody over the objection of one of the parents if the court makes specific written findings of why the order is in the child's best interests. In determining whether joint custody is in the child's best interests, the court shall consider the factors prescribed in subsection A of this section and all of the following:
1. The agreement or lack of an agreement by the parents regarding joint custody.
2. Whether a parent's lack of agreement is unreasonable or is influenced by an issue not related to the best interests of the child.
3. The past, present and future abilities of the parents to cooperate in decision-making about the child to the extent required by the order of joint custody.
4. Whether the joint custody arrangement is logistically possible.
E. Notwithstanding subsection N of this section, joint custody shall not be awarded if the court makes a finding of the existence of significant domestic violence pursuant to section 13-3601 or if the court finds by a preponderance of the evidence that there has been a significant history of domestic violence.
F. Before an award is made granting joint custody, the parents shall submit a proposed parenting plan that includes at least the following:
1. Each parent's rights and responsibilities for the personal care of the child and for decisions in areas such as education, health care and religious training.
2. A schedule of the physical residence of the child, including holidays and school vacations.
3. A procedure by which proposed changes, disputes and alleged breaches may be mediated or resolved, which may include the use of conciliation services or private counseling.
4. A procedure for periodic review of the plan's terms by the parents.
5. A statement that the parties understand that joint custody does not necessarily mean equal parenting time.
G. If the parents are unable to agree on any element to be included in a parenting plan, the court shall determine that element. The court may determine other factors that are necessary to promote and protect the emotional and physical health of the child.
I. The court may specify one parent as the primary caretaker of the child and one home as the primary home of the child for the purposes of defining eligibility for public assistance. This finding does not diminish the rights of either parent and does not create a presumption for or against either parent in a proceeding for the modification of a custody order.
J. In a contested custody case, the court shall make specific findings on the record about all relevant factors and the reasons for which the decision is in the best interests of the child.