At times, caregivers of elderly or disabled individuals, and family members of these individuals, may be at odds with each other. Among other struggles, caregivers may, at times, isolate the individuals from their loved ones. Nebraska recently enacted LB 122, a bill intended to prevent caregivers from arbitrarily denying visitation to a family member of a resident of a health care facility or an individual receiving care within any home or dwelling. If a family member is being denied visitation, he or she may petition the court to compel visitation. The family member can petition the court even if the caregiver is also related to the individual receiving care.

However, the court may not compel visitation if the elderly or disabled individual expresses a desire not to have visitation, or if visitation is not in the best interest of that individual. Sometimes, individuals may be facing significant health declines or imminent death, making a long judicial process impractical. In such cases, the court can conduct an emergency hearing on visitation as soon as practical, but no later than ten days after the petition is filed.

Regardless of urgency, if the court finds that the caregiver knowingly isolated the individual from visitation, the caregiver will be responsible for court costs and reasonable attorney’s fees of the family member. The family member should consult their attorney on other remedies that may be available under Nebraska law.

Family members who may petition the court include spouses, adult children, adult grandchildren, parents, grandparents, or siblings of the elderly or disabled individual. “Adult” means an individual who is at least 18 years of age. Adult children can be related to the individual biologically, through adoption or judgment of parentage, or through marriage (even if the marriage was dissolved).

If you believe you are wrongfully being denied visitation to a loved one, you should consult an attorney on the possibility of filing a petition to secure visitation.