Idaho family law matters consist of many different issues ranging from divan Idaho family law matter or are already involved in one, our primer, below, is the best way to get acquainted with the basic rules and laws that govern family law cases. Getting educated on the laws and applying them to the facts of your individual case is the first step. Then, if you need more family law help, we can connect you – for free – to a local Idaho family law attorney or professional that can guide you further.
Idaho divorce law provides for both fault based and no-fault divorces by law. Idaho Statute Title 32 32-603 provides for 8 grounds for divorce:
- Extreme cruelty,
- Willful desertion,
- Willful neglect,
- Habitual incompetence,
- Conviction of felony,
- Insanity, and
- Irreconcilable differences.
No fault divorces are those filed under number 8 above and allow courts to approve a divorce petition based on the fact that there are irreconcilable difference between the spouses. The other grounds for divorce are numbers 1-7 in the statute and listed above, these are called fault based grounds for divorce. These fault divorce reasons can sometimes be used when determining spousal support awards or child custody determinations.
Idaho Statute 32-701 lays out specific guidelines for residency prior to filing for divorce. The party who files for divorce (called the Plaintiff), must have been an Idaho resident for a minimum of six weeks prior to filing the divorce case. This is a very short residency period compared to many other states in the U.S.
Mandatory Waiting Period
Idaho also imposes a short waiting period before a final divorce decree can be entered. Once divorce papers have been served on the other spouse, the court imposes a mandatory 20 day waiting period before judgment can be entered.
Idaho Statute Title 39 Chapter 9 found here details how the property of a marriage is divided during divorce. Idaho is what is known as a community property state. Idaho law states that all property, with some exceptions, that are acquired after the date of the marriage by either spouse is community property. Community property rules dictate that all property called community property should be divided evenly on a 50/50 basis regardless of who earned what income or who paid for the property so long as it was earned and purchased during the marriage. Income and property that each spouse had prior to the marriage remains that spouse’s separate property though. Idaho law requires the parties to itemize and list all property involved and categorize it as either community property or separate property for a final determination by a divorce judge should the spouses disagree as to who should get what property.
Idaho statute also allows for one party to be awarded alimony from the other spouse. Alimony is essentially when the court orders one spouse to pay money to the other spouse who may lack the ability to support him or herself or who may not have sufficient income or property to support him or herself after the marriage ends. Idaho judges will take a number of factors into account when determining whether alimony is appropriate and if so, for how long and how much. Some of the main factors include: length of the marriage, age of the parties, earning capacity of each spouse, work history of each spouse, education level of each spouse, the fault of either party for the divorce, and the ability of one spouse to pay alimony to the other spouse. This can have an effect on an individual’s life for years and it is often necessary to get additional Idaho family law help when the subject of alimony comes up.
Idaho Child Support
Idaho child support laws require each parent to be held responsible for a specific portion of their child’s expenses. Idaho child support guidelines are not easy to follow or understand and the specific guidelines. In order to determine child support awards the court will consider the incomes of both parents. Idaho sets a minimum support amount of $50, which at the judge’s discretion can be decreased to a lower award amount. In fact when each parents total combined monthly income does not amount to $800 or more, the court has the discretion to determine a different support amount that could potentially be lower than the minimum support amount. Idaho follows a mandatory payment for child support that is to come directly out of the paying parent’s paychecks if they are employed. Idaho’s income shares model of calculating support takes into account both the gross income of each parent, the number of children, and the amount of time each parent spends with the children. The Supreme Court of Idaho has developed official child support worksheets for parents to complete to determine the amount of a child support award.
Idaho Child Custody
Idaho Statute Title 32 Chapter 7 deal with how the courts determine child custody and visitation issues. Idaho child custody laws determine what type of custody arrangement would be in the “best interests of the child.” This best interests of the child standard is used in every state, however, the weight of certain elements is given more weight in different states. Idaho is no different here in that the factors that primarily go into making a child custody determination include: the wishes of both the parents and child, the continuity and stability of each parent’s interactions and relationship with their child, any allegations of domestic violence, and also both parents unique circumstances and character. If domestic violence is alleged, the incident must be placed into the factors found in Idaho Statute Title 39 Chapter 63 here.
Idaho courts generally prefer that parents, when possible, agree to joint custody of the minor children. Whether joint or sole custody is granted to one or both parents, the court attempts to make sure that each parent is given substantial parenting time (also called visitation) with each parent. Child custody determinations are not permanent, however, and the court will allow modifications if it believes it is in the best interests of the child. Again, the factors that go into the initial grating of the custody order will come into play again – this is a process that happens generally when there is what is known as a “material change in circumstances.” A material change could be a parent neglecting a child, a parent having to move out of state, or a parent proving that he or she is the better caregiver over a period of time.
Idaho Father’s Rights
The concern about adequate father’s rights recognition and protection is a hot topic issue concerning the fair and equal treatment of fathers in Idaho family law courts. History has shown that it is typically mothers who are granted custody wins and fathers and their children suffer the consequences of not being able to spend enough time together. Father’s rights lawyers and advocates have been fighting to change the bias against men and it is working. In many cases, a father has as good a chance at winning the custody battle as a mother but fathers must prepare far in advance. This means father’s need to make themselves the primary caregiver for a child. This includes providing financial support, emotional support, handling bedtime, pickup and drop-offs at school or daycare, being present for school events, and other things. It also means avoiding the pitfalls that many fathers fall into that derail their case.
The Next Step
Getting educated on the laws that will govern your Idaho family law case is the most important first step. The next step is deciding if you need more Idaho family law help than a primer on the laws for your case. Reading the Domestic Relations statutes here is a good idea. Eve better than that though is how we can connect you – at no cost – to a local Idaho family law professional that can help you get the family law rights you deserve.