The ending of any relationship is difficult, especially for married couples who decide they can no longer be together and file for divorce. For those couples who have been together for a number of years, having to separate their lives can be a trying process, and this emotionally charged time is only compounded when they also have to deal with deciding a custody arrangement for any children they share. The best interests of the children involved is always the top priority for Idaho court officials, even if that means going against the wishes or one or both of the parents.
Child Custody Laws in Idaho
In the state of Idaho, issues with child custody are handled by the Idaho Domestic Relations Law. Under these laws, the judge has the duty to make decisions in the child custody case that most benefit the children involved in the case. Even though every case is unique, a judge will always begin the evaluation of the circumstances under the idea that having both parents equally involved in the children’s lives will be of the highest benefit, which is why joint custody is a popular option.
Types of Child Custody in Idaho
Since having both parents equally involved in the children’s lives after the couple has ended their relationship is the first goal, Idaho family courts will always first complete an evaluation as to whether or not a joint custody arrangement will be feasible in the given situation. When making this evaluation, the judge will look at a number of different factors including, but not limited to, the ones outlined below:
- Have the parents already discussed or developed their own parenting plan for joint custody
- Is the geographical location of both parents workable into a joint custody arrangement
- Do the parents have a good enough relationship with one another to be able to effectively communicate and work together in the upbringing of the children
- Do the parents have the ability and willingness to foster a positive relationship between the children and the other parent
- Do either of the parents have any history of abuse that would be a cause for concern to have the children living with them for a period of time
Idaho Domestic Relations Law in Idaho
Under the Idaho Domestic Relations Law should the parents be unable to work out a joint custody agreement, the family court judge will make a decision that awards legal and physical custody. When making a determination on custody, the judge will always keep the best interest of the children in mind, which is a sometimes broad standard that allows the court a lot of flexibility with its decision making. Under Idaho law, a number of factors are required to be used in order to make a child custody determination – some of these factors include:
- Each parents’ desire to have custody of the children
- The desires of the children as to who will be their custodial parent
- The relationships between the children and each of their parents
- The children’s relationships with any siblings that may be in the custody of either parent
- The circumstances of each parent, including housing and employment
- Each parents’ ability to meet the children’s daily, mental, and physical needs
- Each parents’ fitness to be a primary provider
- The children’s involvement in the community and their relative schools
- Circumstances surrounding the children’s current home life
- Each parents’ ability to provide stability in the children’s lives
Based on this information, the judge will make a determination as to who will be the primary physical and legal custodial parent and which parent will receive visitation time as well as how much visitation time is granted. It is possible under Idaho law for a grandparent to gain primary custody of the children, but they are held to the same evaluation factors as the parents who are involved in the case – in simpler terms, the grandparent will be treated just like a parent in the family court system.
Child Custody Modification in Idaho
The state of Idaho does allow parents to request a modification to the child custody agreement. If both parents agree on the changes that need to be made, it is much easier for the court system to approve the modification as long as it is in the children’s best interest. If only one parent wants the modification, however, the burden of proving why the modification is necessary will reside with them – in simpler terms, they will be responsible for proving why a change to the child custody agreement is needed.
The standards that parents must meet in order to have their child custody modification approved are very high, and for good reason. It has been proven that constant changes conditions in a child’s life could be detrimental to their well-being, which is why Idaho family courts will only grant modifications that are absolutely necessary and that benefit the children involved. Some of the criteria the judge will look at when considering a child custody modification include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Why the request for modification is being made
- What significant changes in the parent’s or children’s lives have occurred since the child custody agreement was finalized
- In what ways the child custody modification will benefit the children
- If the benefits the children will see will outweigh the disturbances they will experience in their day to day schedule
Child Custody and Relocation in Idaho
Another reason why a parent may petition the family court after a child custody arrangement has been determined is if they are requesting permission for relocation – this is generally a larger issue when the custodial parent is wishing to move and relocate the children farther away from the non-custodial parent. Should both parents agree on the relocation, the request will simply be reviewed by the court and likely approved, which will make the change to the agreement legally binding.
Should the non-custodial parent contest the relocation, which is generally the case, the burden of proof as to why the relocation is needed and beneficial to the children will again lie with the custodial parent. A relocation, especially one that takes the children farther away from the other parent, can be very disrupting to their lives, which is why Idaho family courts will only grant relocation permission in the appropriate cases. When evaluating a relocation request, the judge will look at a number of different factors that include, but are not limited to, the following:
- The reason given for the relocation, such as a new job, better school systems, or the desire to be closer to immediate family members or a support system
- If the non-custodial parent is contesting the relocation and their reasons why
- The ages and genders of the children who will be relocated
- The outlined benefits of the relocation, including any improved educational, medical, or social opportunities for the children
- The relationship between the children and both the custodial and non-custodial parent
- The cost of alternative communication methods for the non-custodial parent to use to keep in touch with the children
Depending on the ages of the children, their desire to live with a specific parent