Meridian ID Family Law Lawyer
Child Custody in Idaho Falls
Liveabout.com reported a survey done by Divorce Peers that concluded the majority of child custody cases are not decided by the courts. In a little more than half of all the child custody cases, both parents were in agreement that the mother should have physical custody of the children. In about 29 percent of the cases, the decision was made with no third-party involvement and only 11 percent of custody cases were decided during mediation.
When both parents made the decision with no involvement of the courts or a mediator, the mother received custody 83 percent of the time because the father chose to give her custody. That being said, there are plenty of child custody cases where the parents are locked in a custody fight, with both parents believing they deserve primary custody.
Idaho Divorce Law Firm - Justice For You When it Matters Most
At Idaho Divorce Law Firm, we are committed to fighting for the rights of our clients and ensuring that they can move on with their life feeling secure and confident. We offer a comprehensive approach and, thanks to our skills in both mediation and litigation, are able to handle even the most complex cases.
Whether you are facing a divorce, a legal separation, a complex custody battle, an adoption case, or any other family law case, our family law attorneys are here to guide you from start to finish.
Divorce, Legal Separation, or Annulment in Meridian, ID
If you are looking to leave your spouse in Idaho, then there are a few different options available to you. If you are unsure which is right for you, then you can seek advice in a free consultation and gain clarity on your next steps. Whichever option you decide is right for you, it is important to seek help from a divorce lawyer as soon as possible.
Divorce is the most common way for a married couple to separate. It terminates the marriage so that the couple is no longer legally married and cannot be undone.
Some couples decide on a legal separation, which allows them to separate and resolve issues such as child custody, spousal support, child support, and property division without legally ending their marriage.
Couples might decide to choose to legally separate instead of divorce due to religious reasons because they hope to reconcile the marriage at some point or to maintain health insurance.
Although the marriage has not legally ended, there are still important and life-changing decisions to be made. Therefore, it is still important to have legal representation to protect your interests.
A divorce is a legal end to a marriage, whereas an annulment is a declaration that two people were never legally married in the first place. There are six possible grounds for annulment, and even where one exists, it is often difficult to secure, as it is necessary to be able to provide strong proof of your claims.
The six possible grounds for annulment are:
- Either spouse was under 18 at the time of marriage, which is the age of consent in Idaho, and their parents did not consent on their behalf.
- One spouse was legally married to someone else when they remarried.
- Either spouse is of unsound mind.
- Either spouse consented to the marriage because of fraud.
- Either spouse consented to the marriage by force.
- When the couple married, either spouse was physically incapable of entering into the marriage, and the physical incapacity is ongoing and permanent.
Important Considerations When Separating From Your Spouse
Your divorce decree is a legally binding document that will have a big impact on your financial security and how often you see your children. Therefore, you should not settle without ensuring that everything possible has been done to protect your interests.
Some important things to consider when separating from your spouse include:
- Child Custody
- Property Division
- Child Support
- Spousal Support
When children are involved in a divorce, it is often highly emotional and complex. An experienced family law lawyer can mediate between you and your ex-partner, which will ensure that decisions are made which reflect your children’s best interests and that they are protected from conflict. Where this is not possible, your family law lawyer will also be prepared to fight for your parental rights in court.
In Idaho, there are two types of child custody, legal custody, and physical custody. If you have legal custody of a child, then you have the right to make important decisions on their behalf, such as where they receive medical care and what school they go to. Unless there is a reason why one parent could pose a danger to the child’s well-being, both parents will have legal custody.
Physical custody refers to the right to live and spend time with your child. Although both parents have a right to physical custody, unless there is a reason why one parent should not have access to their child, physical custody is more complex.
In Idaho, property falls into two categories: separate property and community property. Separate property includes all assets owned by either party prior to marriage and gifts and inheritance. Separate property belongs to each individual even after the marriage has ended.
Community property includes all other assets, including pensions, property, bank accounts, self-owned businesses, stocks and bonds, and anything else acquired over the duration of the marriage.
Idaho is a 50-50 state, which means that community property must be split equally upon divorce.
Property division is highly complex, and you need a family law attorney who will take the time to understand what is important to you and fight for a fair division that protects your interests.
Parents have assumed rights to their children unless it can be proven that they pose a danger to their children. They also have legal responsibilities, such as the responsibility to contribute financially to their children’s upbringing.
The parent who earns the most will usually pay child support to the other parent unless they are the custodial parent and therefore spend the majority of the time with the child.
Child support orders are legally binding, and failure to make payments can come with hefty consequences, such as wage garnishment, fines, and even possible jail time. Therefore, it is essential to ensure that payments are fair and in line with your earnings, expenses, and the child’s needs.
Spousal support or alimony is financial support that one spouse gives another after the marriage has ended. It is not awarded in every case and usually only if one party is not self-supporting and cannot maintain a standard of living without the support of the other.
The Divorce Process in Meridian, Idaho
A divorce attorney in Meridian, Idaho can guide you throughout all legal proceedings to ensure that your rights and interests are protected. The sooner, the better, as they can tailor their strategy and help everything to run as smoothly as possible. It also means that you can rest a little easier knowing that everything possible is being done for your case.
Divorce Requirements in Idaho
In order to qualify for divorce in Idaho, either spouse must have lived in the state for at least the last six weeks. It is also important to file for divorce in the correct county to avoid a dismissal of your divorce.
If you are the filing spouse, then you must file in the state district court in the county where your spouse lives. If your spouse does not live in Idaho, but you meet the residency requirements, then you can file in any county that is convenient for you, such as Meridian, ID.
Grounds For Divorce
Once you have determined whether you meet the criteria for divorce in Idaho, your next task is to decide what grounds you have for a divorce.
Most people file for a no-fault divorce which allows you to separate from your spouse on grounds that you have irreconcilable differences that prevent you from staying married. You can also file for a no-fault divorce if you have lived separately for five consecutive years or more. There is a very low burden of proof for a no-fault divorce which can help the process move forward more quickly in the beginning.
You can also file for an at-fault divorce, which blames one spouse for the end of the marriage. An at-fault divorce requires more evidence. However, that evidence may also serve a purpose throughout the divorce proceedings.For example, if you file for divorce on grounds that your partner has been violent towards you, then the Judge will consider this when determining child custody. Divorce attorneys can help you gather the evidence you need to file for an at-fault divorce.
Grounds for an at-fault divorce include:
- Domestic abuse, such as emotional and physical abuse.
- A felony conviction.
- Alcohol addiction.
Uncontested Divorce or Contested Divorce
Next, it is helpful to distinguish between uncontested and contested divorce. An uncontested divorce is faster and cheaper but is only possible if you and your ex-spouse agree on all issues. It is also only possible if you are filing for a no-fault divorce.
While it may be tempting to go for the quickest and cheapest option, you should make the decision to file for an uncontested divorce with great care. How matters such as child support, property division, and child custody are settled will impact the rest of your life. It is essential that you do not settle for less than you deserve. In general, uncontested divorces are only viable if a couple does not have children or significant assets.
On the other hand, a contested divorce acknowledges that you need some help coming to an agreement on the key issues of your divorce. Although the judge will make final decisions on your behalf if you cannot come to an agreement, they will expect you to work with a Meridian family law attorney first to try to come to decisions on your own using mediation. Mediation will also save you time and money on court proceedings and will allow you to come to personalized arrangements that work for you and your family.
Filing for an Idaho Divorce
Now that you know what type of divorce you need to file and where you will need to file the initial paperwork. There are a lot of legal documents involved in filing for divorce, and any mistakes could end up costing you time and money. Therefore, you should take care to ensure that everything is done correctly. If you have an experienced family law lawyer guiding you through the legal process, then they can help guide you.
If you do not have any children with your ex-spouse, then you will need to file The Petition for Divorce, a summons with orders, and a family law case information sheet.
If you do have children, then in addition to the documents listed above, you will also need to file A Petition for Divorce with Children, an income affidavit, a parenting plan, and standard or shared custody worksheets.
Negotiation and Settlement
Your family law attorney will guide mediation sessions where you and your ex-spouse can attempt to come to amicable agreements on the key issues of your divorce. While that may sound like an impossible task, many people are surprised by what they can accomplish with the help of an impartial third party who is trained in mediation.
If you and your ex-spouse cannot agree on any aspects of your divorce, then a judge will step in and make decisions based on the evidence they are provided, in line with Idaho family law. A different hearing will be required for each contested issue, which means waiting for the court to be free for each hearing and paying for the costs of court involvement. Therefore, a high-quality family law attorney will help you to limit court involvement where possible.
It is essential that your attorney is prepared to go to court if it is necessary in your case., If they lack litigation experience and your ex-spouse has an attorney who is a skilled litigator, then it could leave you vulnerable. Once everything has been settled, you and your ex-spouse will be served your divorce papers and will be legally separated.
Divorce Decree Modification
Although a divorce decree places legal obligations on both spouses, the law also recognizes that circumstances change, and sometimes decisions made in a divorce are no longer viable. It is, therefore, possible to file a motion for modification. Your attorney can help you provide the evidence necessary to show that there has been a “substantial and material change of circumstances” that justifies your modification.
You may modify spousal maintenance, child custody, or child support. Common reasons for modification include job loss, decrease or increase in income, relocation, illness, or changing needs of the child.
If your ex-spouse repeatedly fails to meet the obligations placed upon them in your divorce decree, then your family law attorney can help you hold them guilty of contempt. The court will then take action to get you what you deserve.
For example, if they have missed child support payments, then the judge can garnish their wages or their tax return, issue a fine, or even threaten a jail sentence if they continue to non-comply. It is important that you speak with an attorney and do not try to punish them yourself. If you refuse visitation because of missed payments, then you will also be guilty of not complying with your divorce decree.