Idaho child custody cases are never easy, and it is only natural for emotions to run high, tempers to be strained, and even the most amicable of splits can become hostile. Understanding the different types of child custody situations can help you to feel more in control of the situation, and put you in the driver’s seat. It is also important to ensure that you have a skilled, qualified legal professional on hand to help you tackle your situation – and this is where we can help.
Types of Child Custody Cases
There are two main types of recognized Idaho Child Custody Cases, and these are physical custody and legal custody. It is possible for a judge to award both physical and legal custody equally to both parents – known as “joint custody”, or for one parent to be granted sole legal or physical custody – the exact arrangement will depend on what is best for the child or children involved.
As the name suggests, physical custody refers to the place in which the child will reside, and the parent granted physical custody will often spend the most time with the child. It is important to note that joint physical custody does not automatically mean a 50/50 split – the needs and demands of the child and their lifestyle may necessitate a less even arrangement.
Legal custody, on the other hand, refers to the right of the parent to make major decisions in the life of the child in question. The parent with legal custody will be entitled to make decisions such as the school the child will attend, the type of medical care, surgery, and treatment that they can receive, and whether or not the child should follow specific religious teachings or faiths. Unless there is a good reason, it is common for judges to award shared or joine legal custody of a child.
Contested and Uncontested Child Custody
In the best-case scenarios, the parents are able to remain respectful and amicable during a split, and they will be able to keep their lines of communication open and clear. If this relationship is in place, then parents may be able to come to a mutual agreement about the parenting arrangements of their child, known as a parenting agreement. A mediator may also be used to reach an amicable decision. This is known as uncontested Idaho child custody case and, as long as both parents remain in agreement, there should be no reason to involve a judge or family courts.
In some cases, however, it is not possible for parents to reach a mutual agreement – this may be due to cases involving domestic violence, abandonment, substance abuse, or other issues from either parent. It may also be the case that parents cannot agree on a suitable custody arrangement. This is known as contested child custody and requires the parents to appear before a judge. It is then up to the judge to make a decision regarding the custody of the child, and this will always be in the best interests of the child. The judge will then set up a parenting agreement that needs to be adhered to by both parents.
How Do Judges Determine Idaho Child Custody Cases?
There are a number of factors that judges will take into account when determining custody, and these include:
- Any wishes that are expressed by the child as to their preferred custodian
- The wishes of both parents with regards to custody
- Whether there are any siblings and the relationship of the child in question with their siblings, and with their parents.
- How settled the child is in their home, their community, and their school
- The character and circumstances of all of the individuals involved in the case, including any history of violence or criminal records
- The best option to allow continuity and stability for the child
- Any history of substance abuse by either parent
- Any history of domestic violence
The judge will use these considerations, alongside any necessary or relevant information, and make a decision that is in the best interests of the child involved. Where one parent is awarded sole physical custody, a visitation order will also be put in place for the non-resident parent, and it is important that this is adhered to.
Can The Parenting Order Be Changed?
Any changes to a court-ordered parenting or visitation order will need to be approved by the court, and this can be achieved by filing an official petition to modify an existing support or custody order. In order for this to be approved, however, you will usually need to prove that there has been a “substantial and material change in circumstances” – this means a chance that is of significant impact to the parents or the child.
It is up to the parent filing the petition to request a change to prove that the change is in the best interests of the child, and possible reasons may include the relocation of one parent, a child reaching school age, or one parent no longer being in a position to care for the child. Changes will not be approved simply because they are not to the satisfaction of one parent – all changes will be made in the best interests of the child in question.
How Can We Help?
Finding yourself in the middle of a child custody battle is always difficult, and this can be exacerbated if you are also dealing with a painful and complicated break-up. Fortunately for you, our experienced team are on hand to assist you at each and every step of your journey, and will help to ensure that you are able to reach the best possible outcome for your family, and ensure ongoing support for your child. Get in touch today, and see how we can help.