How to File a Divorce in Idaho

How to File a Divorce in Idaho

by Edward A. Haman, Esq., July 2015

Getting divorced in Idaho is similar to getting divorced in most other states. A divorce for any married couple will accomplish two things: (1) severing the marital relationship, and (2) dividing assets and debts. If they have been married for a significant length of time and one of them will be unable to be self-supporting after the divorce, the issue of alimony may also arise. If there are minor children, they will also need to resolve issues of child custody, visitation, and support.

Residency and Where to File

In order to file for divorce in Idaho, the person filing must be a resident of Idaho for at least six weeks. Compared with other states, this is one of the shortest residency requirements. If you are filing, and your spouse lives in Idaho, you will file in the District Court in the county where your spouse lives. If your spouse does not live in Idaho, you will file in the county where you live.

Procedures

The most simple procedure is for an uncontested divorce. This is where you and your spouse can reach an agreement about the division of your property, and, if you have any children, what arrangements will be made for them. You begin the divorce procedure by preparing a document called a Complaint for Divorce, along with various other supporting documents. For an uncontested divorce, one of these documents will be a marital settlement agreement outlining the division of assets (and your agreement regarding any children). These documents are filed with the court, and copies of them are provided to your spouse. You will attend a court hearing, at which time the judge will make sure that all of your paperwork is in order, perhaps ask you a few questions, and enter your Decree of Divorce.   

Grounds for Divorce

Grounds for divorce are legally recognized reasons to get a divorce. This is the justification for severing the marital relationship. Idaho, like most states, has what are commonly called no-fault grounds for divorce, and several traditional fault-based grounds. For a no-fault divorce in Idaho you need to state in the Complaint for Divorce that “the parties have irreconcilable differences.”

There are also numerous fault-based grounds for divorce: adultery, extreme cruelty, wilful desertion, wilful neglect, habitual intemperance, conviction of a felony, and permanent insanity. However, in most cases, there is no reason to use any of these, since they add complexity to the process by requiring proof.

Property Division

A divorce involves dividing property and debts between you and your spouse. Generally, you will be able to keep your separate property, which is any property that you owned before you got married, that you acquired at any time from a gift or inheritance, or is proceeds from separate property, or was acquired with proceeds from separate property. All other property acquired, and debts incurred, during the marriage are considered community property. Generally, community property will be divided equally, however, the judge may consider the following factors in deciding how to divide the community property:

  • duration of the marriage,
  • any prenuptial agreement (but the court cannot amend or rescind the agreement),
  • each party’s age, health, occupation, amount and source of income, vocational skills, employability, and liabilities,
  • each party’s needs,
  • whether the apportionment is in lieu of, or in addition to, alimony (called maintenance),
  • each party’s present and potential earning capability, and
  • any retirement benefits, including social security.

Alimony in Idaho

Alimony is called maintenance in Idaho. Maintenance is only awarded if the party seeking it does not have sufficient property or income to be self-supporting. According to Idaho divorce law, to determine the amount and duration of maintenance, the judge must consider:

  • the financial resources of the party seeking maintenance, including the marital property awarded to that party, and the ability to meet his or her needs independently,
  • the time necessary for the party seeking maintenance to acquire sufficient education and training to enable him or her to find employment,
  • the duration of the marriage,
  • the age and the physical and emotional condition of the party seeking maintenance,
  • the ability of the party from whom maintenance is sought to meet his or her own needs while paying maintenance,
  • the tax consequences to each party,
  • the fault of either party, and
  • any other relevant factor.

Child Custody in Idaho

If you and your spouse have any minor children, there will have to be a custody determination. It comes down to figuring out how the children’s time will be divided between the parents, and how decisions will be made. Idaho child custody law favors joint custody, which means “significant periods of time in which a child resides with or is under the care and supervision of each of the parents,” and both parents sharing the responsibility and authority to make decisions regarding the child’s welfare. To arrive at a specific custody order, the judge may consider:

  • the wishes of each party,
  • the wishes of the child,
  • the relationship of the child with his or her parents and siblings,
  • the child's adjustment to home, school, and community,
  • the character and circumstances of all individuals involved,
  • the need to promote continuity and stability in the child’s life,
  • any domestic violence, even if not in the child’s presence, and
  • any other relevant factor.

Child Support in Idaho

A decision must also be made about how the children will be financially supported. This almost always comes down to one parent paying money to the other. Child support is determined by reference to the Idaho Child Support Guidelines produced by the Idaho Supreme Court.

Miscellaneous Matters

There is no provision to have a maiden or former name restored. If you wish to use a former name, you will need to go through a separate name change court procedure. Getting divorced in Idaho is similar to getting divorced in most other states. A divorce for any married couple will accomplish two things: (1) severing the marital relationship, and (2) dividing assets and debts. If they have been married for a significant length of time and one of them will be unable to be self-supporting after the divorce, the issue of alimony may also arise. If there are minor children, they will also need to resolve issues of child custody, visitation, and support.

Residency and Where to File

In order to file for divorce in Idaho, the person filing must be a resident of Idaho for at least six weeks. Compared with other states, this is one of the shortest residency requirements. If you are filing, and your spouse lives in Idaho, you will file in the District Court in the county where your spouse lives. If your spouse does not live in Idaho, you will file in the county where you live.

Procedures

The most simple procedure is for an uncontested divorce. This is where you and your spouse can reach an agreement about the division of your property, and, if you have any children, what arrangements will be made for them. You begin the divorce procedure by preparing a document called a Complaint for Divorce, along with various other supporting documents. For an uncontested divorce, one of these documents will be a marital settlement agreement outlining the division of assets (and your agreement regarding any children). These documents are filed with the court, and copies of them are provided to your spouse. You will attend a court hearing, at which time the judge will make sure that all of your paperwork is in order, perhaps ask you a few questions, and enter your Decree of Divorce.   

Grounds for Divorce

Grounds for divorce are legally recognized reasons to get a divorce. This is the justification for severing the marital relationship. Idaho, like most states, has what are commonly called no-fault grounds for divorce, and several traditional fault-based grounds. For a no-fault divorce in Idaho you need to state in the Complaint for Divorce that “the parties have irreconcilable differences.”

There are also numerous fault-based grounds for divorce: adultery, extreme cruelty, wilful desertion, wilful neglect, habitual intemperance, conviction of a felony, and permanent insanity. However, in most cases, there is no reason to use any of these, since they add complexity to the process by requiring proof.

Property Division

A divorce involves dividing property and debts between you and your spouse. Generally, you will be able to keep your separate property, which is any property that you owned before you got married, that you acquired at any time from a gift or inheritance, or is proceeds from separate property, or was acquired with proceeds from separate property. All other property acquired, and debts incurred, during the marriage are considered community property. Generally, community property will be divided equally, however, the judge may consider the following factors in deciding how to divide the community property:

  • duration of the marriage,
  • any prenuptial agreement (but the court cannot amend or rescind the agreement),
  • each party’s age, health, occupation, amount and source of income, vocational skills, employability, and liabilities,
  • each party’s needs,
  • whether the apportionment is in lieu of, or in addition to, alimony (called maintenance),
  • each party’s present and potential earning capability, and
  • any retirement benefits, including social security.

Alimony in Idaho

Alimony is called maintenance in Idaho. Maintenance is only awarded if the party seeking it does not have sufficient property or income to be self-supporting. According to Idaho divorce law, to determine the amount and duration of maintenance, the judge must consider:

  • the financial resources of the party seeking maintenance, including the marital property awarded to that party, and the ability to meet his or her needs independently,
  • the time necessary for the party seeking maintenance to acquire sufficient education and training to enable him or her to find employment,
  • the duration of the marriage,
  • the age and the physical and emotional condition of the party seeking maintenance,
  • the ability of the party from whom maintenance is sought to meet his or her own needs while paying maintenance,
  • the tax consequences to each party,
  • the fault of either party, and
  • any other relevant factor.

Child Custody in Idaho

If you and your spouse have any minor children, there will have to be a custody determination. It comes down to figuring out how the children’s time will be divided between the parents, and how decisions will be made. Idaho child custody law favors joint custody, which means “significant periods of time in which a child resides with or is under the care and supervision of each of the parents,” and both parents sharing the responsibility and authority to make decisions regarding the child’s welfare. To arrive at a specific custody order, the judge may consider:

  • the wishes of each party,
  • the wishes of the child,
  • the relationship of the child with his or her parents and siblings,
  • the child's adjustment to home, school, and community,
  • the character and circumstances of all individuals involved,
  • the need to promote continuity and stability in the child’s life,
  • any domestic violence, even if not in the child’s presence, and
  • any other relevant factor.

Child Support in Idaho

A decision must also be made about how the children will be financially supported. This almost always comes down to one parent paying money to the other. Child support is determined by reference to the Idaho Child Support Guidelines produced by the Idaho Supreme Court.

Miscellaneous Matters

There is no provision to have a maiden or former name restored. If you wish to use a former name, you will need to go through a separate name change court procedure.

If you and your spouse agree on the major issues, an uncontested divorce may be right for you. Otherwise, you can talk to an attorney to get advice or help filing for divorce with the LegalZoom personal legal plan.