Personal family troubles can easily become some of the most stressful challenges in life. Trying to navigate such issues alone is often overwhelming. At Boise Family Law, we understand the troubles and concerns you might have at such a time, and we work our very best to help secure the best possible outcome for your family.
From simple things like name changes to complex ones like contested divorces, we handle even the most complex of cases involving family law. An experienced family law attorney in Boise will work tirelessly to make sure that your family and parental rights are protected. We serve families all around the state of Idaho. Get in touch with us today to learn more about how we can help.
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What Qualifies as a Family Law Case?
The unfortunate thing about life is that it doesn’t always turn out as we hope or expect. Family law issues like child custody and divorce can be difficult to handle, even in the best of circumstances. Working with an experienced family law attorney in Boise, Idaho can make the whole process much easier to deal with.
Legal issues involving family members or spouses can be some of the most difficult to solve, and could leave you feeling emotionally battered, not to mention financially frustrated. Having a compassionate and knowledgeable legal advocate by your side could make a huge difference.
Family legal issues fall under civil law, though they generally involve issues affecting the spouses, children, and parents. Family courts usually handle a variety of cases that involve domestic matters. Some of the most common issues that are handled in the family court include:
Divorce/ Marriage Dissolution
When a spouse wants to end a marriage, they can file a case in the family court to ask the court to end the marriage. Marriages can be dissolved through annulment or divorce cases. The court can also grant separation, in which case the court issues an order regarding child custody, alimony, and property, and the couple remains legally married.
Child Custody and Paternity Cases
When a man wants to be declared the legal father of a child, either parent may file a case seeking the court to establish paternity. This would permanently establish the father of the child. An unmarried parent could ask the court to order for legal custody, visitation schedules, physical custody, and child support.
A victim of domestic violence can go to the family court seeking a protection order against domestic violence to keep the abuser away.
A family member can legally change their name in a family court through a name change case.
This involves establishing who should be responsible for the personal, medical, and financial decisions over a child or adult who is unable to care for themselves.
Adoptions and Termination of Parental Rights
In case there are serious reasons why a parent should be denied a parental relationship with a child, such as abuse, neglect, abandonment, etc., the family court could terminate the rights of the parent. In case someone else is looking to become a legal parent of the child, the family court could grant an adoption to legally create a parent-child relationship.
The family court also oversees issues involving allegations of child abuse, neglect, or whenever a minor is accused of engaging in illegal behaviors. Such matters are mainly handled by the District Attorney Juvenile Division. The family court is also tasked with approving work permits for minors that are under the age of 14.
Approval and Emancipation of Underage Marriages
People under the age of 18 who want to be “emancipated” (legally free from the control of their parents) or marry can petition the family court for approval.
Other common issues handled under family law include:
- Child custody
- Visitation rights
- Father’s rights and grandparent’s rights
- Child support payments
- Termination of parental rights
- Alimony & spousal support
- Civil protection orders
- Domestic violence
- LBGT family law
- Prenuptial agreements
What Are Grounds for Divorce in Idaho?
Grounds are the different reasons legally accepted for divorce. You can get a divorce in Idaho without alleging your spouse is at fault if:
· You allege that you and your spouse have irreconcilable differences. This means that you and your spouse have some differences that cannot be changed and these have led to the breakdown of your marriage. You need to demonstrate to the judge that there are credible reasons why your marriage should end: alternatively
· You can prove that you and your spouse have continuously lived apart or in different homes for at least 5 years
In Idaho, the judge may also grant you a divorce if you allege that your spouse was responsible for the divorce for any of the following reasons:
- Adultery: Where your spouse had sexual relations with someone else after you got married.
- Willful desertion: Your spouse left the marriage with no plan of coming back for at least a year.
- Extreme cruelty: Your spouse hurts you physically or causes you serious psychological or mental suffering.
- Willful neglect: Your husband refuses to provide adequate financial support for you for at least one year, even if he is able to. Note that the law states “husband,” not spouse.
- Conviction of a felony: Where your spouse is convicted of a felony.
- Habitual intemperance: Where for at least one year, your spouse is regularly so intoxicated that they can’t engage in normal activities, and their intoxication causes you great psychological or mental suffering.
How Do You Start the Divorce Process?
The divorce process can be complicated but a skilled family law attorney in Boise, Idaho can guide you at each step.
Requirements & Filing
To successfully file for divorce in Idaho, you or your spouse must have lived in the state for 6 weeks before filing the complaint. If you’re the petitioner (the spouse filing for divorce), you will have to outline the grounds for which you’re seeking a divorce from the respondent (the other spouse).
Once you meet the residency requirements, you can officially file the divorce. Every case will be different, though there are some common processes that all divorces follow in Idaho. The first thing you will have to decide is what kind of divorce you are looking to pursue – contested or uncontested divorce.
A contested divorce means you and your spouse are unable to come to an agreement about one or more issues related to your divorce. These issues are usually about alimony, child custody, or how your assets are divided. However, it could be just about anything related to your case.
An uncontested divorce means that you and your spouse are in agreement on all of the issues related to your divorce, meaning that your divorce can proceed as quickly as possible, thereby saving time and money for both of you.
Forms, Filing Fee
The next step is preparing and filing the necessary forms at the local courthouse. The exact forms you need to file will depend on whether children are involved or not. At a minimum, you deed to file the following:
- Petition for Divorce
- Family law case information sheet
- Summons with orders
- Vital statistics form
- Affidavit or service with orders
If children are involved, you will also need to file:
- Affidavit verifying income
- Petition for divorce (with children)
- Standard custody worksheet or Shared/Split Custody worksheet
- Parenting Plan
- Vital statistics certificate of divorce
You will also need to pay a filing fee, which can be waived in some cases. Plus, after filing the paperwork, you need to officially notify your spouse about your intention to divorce them by serving him/her proof of service.
Settlement or Litigation and Division of Assets
Once the court receives some kind of proof that a service was completed, your case will be opened and you can move forward with either trying to settle your issues or preparing for litigation.
To make sure that your assets are divided equally, you need to exchange financial disclosure information, which should ideally list your assets, income, expenses, debts, and other pertinent financial information.
In case you’re unable to reach an agreement and you present a settlement to the court, you will have to go to trial where a judge will see your evidence and hear your testimony, and then make a ruling on your divorce-related issues.
Some Things to Keep in Mind When Filing a Divorce in Idaho
Once you file the papers, there’s a minimum 20-days waiting period before a divorce is finalized. It assumes that all of the issues between you and your spouse have been resolved, and that you’re pursuing an uncontested divorce.
In some instances, bifurcated divorces are allowed – these break the divorce action into two distinct actions, which allows the majority of issues to be settled immediately. The court can then retain jurisdiction over the remaining issues until they get resolved.
The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare is responsible for administering the child support program of the state. State and Federal agencies support the efforts of the state to ensure child support is paid. Alimony might also be awarded, based on a number of factors, at the sole discretion of the court.
How Does the Division of Property Work in Idaho?
Idaho is one of the few community property states. This alludes to the fact that any property acquired during the marriage is equally split. The exceptions to this are any gifts and inheritances specifically awarded to one spouse only.
Before any assets are divided, a determination must be made to identify marital property and separate property. Assets acquired before the marriage, after a divorce is finalized, or after legal separation are considered separate property. Sometimes, a spouse might accidentally change separate property into marital property, such as by depositing money into a joint bank account.
As a couple, you can create a post-nuptial or prenuptial agreement to identify separate property. Some assets are generally considered marital and others separate property. For instance, assets that were already in a retirement account before entering a marriage can be considered separate, while deposits made after the fact are considered marital.
Since Idaho is a community property state:
There will be a substantially equal division in the value of assets while accounting for the debts between the spouses unless there are compelling reasons otherwise.
Any factors bear upon whether a division will be equal and the way the division is handled, will include (but not limited to):
- Duration of the marriage
- Any antenuptial or prenuptial agreements
- The health, age, vocational skills, source and amount of income, occupation, employability, and liability of each spouse
- Whether a spouse is awarded property instead of alimony
- The needs of each spouse
- The current and potential earning capacity of each spouse
- Retirement benefits, including civil service, social security, railroad, and military retirement benefits
The law ideally provides that the family court will account for all the relevant factors and establish the property distribution as equal as possible. Nonetheless, it’s worth noting that the distribution of property in a divorce is not always “equal.” As such, to get the best possible results, you will want to have an attorney by your side to avoid ending up with the wrong end of the stick.
How is Child Custody Decided?
The family court will have to decide both the legal and physical custody in a divorce case. Physical custody established which parent the child will live with following the divorce. On the other hand, legal custody grants the decision-making power over certain important elements after the divorce. In many cases, joint legal and physical custody are awarded.
The court will mostly want to rule in the best interest of the child. There are a few factors that the court will consider when making this determination:
- The preferences and wishes of the child. This is usually reserved for older children who demonstrate adequate maturity to provide a sober input
- The ability of the child to make adjustments in their school, home, and community
- The relationship of the child with their siblings and parents
- The need for stability in the child’s life
- The mental, moral, emotional, and physical health of the parents
- Any parental disabilities that could end up hindering care
- Any history of substance abuse or domestic violence by either parent
In certain cases, custody could be awarded to other members of the family in case neither parent demonstrates a capacity to safely perform their duties as a parent
The Idaho family court will have full discretion in choosing how visitation and custody issues will be handled, and there are no automatic assumptions that the time spent with either parent will be equal.
Keep in mind that the court will account for all the factors to determine what is in the best interest of the child. Custody issues are often complex and delicate, as they involve making decisions and taking actions that will affect the child for the rest of their lives. That’s why it’s always recommended to work with an experienced family law lawyer when tackling child custody issues.
Boise Family law will be there for you every step of the way and guide you to get the best results possible for you and your child.
What is Alimony and How is it Decided?
Alimony, referred to as maintenance in Idaho, is the financial support paid to, or by your spouse. Alimony is usually awarded to the spouse who is unable to support themselves during or after the divorce.
The family courts may award temporary, long-term, or short-term maintenance. Temporary maintenance is often awarded while the divorce is still ongoing. Short-term maintenance is meant to help a spouse become self-supporting, while long-term maintenance is meant for long-term marriages where a spouse stays home in order to take care of family members.
There are a number of factors that the court will take into account when determining spousal maintenance:
- The financial resources the spouse requesting alimony has
- The amount of time needed to acquire sufficient education and training for this party to find employment
- The length of the marriage
- The physical and emotional condition and the age of the spouse seeking maintenance
- Any tax repercussions
- The ability of the paying spouse to meet their own needs while paying for maintenance
- The marital fault of every party
Once maintenance is awarded, you can seek for the court to change the order if there’s significant and material change in circumstances. Any changes made to this order will then apply to future payments.
Contact an Expert Family Law Attorney in Boise
Having a knowledgeable Idaho family lawyer on your side who is ready to represent your best interests and can take on the most contentious and challenging of cases is key to success. You want to work with a lawyer who is experienced in ensuring a balanced and fair distribution of assets in a divorce, skillfully negotiating child custody agreements, preparing pre-nuptial and post-nuptial agreements, and one who has dealt with countless complicated divorce procedures.
This will help ensure that you can trust the guidance and advice they provide, as the decisions you make during this time will likely follow you for the rest of your life. Having an experienced family law attorney you can trust and is committed to providing uncompromised protection and fighting for your rights can completely change the outcome of your family law issue. Get in touch with Boise Family Law today and learn more about how we can help with your family law issue.