Guide to Child Custody Laws in Idaho
Dividing parental responsibilities can be stressful and difficult for divorcing parents. If you are an Idaho parent involved in a child custody dispute, you owe it to yourself and your child to have a solid understanding of child custody laws in Idaho. This guide can help by giving you a brief overview of the types of custody arrangements available to Idaho parents as well as the methods by which parents may arrive at these arrangements. After reading this guide, you will have a better understanding of the child custody laws in Idaho and be better able to seek custody in your case.
Can Children Decide?
Some states allow children over a certain age (generally older teenagers) to decide for themselves which parent to live with. Others prefer that children do not have to make a choice between parents. Child custody laws in Idaho are somewhere in between: a child's wishes are taken into account as a factor in the determination of child custody whenever the child seems like they are making a reasoned decision.
There is no exact age limit that governs when a child's wishes should be listened to. Judges are allowed to make their own determinations. Child custody laws in Idaho do not allow children to make a unilateral decision about what parent to live with until the child attains the age of majority at 18.
Parenting Plans and Mediation
Many parents recognize that a long legal battle would be bad for their children. Because of this, they may prefer to come to an agreement by negotiating the division of their parental responsibilities. Child custody laws in Idaho recognize the right of parents to develop a parenting plan that is agreeable to both parents and in the best interest of the child.
Parents who cannot agree on some aspect of child custody may want to go to mediation, which allows an inexpensive and informal way to resolve disputes without the involvement of a judge. The mediator will help keep parents on track to reach an agreement and keep non-constructive arguments from happening. Child custody laws in Idaho require the court to sign off on all parenting plans, but as long as the plan seems to be in the best interest of the child, judges will generally approve it.
Types of Custody
There are several types of custody available to Idaho parents. Legal custody refers to the ability of parents to make major decisions on behalf of their child, such as decisions about recreation, school, healthcare, and religion. Child custody laws in Idaho have an explicit preference for parents to be given joint legal custody, in which both share responsibility for decision-making about their child.
Not all parents with joint legal custody will have shared physical custody, but generally both parents will be allowed physical access to their children. Sometimes, this will take place on a standard visitation schedule, while other parents may want to divide their parenting time more equally.
If one parent is extremely uncooperative or has no desire to see his or her children, the court may grant sole custody to one parent. If this happens, the non-custodial parent may still have some visitation, but will no longer have a legal right to be involved in the decision-making process for their child.