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Idaho Child Custody
Child Custody in Idaho

In Idaho, "the court may award either joint physical custody or joint legal custody or shared custody based on the court's determination of the best interests of the child or children."

Best Interests of the Child

The primary consideration in child custody arrangements is the best interests of the child. In order to do so, Idaho child custody laws set factors to be considered by the court in verifying if joint custody is applicable over any other type of custody. All pertinent information shall be examined, including the child's preferences, the parents' capability for childrearing, and home dynamics.

The judge considers all factors he or she believes relevant, such as the wishes of the child or parents, the relationship of the child with parents or siblings, the need for stability in the child's life and any domestic violence in the family.

Custody may be joint physical custody, shared custody, or joint legal custody, depending on the court's ruling. The courts try to minimize the emotional impact of parental arrangements on children with divorcing parents.

Idaho courts encourage divorcing parents to work out a plan on raising their child after divorce or separation. Parents should develop a parenting agreement on their own determinations because parental concern indicates that the welfare of the child is ensured. When parents do not agree on such terms, the court decides custody, support, and parental visitation rights.

Court Considerations

Child custody laws in Idaho set factors the court considers including:

  • the child's wishes or preferences, provided that he or she is of sufficient age or mature enough to make such claims
  • the child's capability to make adjustment to his or her home, school, and community;
  • the child's relationship with his or her parents and siblings;
  • the child's need to have stability in life and continuity of interaction with his or her parents;
  • the parents' wishes or preferences on custodianship;
  • the parents' mental and physical health and moral character;
  • the history of domestic violence or child abuse by either parent; and
  • the problems a parental disability, if any, might pose in child care;

The Idaho statutes on awarding child custody contain lengthy provisions about disability. They define disabilities of parents and forbid any discrimination on the basis of disability. The court makes a decision on the disabled parent's fitness for parental duties based on evaluations performed or assisted by an expert.

Joint Custody Preference

Idaho law expresses a preference for parents to share as equally as possible in the custody of a child in a divorce case. In many, if not most, situations, joint custody is preferred since both parents share the rights and responsibility of raising the child. Also, this type of custody encourages parental cooperation in childrearing. However, this may not always be possible especially if the child's well-being is at risk with one of the parents.

In Idaho, courts can award joint physical and/or joint legal custody. When joint physical custody is in force, the child takes turns living with both parents. In joint legal custody both parents make decisions regarding the child.

Unless there are extenuating circumstances, Idaho is one of the 35 states whose court system favors awarding joint custody to parents after a divorce. Idaho courts may award either joint physical custody, joint legal custody or both.

Both parents receive records and information relating to, but not limited to, medical and dental issues, health and education records.

Third Party Custody

In some cases, a third party, or someone other than a child's biological parents, will try to gain custody of a child. The judge, at his discretion, may consider a grandparent to have the same standing in court as a parent when deciding what custody arrangement is in the best interest of the child, according to the Idaho Statutes, Section 32-717(3).

Parental Conduct

In addition to finding a parent unfit because of substance abuse or abuse or neglect towards a child, the courts also consider the conduct of both parents during the course of the marriage, and the impact of parental behavior on the child. The court considers the need for stability and any history of domestic violence, particularly if it was committed in the presence of the child.


The Idaho courts have full discretion when determining visitation between children and parents. The courts can establish visitation between one or more parent, even if both parents agreed upon a no-visitation policy.

The court determines the amount of time a child spends with each parent. Just because the parents share joint physical and/or legal custody does not mean that the child spends an equal amount of time with each parent. The court considers the wishes of the parents and children in determining visitation time.

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