Divorce is a deeply personal, emotionally demanding experience. And while Idaho law allows couples seeking divorce to “do it yourself”, during such great personal stress, this is no time to go it alone.
If you are considering getting a divorce, you probably have a million questions and concerns plaguing you. Going through a divorce can be draining, financially challenging, and legally complex. We're here to help you with a few key considerations to keep in mind so you can stay focused during this difficult time.
Before you begin the complicated divorce process, let Meridian Law Group help you evaluate your case to see how our unique blend of legal strength and sound counsel can help you.
My spouse and I have talked about divorce, now what?
The immediate upheaval you will face after discussing divorce will likely be very difficult. The world will not stop simply because you are going through a divorce.
Before you file, you and your spouse should try to come to an agreement regarding temporary arrangements during the divorce. Things to think about include: living arrangements; access to accounts; bills; insurance coverage; household items; maintenance payments (commonly known as alimony); and, if you have children, parenting time and child support. It is best to put together a list ahead of time so that you are fully prepared. What is on your list will depend on your unique circumstances. If you and your spouse disagree regarding any issues, you can ask the court to enter temporary orders.
It is important to note that once proceedings begin, you and your spouse will be under an automatic order not to cancel, modify, terminate, or allow to lapse for nonpayment of premiums, any of the following that list you, your spouse, or your children as being covered or as a beneficiary: health insurance; homeowner’s or renter’s insurance; automobile insurance; or life insurance policies, unless fourteen days advance notice is provided to the other party and there is written consent from the other party or an order of the court.
Grounds For Divorce
While it may not be ideal to think of marriage as a contractual agreement, it's the truth, and it definitely matters when getting divorced. Sometimes, despite our best efforts, relationships fail, and we need to dissolve a marriage contract. Before the court can grant a divorce (terminate your contract), you must provide the judge with a legally acceptable reason (grounds) for your request.
Luckily, Idaho is both an at-fault and no-fault state.
No-fault state means that a court may grant a divorce based on “irreconcilable differences” between the spouses or on the fact that you've been separated from your spouse for at least five years; no other reasons for divorce are needed.
At-fault grounds for divorce include adultery, cruelty, neglect, felony conviction and/or addiction to drugs and alcohol. These grounds might also factor in to the judge’s decision about spousal support, child custody, division of property, etc.
Can I Get Divorced in Idaho? How Long Do I Have to Wait?
To file for divorce in Idaho, the person filing for divorce (known as the plaintiff or the petitioner) must have been a resident of the state for at least six full weeks. After the divorce papers are served on the other spouse, there’s a waiting period of at least 20 days before a judgment can be entered.
Can I Afford To Get Divorced?
When thinking about cost you should include total attorney’s fees, court costs, and other expenses, like hiring a real estate appraiser, tax advisor, child custody evaluator, or another expert. The total cost of your divorce will depend on numerous factors, especially how many issues you’ll need to resolve. If you and your spouse are on the same page on issues like child
custody, alimony, child support, and property division then you are likely to spend less money and time. It’s a similar story if you try to find out how long your divorce might take.
At Meridian Law Group, we understand couples facing the weight of divorce withstand worry, fear, anger, and stress every day. We also recognize that many facing divorce worry about the costs associated with divorce. For this reason, we work with you to develop a legal strategy that meets your financial needs and protects your rights and financial assets.
What can I do before filing to protect myself financially?
Find out as much information as you can about the family finances, savings accounts and insurance accounts before you file for divorce. Make sure that you will have access to credit, savings, and an income source.
Refrain from making any large purchases, such as a new car or a new home. If you received any gifts or inheritances during or before the marriage, or entered into the marriage with any property, put together documentation showing where each item came from, that way the property does not end up being treated as marital property. If you own a business, consider having a business valuation report prepared by a financial analyst. Email, social media, and separate bank accounts passwords should all be changed, taking care to use passwords that your spouse cannot easily guess.
Consider putting together a list of all marital property (furniture, appliances, jewelry, etc.) and marking the items you want to keep and the items you have to keep. Then, if you or your spouse moves from the marital home, you will have a list ready to review. This can make negotiations about who gets what, much easier. Try to be rational about what is important to you – you want to avoid arguments over things like who gets to keep season three of Breaking Bad. It also is a good idea to make a visual record of everything in the home. If you decide to make a tape, make sure to inventory the entire home – opening drawers and cupboards so the inside items are visible – and make sure the video is date stamped. Store your list and tape outside of the home.
Whatever you do, do not misuse any marital property. You are obligated to disclose all debts and assets during a divorce and if you misuse any marital property (e.g. go on a vacation with your new partner, or buy them jewelry) your spouse could use that as evidence against you in court in dividing up the assets and liabilities.
How is property divided in Idaho?
Idaho is a community property state. This means that any income earned by either spouse during the marriage, and all property bought with those earnings, are considered marital property that is owned equally by each spouse or partner. At divorce, the property is divided equally between the spouses or partners.
What are the rules about child custody in Idaho?
Like all states, Idaho courts begin with a presumption that it's best for a child to have frequent and continuing contact with both parents after a divorce. If possible, judges want to support joint custody arrangements. However, the exact nature of the time-share will be determined by the children's best interests.
What are the rules about child support in Idaho?
Like all states, Idaho requires both parents to support their children, even after a divorce. The amount of child support depends primarily on each parent's income and other resources, and how much time each parent spends with the children. In addition, sometimes the courts will "impute" income to a parent who has the capacity to earn more than he or she actually is earning.
Should I Hire An Attorney?
We know this sounds cliché but the question should be can you afford not to hire an attorney. If you have children, require child support, spousal maintenance, or own a home or other joint assets, a do-it-yourself divorce without the benefit of some legal counsel can be risky. Many couples who divorce without a lawyer eventually end up having to hire an attorney to renegotiate improperly structured separation agreements, parenting plans, or maintenance arrangements. The financial decisions you make today will impact you and your children for years to come.
Even if you ultimately decide not to hire an attorney, you should definitely consider talking to one. An experienced family law attorney will explain to you what you should expect and the considerations you should think about for your unique situation. Hiring a good family law attorney will, without a doubt, make the process of going through a divorce much less stressful.
If you have questions or want help with the next step, schedule a consultation with us today.