Idaho Divorce Basics

Learn the basics of filing for divorce in Idaho, including how child custody and child support are determined.

This article outlines the rules and procedures for getting a divorce in Idaho. If you have specific questions, you should speak to a family law attorney in your area.

Grounds for Divorce

Idaho allows spouses to allege the traditional fault-related grounds for divorce, which include:

  • adultery
  • extreme cruelty
  • willful desertion
  • willful neglect
  • habitual intemperance
  • conviction of a felony, or
  • when either the husband or wife has become permanently insane.

Couples in Idaho can also choose to base their divorce on the no-fault ground of "irreconcilable differences," which simply means the couple can't get along and there's no chance they will get back together. (ID ST § 32-6030.)

Residency Requirement

To file for divorce in Idaho, the person asking for the divorce (known as the plaintiff or the petitioner) must have been a resident of the state for at least six full weeks. (ID ST § 32-701.)

Property Division in Idaho

Idaho is a community property state, which means that unless there are compelling reasons to do otherwise, all of the assets and debts that the couple acquired during the marriage will be divided equally at divorce. Any property or debt that the parties had before getting married remains separate property of the original owner unless that person added the other spouse to title during the marriage. (ID ST § 32-712).

The court has different ways of dividing up the community property. The parties may sell and liquidate all of their assets and divide the money, or they may split up the different properties and debts based on the value of each item. In making these divisions, the court will look at a few factors, including

  • the duration of the marriage
  • whether there are any prenuptial agreements
  • each spouse's financial needs of each spouse
  • whether either spouse is being awarded maintenance (alimony)
  • the present and future earning capacities of each spouse, and
  • any retirement benefits either spouse is receiving.


The judge may order one party to pay alimony to the other, either in monthly payments or a lump sum amount. There are many factors that a judge would look at in setting the alimony amount and duration, including both spouses' earning abilities, the length of the marriage, and the financial resources of the spouse asking for alimony. (ID ST § 32-705).

Child Support

Child support is a payment made from one parent (typically the higher-earning parent) to the other parent to cover the basic necessities of life, like food, shelter, and clothing for the child. Courts strive to make sure that the child’s standard of living remains the same after divorce as it was during the marriage.

In Idaho, the court may order either or both parents owing a duty of support to a to pay an amount reasonable or necessary for his or her support and education until the child is 18 years of age. In deciding the amount, the court will consider all relevant factors including:

  • the child's financial resources, if any
  • both the custodial and noncustodial parents' financial resources, needs, and obligations (this usually excludes income or assets of a new spouse who is not the parent of the child being supported)
  • the standard of living enjoyed by the child during the marriage
  • the child's physical and emotional conditions and needs
  • the child's educational needs
  • the availability of medical coverage for the child, and
  • the tax benefit recognized by the parent claiming the federal child dependency exemption

(ID ST § 32-706).

Child support payments in Idaho are automatically withheld from the paying parent’s paycheck and are made to the Child Support Services of the Department of Health and Welfare. This way, there are consistent payments between the parents as well as a record of all payments. More information about child support in Idaho can be found on this website.

Child Custody

When deciding the legal and physical custody of a child, the court will need to determine what arrangement is in the child's best interests. In arriving at its decision, the court will consider several factors, including:

  • the wishes of the child's parent(s) as to custody
  • the interaction and interrelationship of the child with the child's parents and siblings
  • the child's adjustment to home, school, and community
  • the character and circumstances of all individuals involved, and
  • the need to promote continuity and stability in the child's life.

(ID ST § 32-717).

For more information about divorce and divorce-related issues in Idaho, contact a local family law attorney for advice.

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