How Do I File for Divorce in Idaho?

Information about Idaho divorce, including were to file, what to file, and how to serve your spouse.

By , Attorney

Every state has its own rules and procedures for filing a divorce. Here's what you need to know to get started with your Idaho divorce.

Residency Requirements for Divorce in Idaho

You must meet a state's residency requirements before you can file for divorce in its courts. To get a divorce in Idaho, the plaintiff spouse (the one who files) must have been a resident of the state for six weeks immediately before filing. (Idaho Code. § 32-701 (2022).)

Where to File Your Divorce Case

It's important to file your divorce in the correct court—filing in the incorrect court could cause delays or dismissal of your divorce. In Idaho, you must file your divorce in the state district court in the county where your spouse (the "defendant") lives. If your spouse lives outside of Idaho, but you meet Idaho's residency requirements (see above), you can file in any county that's convenient for you. (Idaho Code § 5-404 (2022).)

The Grounds for Divorce in Idaho

Idaho allows both "no-fault" and "fault-based" divorces. A no-fault divorce is one in which the court doesn't require either spouse to prove that the other's bad acts were the cause of the divorce. In a fault-based divorce, one or both of the spouses must show that the other's actions caused (were "grounds for") the failure of the marriage.

No-Fault Grounds for Divorce in Idaho

No-fault divorces in Idaho reach resolution faster than fault-based divorces because the spouses don't have to argue about or prove who was responsible for the divorce. There are two no-fault grounds for divorce in Idaho:

  • irreconcilable differences and
  • living separate and apart for five years without cohabitation.

"Irreconcilable differences" are "grounds which are determined by the court to be substantial reasons for not continuing the marriage and which make it appear that the marriage should be dissolved." (Idaho Code § 32-610 (2022).) To claim this ground for divorce, you'll simply state in your petition that you and your spouse have irreconcilable differences. On the other hand, if you choose to divorce based on living separate and apart, you'll have to swear under oath (and perhaps show other evidence demonstrating) that you've lived apart for the required amount of time.

Fault-Based Grounds for Divorce in Idaho

In a fault-based divorce, one or both spouses will have to present evidence to the judge that proves that the other spouse's behavior caused the marriage to fail. Idaho has the following fault-based grounds for divorce:

  • adultery (Idaho Code § 32-604 (2022))
  • extreme cruelty (Idaho Code § 32-605 (2022))
  • willful desertion of at least a year (Idaho Code §§ 32-606, 32-609 (2022))
  • willful neglect for at least a year (Idaho Code §§ 32-607, 32-609 (2022))
  • habitual use of alcohol for at least a year (Idaho Code §§ 32-608, 32-609 (2022))
  • conviction of a felony (Idaho Code § 32-603 (2022)), and
  • permanent insanity (Idaho Code §§ 32-603, 32-801 through 32-805 (2022).

Because filing a fault-based divorce takes longer and is usually more contentious, most divorcing couples prefer to file no-fault divorces.

How to File for Divorce in Idaho

Generally, there are two types of divorce—uncontested and contested. An uncontested divorce is one where the spouses agree on all divorce-related matters, such as division of property, child custody, and alimony (spousal support). A contested divorce, on the other hand, is one where the spouses disagree on at least one topic and must ask a court to decide the issues in their divorce.

Uncontested divorces usually reach resolution faster and are less expensive than contested divorces because there's no fighting in court. Instead, the judge needs only to review and approve the spouses' marital settlement agreement and issue a divorce decree.

How to File an Uncontested Divorce in Idaho

To begin your Idaho uncontested divorce, you'll need to file a:

If you have minor children, you'll have to file additional paperwork relating to parenting classes, child support, and child custody. Most of these forms are available online or from the court clerk.

Complete the forms and bring the original and two copies to the court clerk for filing.

Divorce Filing Fees in Idaho

Along with filing the right paperwork, you'll have to pay court filing fees. The 2022 filing fee for divorce in Idaho is $207.

If you can't afford the filing fees, you can request a waiver by filing a Motion and Affidavit for Fee Waiver and prepare an Order RE: Fee Waiver for the court. If the court grants your motion, you won't have to pay any court fees or fees to have the local sheriff serve your spouse.

Serving Your Spouse in Idaho

After you file the paperwork, you'll need to provide notice to your spouse of the divorce by "serving" (delivering) copies of what was filed with the court. You can't serve your spouse yourself; you must have someone who's at least 18 years of age and not a party to the case do it.

Serving your spouse is easy when your spouse is cooperating: Have your spouse fill out an Acknowledgment of Service form and file the form with the court. When a spouse agrees to acknowledge service in this way, you don't have to formally serve them.

If your spouse isn't cooperating, you'll need to get a third party to serve the paperwork. You can hire the sheriff or a professional process server. Alternatively, you can get someone over 18 who isn't a party to the divorce to serve the documents. The person who serves your spouse must send you a completed Affidavit of Service, which you'll file with the court.

If you don't know where your spouse is, you might be able to serve the paperwork by publication. However, you must first make sincere attempts to locate your spouse, and you must get the court's permission to file by publication.

Required Waiting Period

Idaho courts can't grant a final divorce decree until at least 21 days after the filing and service of process. (Idaho Code § 32-716 (2022).)

Getting Help Filing Your Idaho Divorce

If you'd like to DIY your divorce, the Court Assistance Office of Idaho's judicial branch has a lot of helpful information online, including forms and instructions. Many local courts also have forms and information available online, or have help centers for people representing themselves (check to see if the center is open before heading to the courthouse).

If you're working with an attorney, your attorney will assess your situation and fill out, file, and serve all the necessary forms. Many divorcing couples can't afford to hire an attorney to handle their entire case, but would like some assistance with completing and filing their forms. If this describes your situation, consider using an online divorce service or finding an attorney who will consult with you on an as-needed basis. Low-income individuals might qualify for reduced-fee or free legal aid.

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