How Do I File for Divorce in Idaho?

Learn about the forms and procedures required to file for divorce in Idaho.

Making the decision to get divorced isn’t easy. There are several steps you must take to file for divorce in Idaho. This article provides an overview of the divorce process in the Gem State.

Overview of Idaho Divorce

Idaho has one of the country’s shortest residency requirements. To file for divorce in Idaho, you or your spouse must have resided (lived) in the state for six weeks prior to filing the divorce complaint. If you’re the spouse filing for divorce (the petitioner), you’ll need to identify the reason (ground) that you’re seeking a divorce from the other spouse (the respondent). See Idaho Code Ann. § 32-701 (2019).

Idaho law allows both no-fault and fault-based divorce. In a no-fault divorce, you don’t have to prove that your spouse was at fault for, or caused, the divorce. Instead, you can cite irreconcilable differences, which means that you and your spouse simply can’t get along.

In a fault-based divorce, you will have to prove that your spouse engaged in some misconduct that led to the divorce. Idaho allows the following fault grounds:

  • adultery
  • extreme cruelty
  • willful desertion (one spouse must have lived apart for more than one year with the intention of abandoning the marriage)
  • willful neglect (husband's failure to provide his wife with the common necessaries of life for at least one year, due to his laziness or refusal to work)
  • habitual drunkenness for more than one year
  • felony conviction, and
  • permanent insanity (spouse must have been a resident of a mental institution for at least three years).

Idaho also allows a spouse to file for divorce if the couple has been separated and lived for at least five continuous years. See Idaho Code Ann. § 32-610 (2019).

Although filing for a no-fault divorce is usually the simplest process, there may be reasons you want to seek a fault-based divorce. In some cases, one spouse’s fault (such as adultery or cruelty) during the marriage can impact property division, child custody, or support awards in a divorce.

Preparing Your Forms

Whether you're handling your own divorce or using an attorney, you must file specific documents with the court. The majority of Idaho's family law forms are easily accessible from the Idaho Judicial Branch's Self-Help website. The Idaho Supreme Court has grouped forms into packets, so you can quickly download the forms you need for the type of domestic case you're filing. You can also download forms individually.

Keep in mind that the forms you will use will vary depending on where you live. For example, if you live in the Fourth Judicial District, which includes Ada, Boise, Elmore, and Valley Counties, you must use the family law forms specific to that district. Check with your local court clerk about your county's requirements.

To file for divorce without children in Idaho, you must submit the following forms:

  • Family Law Case Information Sheet
  • Petition for Divorce (No Children)
  • Summons with Orders
  • Affidavit of Service with Orders, and
  • Vital Statistics Form.

If you have children, you’ll need to file the following Idaho divorce forms:

  • Family Law Case Information Sheet
  • Petition for Divorce (With Children)
  • Summons with Orders
  • Affidavit of Service with Orders
  • Affidavit Verifying Income
  • Shared or Split Custody Worksheet or Standard Custody Worksheet
  • Parenting Plan, and
  • Vital Statistics Certificate of Divorce.

Filing Your Forms

After you have prepared all the necessary forms, file them with your local district clerk. The clerk will take the originals, along with your filing fee. If you can't afford the fee, you can ask the clerk about a fee waiver. A judge may agree to waive your filing fee if you meet the income requirements. You will keep one copy of the divorce papers for your personal records and serve the other on your spouse.

You and your spouse can reach an agreement and resolve your divorce at any time either through divorce mediation or on your own. If you reach a settlement agreement, make sure that you have resolved all potential issues in your divorce including dividing property and debts, custody and visitation of children, and alimony, if appropriate.

Idaho law requires parties to wait at least 20 days from filing before the court will grant a final entry of divorce. In Idaho, as in all other states, settling a divorce on your own can save you time, money, and frustration. If you can't reach an agreement, the case will proceed to trial, where the judge will decide all the issues in your case.

Serving Your Forms

Idaho law requires the filing spouse to complete "service of process" on the non-filing spouse. To serve the other side, you must use a sheriff, process server, or third-party over the age of 18 to deliver the divorce papers to your spouse.

After the process server has delivered the documents, he or she will send you an Affidavit of Service, listing the name and address of the person served, as well as the address where the documents were handed over. You must file this with the court to prove your documents were properly served. Alternatively, your spouse may agree to accept service of the divorce complaint. You would mail the complaint and summons to your spouse’s residence and your spouse would need to complete an Acceptance of Service for you to file with the court.

If you can't find your spouse, your spouse is in the military, or your spouse is in jail, different service rules may apply. Check with your local court clerk for information on serving divorce papers in these unique situations.

What Happens After My Spouse is Served?

Once service is complete, and the clerk receives your proof of service, the court can officially open your divorce case. You and your spouse can reach an agreement and resolve your divorce at any time, through divorce mediation or on your own.

If you reach a divorce settlement agreement, make sure that you have resolved all potential issues in your divorce including dividing property and debts, custody and visitation of children, and alimony if appropriate.

Idaho law requires parties to wait at least 20 days before the court will grant a final entry of divorce. In Idaho, as in all other states, settling a divorce out of court can save you time, money, and frustration. If you can't reach an agreement with your spouse, your case will proceed to trial, where the judge will decide all of your divorce-related issues.

References

If you still have questions about seeking a divorce in Idaho, you can contact Idaho Legal Aid or review Idaho’s Legal Services Directory. Idaho’s Legal Aid offers numerous divorce forms and information about the divorce process on its website.

Certain low-income individuals may also qualify for legal assistance through Legal Aid. You can call Idaho Legal Aid at 208-746-7541 for more information.

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