When your marriage breaks down, there are a number of challenges to tackle, both emotionally, as you deal with the fall out, practically, as you organise new living arrangements, and financially, as assets are divided and split. These challenges are only exacerbated when there is a child involved, and it is easy to become overwhelmed by your responsibilities. Navigating child custody is tricky, and it is important that you have a skilled, experienced legal professional on hand to help you advocate for yourself and your children, and ensure that the separation process is as smooth and painless as possible.
Idaho legislation determines that there are a number of different options when it comes to arranging child custody in the state, and this depends largely on the nature of the relationship that exists between the parents.
If the parents are on amicable terms, a parenting agreement may be set up, either between the parents themselves, or via a mediator. This sets out terms of custody, including where the child will live, the access or custody arrangements in place, and the rights and responsibilities of the parents. In some cases, however, the parents are unable to come to an amicable arrangement and custody is disputed. In this scenario, a judge will be required to make the custody decision, and this will be in the “best interests of the child”. They will consider a range of factors including:
Once the judge has had a chance to explore the evidence, they will issue a child custody order, which both parents will be required to adhere to. Depending on the unique circumstances and situations, the judge may opt for one of two options: single parent custody, or joint parent custody. Wherever possible, and in the best interests of the child, the judge will try to assign joint-parent custody, though this is not always possible. Ultimately, the decision of the judge will be based on the unique and individual circumstances before them.
In addition to deciding between joint and single custody, the judge will also need to determine the allocation of physical and legal custody.
Physical custody refers to the place in which the child lives - the parent awarded physical custody will spend a substantial amount of time with the child. Legal custody, on the other hand, describes the right of parents to make major decisions for the child, including the school they will attend, the medical care they will receive, and the religious beliefs they will follow. In the majority of cases, legal custody will be shared wherever possible - this may not be the case if the parents live far apart, or are not able to be amicable.
As with anything in life, it could be the case that your situation changes over time - this may mean that the details of your child custody order may need to be adjusted. Both parents have the right to request a modification at any time, and the course will schedule a hearing, allowing evidence to be heard. In most cases, however, a judge will not grant a modification or change unless a substantial amount of time has passed, or there has been a material change in circumstances. Ultimately, any changes will need to ensure the well-being of the child.
What Are Your Next Steps? If you find yourself facing a child custody battle, it is important that you arm yourself with reliable, trustworthy legal advice. Our team has extensive experience in tackling child custody and family cases, and will stand by your side every step of the way to ensure that you have the information and advice you need to make informed, smart choices, and secure the best possible outcome for you and your family. Get in touch today, and let us help you take those next steps.