Making the decision to end your marriage or relationship is always a struggle, but the headache and stress can be exacerbated if there are children involved. A custody battle is never on anyone’s wish list, and it is crucial that you have an experienced, qualified legal professional on your side to help ensure that you have the advice and support that you need to handle the situation and move forward in the best way for you and your children. That is where we come in handy - we will work with you to prioritize the needs of you and your child, and do whatever we can to reduce the pain and anxiety of this difficult time.
All courts in Sun Valley and the state of Idaho will use a number of factors to help determine child custody - this is always based on the best interests of the child. Some of the key factors included in the decision are:
Wherever possible, courts will encourage parents to work together to establish the ideal custody arrangement, which can then be presented to the court for approval. By giving parents a greater choice, both parties are typically more satisfied, and these arrangements tend to be more successful.
In some situations, however, it is not possible or practical for parents to amicably agree on a custody arrangement. If this is the case. The court will step in to determine child custody. Any issues that arise in discussions of child custody will be handled by the Idaho Domestic Relations Law, and this provides the judge with the duty to make decisions regarding child custody that will offer the greatest benefit to the child or children involved. Wherever possible, judges will always begin their evaluation with the assumption that having both parents involved in the lives of their children is the most preferable option, unless the evidence or evaluation of the circumstances says otherwise. Wherever possible, joint custody will be awarded.
But to be clear, joint physical custody does not always mean 50/50. It simply means that both parents will receive some sort of visitation schedule which could be limited to one to two weekends per month. This is why it is so important to retain an experienced Sun Valley Child Custody Attorney to fight for your children and what you think is in their best interests.
Sun Valley, and Idaho state law, distinguish between two main types of custody when arrangements are being made: legal and physical custody.
Legal custody refers to the right to make decisions on the health, education, medical treatments, religious teaching and upbringing and general welfare and wellbeing of the child.
Physical custody, on the other hand, refers to the place where the child will reside. Parents may be awarded joint physical custody, joint legal custody, or a combination of custody arrangements, depending on the best needs and interests of the child or children involved, and the capabilities of one or both parents. Unless there is a serious motivation to rule otherwise, most courts will operate on the presumption that joint custody is in the best interests of the child.
When joint physical custody is awarded, the arrangement does not mean that the child will spend exactly the same amount of physical time with each parent. Instead, the agreement must be that each parent is entitled to a significant period of time with the child, and takes charge of their care. A visitation schedule will be drawn up during the custody arrangement, and this must demonstrate the way in which the time will be divided between each parent. For stability, many arrangements will see the child live primarily with one parent, and the other will be offered visitation rights - these must also be submitted for courts approval.
In situations where the custody arrangement has been made amicable and decided between the parents, then it is possible for the agreement to be changed after a request is made by the parents to the court.
If both parents agree to the changes for the modification, the parents can submit a stipulation for the modification to the court for its approval. However, in order for it to be accepted, the modification must still follow all of the court rules, case law, and the Idaho Child Support Guidelines. Even when both parents agree on every issue, it may be difficult to get the modification approved by the Court unless you get the help of an Idaho Child Custody Lawyer.
If, however, only one parent is requesting a change, then they must prove why the modification is necessary. High standards must be met, in order to ensure that the child has adequate stability, and is not disrupted for no real reason. The parent requesting the change in custody must show the court that there has been a permanent, substantial, and material change in custody.
Whether the change in circumstances meets the standard that the courts will require will depend, but sometimes, parties fail to meet this burden because of the rules requiring them to present evidence in certain way or missing deadlines to get the evidence into court. The rules that the parents must follow are long and complex.
Finding yourself in the middle of a child custody battle can be a challenge, and you will need a confident, trustworthy legal professional on your side. If you are facing a child custody case in Sun Valley, get in touch and see how we can help.
Our experienced child custody attorneys can help you get what’s best for you and your kids.