Child Custody


Parents in Idaho are presumed to have equal rights to their child whether they were married or not. But no two families are alike, and Boise family court judges have broad discretion to shape child custody arrangements according to the unique circumstances of each family. Whether you are getting divorced, or you were never married to your child’s other parent, you will need to decide how to share both legal and physical custody. Our Boise child custody attorney is experienced in drafting Parenting Plans and working through difficult child custody matters.

The difference between Legal and Physical Custody

Legal custody refers to the ability to make decisions on your child’s behalf. Typically, major decisions involve educational, health and medical, religious, and general welfare matters. In the majority of cases, the parents will share legal custody. Even if one parent has to move away from Boise, a Boise family court judge is unlikely to remove legal custody rights from that parent if they stay involved and in contact with their child. There are situations in which one parent is awarded sole legal custody of their child. If this happens, it does not mean the other parent will never see their child, and they will likely still have visitation rights. 

Physical custody refers to how much time your child spends with each parent. Idaho law favors time-sharing as equally as possible, but your Boise child custody attorney may recommend an agreement in which the child lives primarily with one parent and has visitation with the other parent. Your Parenting Plan should reflect your family’s individual circumstances and what works best for your child. 

If you were not married to your child’s other parent, an unwed mother has full legal and physical custody of her child until paternity is established either by voluntary acknowledgment or by a court. If you are an unwed father seeking legal custody of your child, a Boise child custody attorney can help you establish paternity through the court.

How do Idaho courts decide Parenting Time?

Your Parenting Plan will specify the allocation of parenting time between you and your child’s other parent. The schedule will take into account the distance between the parents’ homes, where the children attend school, and school breaks and holidays. If one parents lives in Boise and the other parent lives in Colorado, or if both parents live in Boise but one parent has an inflexible work schedule that requires significant travel, the Parenting Plan will reflect your reality.

However often your child moves between houses, equally shared time works better when both parents live in the greater Boise area, and it works best if they reside in the same school district. The further the distance between their homes, the less feasible equal time becomes. If one parent lives in central Boise and the other lives in Meridian, this is not as big an issue. But if one parent lives in Boise and the other parent lives in Idaho City, it may be less doable to have the child sleeping at the parent’s house in Idaho City if they have school in Boise at 8 A.M. the next morning. An every-other-weekend schedule, perhaps with weeknight dinners with that parent traveling to Boise, may work better if this is your family’s situation. Or, if the other parent is a plane ride away, the child may live with the custodial parent most of the school year but spend holidays and a portion of the summer with the further parent.

Child Support Law in Idaho

Child support in Idaho is based on the incomes of both parents and the number of children they have together. A child support order may also include the payment of health insurance premiums and unreimbursed medical expenses, school tuition, or fees for extracurricular activities. Work-related childcare expenses for young children in daycare or preschool are not covered by basic child support and may require an additional contribution. Either parent may request a modification of a child support order based upon an increase or decrease in income. To learn more about how child support works in Boise, call our office today at 208-900-6313 for a consultation with an experienced Boise child custody attorney.

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