Divorce Laws in Idaho

Divorce Laws in Idaho

If you need to get up to speed on the divorce laws in Idaho, you’ve come to the right place.

In a nutshell, there are four “buckets” that may need to be addressed in your divorce:

  1. Dividing Assets and Debts
  2. Alimony
  3. Child Support
  4. Child Custody

This guide provides an overview of the laws on all that and more. Let’s get started.

What are the basic divorce laws in Idaho?

Idaho allows for both no-fault or fault-based divorce.  You must cite specific grounds in a fault-based divorce, such as adultery, abandonment, cruelty, felony conviction, and others.  Legal separations and annulments are also allowed, as long as you meet the criteria for those actions.

The state has one of the shortest residency requirements in the nation.  You only need to have lived in Idaho for six weeks prior to filing for divorce.  Filing fees cost $137 when you do file but if you can prove you have low income, those fees may be waived.

After you file, there is a minimum 20-day waiting period before a divorce can be finalized.  This assumes all issues have been resolved between you and your spouse and you are seeking an uncontested divorce.

Bifurcated divorces are also allowed in some instances.  A bifurcated divorce breaks the divorce action into two separate actions, allowing a majority of the issues to be settled immediately.  The court will retain jurisdiction over the remaining issues until they are resolved.

Idaho is also one of the few community property states.  This means that all marital property acquired during marriage is considered joint property owned by both spouses.  In most cases, this will result in a 50/50 split of that property.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare administers the state’s child support program.  Federal and state agencies support the state’s efforts to make sure child support is paid.

Alimony may also be awarded, depending on several factors and at the discretion of the court.

How is the Division of Property Handled in an Idaho Divorce?

Division of property handled

Idaho is a community property state. That means any property acquired during the marriage is split equally.  The exceptions to this are inheritances and gifts specifically given to one spouse only.

Before assets can be divided, a determination must be made as to what is considered marital property and what is considered separate property.

Assets acquired before marriage or after legal separation or after a divorce has been finalized are considered separate property.  Sometimes a spouse may accidentally change a separate asset to a marital asset, such as when they deposit money into a joint bank account.

A couple can create a prenuptial or post-nuptial agreement that identifies separate property.

Also, some assets are considered both marital and separate property.  For example, assets that were already in a retirement account before marriage are considered separate but deposits after the fact are considered marital property.

How is the division of bank accounts handled?

Any bank accounts with assets that were acquired during the course of the marriage are marital property and must be split evenly.

Any amounts that were in accounts before a marriage, as long as they were kept separate, belong to one spouse only, as long as they are careful not to commingle the funds.

How are debts divided?


Debts are treated the same way as assets in an Idaho divorce.  If you racked up a debt together while married, then both parties are responsible for the debt.

If the debt was entered into separately and not commingled with community property, then only one spouse may be held accountable for it.

Community debts are always divided equally in the eyes of creditors.  In a settlement, you may get one spouse to agree to assume the debt.  However, if your name still appears on the debt, you will still be held accountable by the creditor, despite your agreement with your spouse.

How do Retirement Plans and Pensions get Divided in an Idaho Divorce?

Retirement Plans and Pensions get divided

Pensions and 401k plans that are earned during a marriage are considered marital property and must be divided equally.  Any retirement assets that were earned before marriage or after the date of separation are considered separate assets and not subject to division.

Determining an exact value on retirement accounts can be complicated and involve large amounts of money.  In many cases, you may need to retain a specialist to help determine the exact marital and separate asset values.  These specialists may be an accountant, pension valuator, actuary, business appraiser, or a certified divorce financial analyst.

Once the marital asset valuation for each pension has been established, the accounts will need to be split.  In some cases, spouses may choose to give up interests in other assets to retain the pension’s full value.  It’s not uncommon for one spouse to give up their interest in the family home, in exchange for keeping their pension.

After the divorce has taken place and an agreed-upon split has been negotiated, an attorney or a firm that specializes in splitting pension accounts will need to prepare a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO).

The QDRO details how each retirement account will be split.  It must be submitted to the plan administrator and the court for approval.

If you’re interested in getting a QDRO online, we suggest you try QDRO Counsel! Their comprehensive platform makes it quick and easy to draft a professional-level QDRO, and is our #1 choice for this service!

Check Out QDRO Counsel Here >>

Once it has been approved, the order makes a spouse an alternate payee, and the account is divided according to the instructions in the QDRO.

Read More: The Ultimate Guide to QDROs: Everything You Need to Know

What Happens to Gifts and Inheritances in a Divorce in Idaho?

In Idaho, inheritance and gifts are considered separate property and not subject to division. But if you commingle your inheritance or a gift with other community property, it may then become community property as well.

For example, if you inherit $100,000, but you put it into a joint bank account, then it will likely be considered community property.  Or, if both spouses live in an inherited house, the case might be made that it is marital property.

How is Alimony (Maintenance) Decided in an Idaho Divorce?


Alimony is officially called maintenance in Idaho.  It can be awarded to assist a spouse who is not able to support themselves during or after divorce.

Courts can award temporary, short-term or long-term maintenance.  Temporary maintenance is usually awarded while a divorce is in progress.  Short-term maintenance is awarded to help a spouse become self-supporting.  Long-term maintenance is generally awarded in long-term marriages where one spouse has stayed home to take care of family matters.

The court uses several factors in Idaho when determining spousal maintenance.  They include:

  • the financial resources of the party who requests alimony
  • the time necessary to acquire sufficient education and training for a spouse to find employment
  • the length of the marriage
  • the age, physical, and emotional condition of the party seeking maintenance
  • the ability of the maintenance provider to meet their own needs while also paying maintenance
  • the tax repercussions
  • the marital fault of each party

Read: Everything You Need to Know About Alimony

How is Child Support Calculated?

Child Support

Idaho uses the Income Shares Model to determine child support.  Basically, this model estimates the amount of support each parent would have provided if the divorce had not taken place.  Each parent’s income is used to proportionally determine the responsibility of each parent.

Several other factors are also taken into account:

  • the financial resources of the child
  • the physical and emotional conditions and educational needs of the child
  • the financial resources, needs, and obligations of both the noncustodial and the custodial parent
  • the availability of reasonable medical insurance coverage for the child
  • the actual tax benefits achieved by the parent claiming the federal dependency exemption for income tax purposes
  • extraordinary expenses or add-ons (i.e., medical expenses, child care, etc.)

To calculate the amount of support, a Child Support Worksheet is completed and submitted to the court.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare administers the state’s child support program.  This agency can assist with collection, enforcement and other related actions to ensure a child’s needs are protected.  Enforcement actions may include garnishing wages or income tax refunds, reporting to credit bureaus, suspension of a driver’s license, denial or suspension of a passport, liens against bank accounts or property.

If a parent’s circumstances change substantially, he or she can petition the court for a child support modification either up or down.

The court may also order one or both parents to provide for the maintenance and education of their children.  The state usually provides for child support until a child graduates from high school, but there are some exceptions.

The state uses the Income Shares Model to determine child support.  Essentially, support is based on the parents’ combined gross monthly income and the number of children requiring support.  Adjustments are made for health/dental insurance and work-related childcare.

How is Child Custody Determined in a Divorce in Idaho?

Child Custody

Courts need to decide both physical custody and legal custody in a divorce case.

Physical custody determines which parent the child will primarily live with after a divorce.  Legal custody grants decision-making power over important issues after a divorce. Often, joint physical and legal custody are awarded

Courts want to make sure that both parents remain active and involved in their children’s lives following a divorce.  Unless there are extenuating circumstances, parents will be asked to come up with a Parenting Plan to address exactly how this will take place.

Because child custody is a hot button issue, parents will often disagree, and final decisions will be left with the court to adjudicate.

In all cases, the court will rule in the best interests of a child.  There are several factors that Idaho courts use to make this determination.

  • the child’s wishes or preferences, generally reserved for older children who display sufficient maturity to provide input
  • the child’s ability to make adjustments to his or her home, school, and community;
  • the child’s relationship with parents and siblings
  • the child’s need to have stability in their lives
  • the parents’ preferences on custodial matters
  • the parents’ mental, emotional, moral, and physical health
  • any history of domestic violence or substance abuse by either parent
  • any parental disability that could hinder care

In some cases, custody may be awarded to other family members if neither parent demonstrates capacity to safely perform parenting duties.

Idaho courts have full discretion in deciding how custody and visitation issues will be determined, and there is no automatic assumption that time spent with each parent will be equal.

Need help with co-parenting after separation? Our Family Wizard is the perfect app to help! Specially designed to mitigate issues between ex-spouses, Our Family Wizard provides communication and scheduling services (and much more) that will be incredibly helpful for you and your child.

What role does substance abuse play in determining child custody?

Substance abuse presents a number of challenges in an Idaho divorce.  It is one of the fault-based grounds for divorce, and when it is cited, the abuse can play a major role in custody issues.

The needs and protection of children are always the primary concern for the courts in Idaho.

When substance abuse is proven as a danger to children, then courts have the discretion to limit or deny visitation and custody privileges to parents until they can prove they have resolved their substance abuse issues.

What role does domestic violence play in an Idaho divorce?

domestic violence

Domestic violence is also a major concern for the courts in a divorce.

First, if you are the victim of domestic violence, you must leave your spouse immediate and seek help from law enforcement and social services agencies.

Domestic violence can be identified in many ways.  It may be verbal or physical abuse, emotional or economic abuse, sexual assault, intimidation, threats, stalking, or criminal trespassing, or damage to property.

After you and your family members are safe, you can start working on your divorce.  If needed you may start by getting a protective order put in place to restrict and eliminate contact with your spouse.

Idaho Divorce FAQs

How is infidelity treated in Idaho divorce laws?


Adultery is also one of the grounds that can be used in a fault-based divorce in the state.  A petitioner must produce sufficient evidence to prove adultery has taken place.  This can include photos, witness testimony, phone and credit card records, and other similar information.

To be claimed as a grounds for divorce, the adultery must have taken place within two year of filing.  Also, the adultery must have caused the divorce.

In some cases, a finding of adultery can affect how a court divides assets, but the court is not required to include it as a factor.

What is a bifurcation of marital status, and how does it work?

In Idaho, a bifurcated divorce means dividing different aspects of a divorce into two separate cases.

When a couple can decide on several of the issues, the judge may allow specific issues to be settled immediately while others are worked out at a later date.

Some people may seek a bifurcated divorce because they want to get married again immediately, others have business partners who don’t want community property tied up for any longer than is necessary.

Judges in Idaho are reluctant to grant bifurcated divorces because there is often less incentive to complete the divorce.  It also can result in two separate court actions, creating judicial inefficiencies.

What are the disclosure obligations in an Idaho divorce?

disclosure obligations

So that an equitable division of property can take place, both spouses are required to disclose all assets.  They must file forms with the court within 45 days of the filing of the initial petition.

In some cases, a spouse may try to hide assets.  If they are discovered doing this, there can be severe penalties assessed by the court.

What happens with health insurance during and after divorce?

health insurance during and after divorce

The court may require health insurance to stay in place while a divorce is in progress.  This is often the case when children are involved.

As part of a settlement, one spouse may also be required to pay health insurance costs for the other spouse.  The catch is that after a divorce, group health insurance providers will not allow an ex-spouse to stay on a policy through an employee plan.

If no other arrangements have been made, a spouse will need to find coverage through COBRA, insurance through the healthcare marketplace, or through other similar means.

Are there any special considerations for military divorces in Idaho?

military divorces

To file for divorce when one spouse is in the military, either the spouse or the active servicemember must live in Idaho or be stationed in Idaho.

The grounds for a military divorce in the state are the same as they are for a civilian divorce.

Civilian courts handle the divorce for servicemembers, and many of the issues are the same but some things like child custody and visitation issues can be more complicated due to relocation or deployment orders.

In Idaho, child support and spousal support/alimony awards may not exceed 60% of a military member’s pay and allowances.  Courts adhere to normal state child support guidelines using the Income Shares Model to determine how much child support should be paid.

Under the Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act and the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA) of 1982, active-duty members are afforded certain protections.

For example, a military spouse can request a delay in divorce proceedings so that his or her military duties are not impacted.  A service member can delay a legal action when he or she is on active duty plus 60 days beyond the end of his or her enlistment.  Also, a servicemember can waive those rights and proceed with a divorce if they choose that option.

The USFSPA also governs how military pensions are disbursed and whether or not a former military spouse has full medical and commissary privileges.

For this to happen, the former spouse must have been married at least 20 years; the military spouse had at least 20 years of creditable service, and those two overlapped by at least 20 years.

U.S. courts may not recognize a foreign divorce, so it’s usually best to file in the United States.

What if my spouse does not respond to divorce papers?

After you file for divorce in Idaho, if your spouse does not respond in 20 days, you can seek a default judgment and have your divorce granted by the court.

In many cases, the judge will grant you all the conditions you’re seeking regarding childcare and custody, alimony and a division of assets, among others.

Looking for more great tips about filing for divorce? Check out a few of our favorite resources:

Related Content