Idaho Child Support Laws

An overview of child support laws in Idaho with answers to FAQs on how support is calculated, modified, and more.

Idaho Child Support

Who Must Pay Child Support in Idaho

According to Rule 126 in the Idaho Child Support Guidelines:

  • Both parents share legal responsibility for supporting their children. That legal responsibility should be divided in proportion to their Guidelines Income, whether separated, divorced, remarried, or never married.
  • In any proceeding where child support is considered, child support shall be given priority over the needs of the parents or creditors in allocating family resources. The court should delay implementing the Guidelines amount only after scrutiny because of debt assumption.
  • Support is determined without regard to the gender of the custodial parent.
  • Rarely should the child support obligation be set at zero. If the monthly income of the paying parent is below $800.00, the court should carefully review incomes and living expenses. That will help determine the maximum amount of support that can reasonably be ordered without denying a parent the means for self-support at a minimum subsistence level. There shall be a rebuttable presumption that a minimum amount of support is at least $50.00 per month per child.

How is Child Support Determined in Idaho?

The Idaho Child Support Guidelines apply to court cases involving minor children’s care and support. The Guidelines are used in custody cases, and modifications of custody, divorce, or child support orders.

The Guidelines are used to calculate child support based on the gross income minus adjustments of both parents and how many children each parent supports. Idaho’s child support guidelines contain a full definition of gross income, and the Affidavit Verifying Income will identify the most common types in each case.

This “Income Shares Model” means that a judge estimates the amount parents would spend on their children if the family were still intact. The amount is divided between each parent according to their income to create a child support award.

A percentage of the total support obligation is assigned to each parent based on that parent’s income percentage. For example, if parent A earns $8,000 a month and parent B earns $2,000 a month, parent A is responsible for 80% of the support amount and parent B for 20% of the support amount.

You can estimate the amount of child support a court would be likely to order in your case by downloading and completing an Affidavit Verifying Income (CAO FL 1-11) and either a Standard Custody Child Support Worksheet (CAO FL 1-13) or a Shared or Split Custody Worksheet (CAO FL 1-12) from the Idaho Supreme Court’s Court Assistance Office.

Custody and visitation arrangement also impact a child support award. Support is based on the Standard Custody Worksheet if one parent has primary physical custody and the other spends less than 25% of overnights per year with the child. That means the total amount of support is divided between the parents based on their percentage shares of income without any adjustment for parenting time. Only the noncustodial parent will pay support because courts presume the custodial parent’s share is already going toward the direct costs of raising the child.

When a parent spends at least 25% of overnights per year with at least one child, or if each parent has primary custody of at least one child, use the Shared or Split Custody Worksheet.

Idaho guidelines recognize that shared and split parenting arrangements result in an overall increase in the costs of raising children this way.

Allowable deductions from gross income include any child support or alimony paid in another case and any alimony paid in a current case. A parent can also deduct the costs of supporting any natural or adopted children from another relationship when those children live in the parent’s household.

Does Child Support Cover College Expenses?

The state has no explicit requirement for child support to cover college expenses. In some cases, support for college expenses by the non-custodial parent may be voluntarily agreed to by both parties. This makes the agreement contractually enforceable.

What is the relationship between support and visitation issues?

Idaho child support and visitation rights are separate issues. The court usually orders the non-custodial parent to pay support and the custodial parent to make the child available for visits. The custodial parent must obey the court order for visitation. Failure to do so could lead to enforcement actions.

Read More: Idaho Divorce Guide

When Does Child Support End in Idaho?

The obligation to pay child support ordinarily ends upon emancipation, when a child turns 18 and no longer attends high school or when a current high school student turns 19.

How Do I Ask for Child Support?

Idaho Child Support Services can help create an order establishing child support, legal fatherhood (including genetic testing), and medical support.

Idaho Child Support Services calculates a proposed support amount that is filed as a petition with the courts. Parents can file a response with the court and present information. From this, the court will set the final support amount.

A relative or third-party caretaker with legal or physical custody may also apply for child support services.

Factors that May Impact Child Support in Idaho

Deviations may be allowed from standard Child Support Guidelines. The court will consider the following before finalizing a child support order.

  • Child care costs. A basic child support calculation does not cover work-related childcare expenses. The court may order a sharing of reasonable work-related child care expenses incurred by either party in proportion to their Guideline Income. If the court imputes income to a student parent, the court may order a pro-rata sharing of the student’s reasonable child care expenses while attending school. If ordered, these child support payments shall be between the parties unless agreed otherwise. The court may consider whether the federal child care tax credit is available as a benefit to a parent.
  • Transportation. The court may order an allocation of transportation costs and responsibilities between the parents after considering all relevant factors, which shall include:
    • The financial resources of the child;
    • The financial resources, needs, and obligations of both parents which ordinarily shall not include a parent’s community property interest in the financial resources or obligations of a spouse who is not a parent of the child unless compelling reasons exist;
    • The costs and difficulties to both parents in exercising custodial and visitation time;
    • The reasons for the parent’s relocation; and
    • Other relevant factors
  • Determining Shared Custody. It is recognized there is an overall increase in child-rearing costs created by shared custody. If the child spends more than 25% of the overnights in the year with each parent, an adjustment in the Guidelines amount will be made.
  • Extended Visits. In cases where a parent has 25% or less of the overnights, the court may reduce the amount of support if a parent has the child for 14 consecutive days or more.
  • Interim visitation of two days or less with the other parent will not defeat abatement of child support during extended visits. A reasonable reduction would be 50% for the duration of the actual physical custody.

Read More: Divorce Laws in Idaho

Is Health Insurance Considered a Part of Child Support?

According to Idaho statutes, health insurance is a part of an overall child support order.

The statute states in part:

For each child support order, consideration should be given to providing adequate health insurance coverage for the child. The parent should normally provide such health insurance to obtain suitable coverage through an employer at a lower cost. The actual cost paid by either parent for health insurance premiums or for health care expenses for the children not covered or paid in full by insurance, including, but not limited to orthodontic, optical, dental, psychological, and prescription medication, shall be prorated between the parents in proportion to their Guidelines Income.

These payments shall be in addition to basic child support and will be paid directly between the parties; however, the pro rata share of the monthly insurance premium may instead be either a credit against or in addition to basic child support.

Any covered health care expense for the children, whether or not covered by insurance, which would result in an out-of-pocket expense to the other parent of over $500 for the course of treatment, must be approved in advance, in writing, by both parents or by prior court order.

Also, Idaho has specialized guidelines regarding sharing a child’s extraordinary medical care costs.

Extraordinary medical costs are generally generated by illnesses, hospital visits, or costly procedures such as getting braces.

Establishing Paternity in Idaho

A paternity suit may be initiated by the biological mother, the child’s legal guardian, the child’s next of kin, the Department of Health and Welfare, or another person in a paternal relationship with the child.

Most standard paternity suits will be initiated by the putative father (father asserting the biological connection to the child) to ensure parenting time or for the birth mother to get financial and co-parenting support from the biological father.

Under Idaho’s Paternity Act, paternity can be established voluntarily or involuntarily.

Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity

  • The simplest way is for parents to sign an Acknowledgement of Paternity form at the hospital after the child is born.
  • If both parents didn’t sign the voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity form while their child was in the hospital, the child would leave the hospital with only the mother’s name on the birth certificate.
  • The parents can still get the form from the Vital Statistics or Child Support Services Office and complete the process later.

Involuntary Court Order

  • A parent or a government official with the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare’s Child Support Services program can file a paternity action with the court.
  • The petitioner must serve and file a Complaint for Paternity. The complaint has to allege that the respondent, the father, is the legal and biological father of the child.
  • After the trial, the judge will rule whether the alleged father is the baby’s legal and biological father. If so, the court will issue an “Order of Filiation,” formally establishing paternity.

Idaho law sets forth some presumptions to determine paternity, and those presumptions must be overcome by the party opposing them.

For example, if the mother was married at the time of birth, she and her husband are permitted to testify that the putative father did not have “access” to the mother. This presumption is that the mother’s husband is the child’s biological father.

However, genetic evidence may overcome this presumption through DNA testing, an affidavit of nonpaternity from the husband and mother, and a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity by the putative father. Where the putative father refuses to take a DNA test, he may be fined by the court. The case will be dismissed when a mother instigates a paternity action and refuses a DNA test.

Also, evidence of sexual intercourse between the parties around conception, scientific evidence, and a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity may all operate as evidence in a paternity suit.

Enforcing Idaho Child Support Orders

Idaho Child Support Services enforces child support court orders through various enforcement methods.

Income withholding is ordered immediately in most Idaho child support orders when an employer is known to Child Support Services. Most other enforcement methods occur automatically when the case meets specific legal criteria. These can include:

  • Garnish the paying parent’s bank accounts
  • Report delinquent child support balances to the credit bureaus
  • Withhold the paying parent’s state and federal tax refunds
  • Withhold a portion of some federal benefits, but not veterans’ disability benefits, need-based payments (like SSI), federal student loans, and some kinds of Social Security.
  • Arrange for the suspension of the parent’s driver’s license, fish and game licenses, and any professional or vocational licenses if overdue payments exceed $2000
  • Obtain a lien against a paying parent’s house or land
  • Intercept PERSI (Public Employee Retirement System of Idaho) retirement benefits
  • Refer parents with more than $2500 owed to the U.S. State Department, which will deny or revoke passports
  • Initiate contempt proceedings. The paying parent must appear in court and explain why the parent disobeyed a lawful court order. This can lead to fines and jail time
  • Ask a judge to sign and enter a “judgment” for past-due child care, child support, and medical support payments. A judgment hurts a parent’s credit scores, and it enables the government to take various invasive actions to collect on the judgment
  • Refer a delinquent child support case to the U.S. Attorney for federal prosecution

You can contact your local CSS office to see if they can enforce a child support order and collect back payments owed to your child. For this to happen, you must have a valid child support order that a judge issued.

Modifying Idaho Child Support Payments

Idaho courts can modify child support if a parent shows that there has been a substantial and material change in circumstances. Those circumstances can include:

  • A 10% increase in either parent’s income
  • An involuntary 10% decrease in either parent’s income
  • An involuntary job loss
  • A substantial increase in the child’s expenses, including costs for medical needs, education, age-related expenses, or cost-of-living changes.

A child support order can be reviewed for a change in support:

  • After three years, at the request of either parent
  • If there has been a substantial change in circumstance that has been maintained for at least six months

If you believe there’s been a substantial and material change in circumstances, file a motion to modify child support in your county court clerk’s office. A judge will set a hearing and allow both sides to present evidence. However, if you and the other parent agree that child support should change, you can submit a written agreement to the court for approval.

The court will weigh a request for modification using the child’s best interest as a primary consideration.

If the court believes you have proven that a child support modification is warranted, the judge can make the new child support amount effective as of the date you filed the motion.

Child Support and Taxes

Child support payments are neither deductible by the payer nor taxable to the recipient. Don’t include child support payments received when you calculate your gross income.

However, you may be able to claim the child as a dependent. Generally, the custodial parent is treated as one who provides more than half of the child’s support. In some cases, the noncustodial parent may be treated as the parent who provided more than half of the child’s support.

Many agreements include a provision that each parent declares half the children as dependents when there is an even number of children. The parents alternate years claiming the child for an odd number of children. In this situation, parents may need to submit Form 8332, Release/Revocation of Release of Claim to Exemption for Child by Custodial Parent, or a similar statement.

Which Agency Handles Child Support Matters in Idaho?

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, Division of Child Support Services (CSS) helps families and children with various support services.

Enforcement Services

CSS can establish paternity, establish or modify an order for financial and medical support, receive and distribute child support payments, and take enforcement actions when necessary.

When you do not have a child support order, Child Support Services works with both parents to gather detailed information and calculate the proposed child support according to the Idaho Child Support Guidelines.

Non-enforcement Services

CSS receives and distributes child support payments and maintains a record of each payment. Payments are sent directly to the other parent or guardian through a direct deposit or debit card known as the Idaho Family Support Card. CSS can also help locate a non-custodial parent and establish child support requirements

CSS charges many of these child support services according to the following schedule:

CSS Charges

You can call CSS at (208) 334-2479 or toll-free at 1-800-356-9868

You can also contact CSS by email at

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