Articles Posted in Family Law

By Nathan R. Palmer

Children who share time between two households often express their opinions and desires regarding which parent’s household would provide them with the best environment for growth and learning. A child’s expressions become more articulate as the child grows older and, at that point, a judge may consider the child’s wishes when making decisions regarding child custody. However, here are two (of the many) things judges generally take into consideration when deciding to include a child’s wishes in his/her analysis of the child’s best interest.

    1. The age of the child. Generally, judges begin to consider a child’s wishes around the time the child turns 10-13 years of age. Each child matures at a different rate dues to life experiences and other environmental factors

    By Heidi Buck Morrison

    If you are not receiving child support, the first step is getting a child support order in place. This will involve filing a court case to have child support established. In Idaho, child support is calculated based on the Idaho State Child Support Guidelines, a statutory formula, which takes into account a number of factors, including time spent with the child, income of the mother and father, which parent insures the child and the cost of such insurance, and which parent claims the child on his/her taxes. I.R.F.L.P. 126.

    If you need assistance getting a child support order in place, the attorneys at Racine Olson can assist you today.

    By Tippi Jarman

    Did you know that the Idaho Supreme Court just days ago upheld a magistrate judge’s decision to allow the primary custodial parent (mother) to move with the children from Idaho to Montana?

    In Reed v. Reed, 2016 Ida. LEXIS 246, (September 9, 2016), the magistrate judge analyzed a petition to modify the child custody determination made in the parties’ previous divorce. The magistrate judge gave due consideration to the factors set forth in Idaho Code Section 32-717(1); namely: (a) the wishes of the child’s parent or parents as to his or her custody; (b) the wishes of the child as to his or her custodian; (c) the interaction and interrelationship of the child with his or her parent or parents, and his or her siblings; (d) the child’s adjustment to his or her home, school, and community; (e) the character and circumstances of all individuals involved; (f) the need to promote continuity and stability in the life of the child; and (g) domestic violence as defined in section 39-6303, Idaho Code, whether or not in the presence of the child. The magistrate judge found that the factors in favor of allowing the mother to relocate with the children in Montana were considerable.  The mother felt Montana was best for the children. The children were neutral about both of their parents. The mother had been the primary custodial parent and witnesses attested to her strong parenting skills. Although both parents were deemed stable and fit to provide a home for the children, the family situation in the mother’s home allowed for siblings to interact with each other daily.  The children had made a good adjustment to the school and activities in Havre, Montana. The children were within walking distance of the school and their home. The mother, who had remarried and had two children with her new husband, was able to elect staying at home to care for the children. Since the children had been living primarily with their mother for over ten years, stability and continuity in their lives was promoted by having them stay with her in Montana rather than with the father in Idaho.

    By Nathan R. Palmer

    The calculation used to determine the amount of child support to be paid by one parent to the other can seem somewhat mysterious. While there are nuances to every factor used in calculating child support, the factors listed below are typically used in every child support calculation:

    Time with the child. The Idaho Child Support Guidelines require the input of the percentage of time each parent spends with the child. The percentage is determined by counting the number of overnight visits the child has with each parent during the year. Generally, parents pay less (or receive more) child support when they spend a higher percentage of time with their child.

    By Nathan R. Palmer

    A Qualified Domestic Relations Order (a.k.a “QDRO”) is an order from a court requiring the division of certain qualified retirement plans as a result of divorce. Many Idaho divorces involve the process of dividing community property, which includes monies accumulated in retirement accounts during marriage. Most retirement plans will not simply distribute funds from the accounts due to a plan participant’s divorce as retirement plans are subject to strict regulation to ensure fairness and accuracy. As a result, a QDRO is generally the only option available for the division of the majority of retirement accounts.

    A QDRO is not automatically issued during the divorce process. Once the court enters an order dividing the parties’ property (or once the parties agree upon a property division), the spouse whose name is not on the qualified plan (a.k.a. the alternate payee) generally requests that the court issue a QDRO. The alternate payee spouse will want to contact the plan administrator to gather as much information as possible prior to seeking a QDRO from the court. The reason being, most qualified plans require specific information to be contained in the QDRO. Many plan administrators will provide you with a sample QDRO for your reference when seeking a QDRO from the court. Regardless, seeking a QDRO can be tedious and frustrating if not properly undertaken.

    By Heidi Buck Morrison

    Sometimes divorce is not a mutual decision.

    Scenario 1: You and your spouse have problems, and while you have discussed the possibility of divorce you are nowhere near the point of wanting to move forward with a divorce. Then, boom, your spouse serves you with a petition for divorce.

    By Patrick George

    Each year more than 1.5 million children in the United States watch their parents go through the struggle of divorce. This raises questions from all the parties including the children such as how will the divorce affect the kids, should I stay in an unhappy marriage for the children, and how the fighting is affecting the kids? The evidence shows that few children experience serious problems after divorce and there are ways to make it easier for them such as counseling.

    In 2001, a study in Pennsylvania showed that children suffered far less after witnessing a divorce than was originally thought. In coming to this conclusion, the researcher looked at academic achievement, emotional problems, behavior problems delinquency, self confidence, and social relationships. The study ended up showing that there were minimal differences between children from intact families and children that came from divorced situations.

    By Nathan R. Palmer

    Continuity and stability are two of the factors Idaho judges must consider when drafting a child custody plan for divorcing parents. The majority of child psychologists and social workers advise parents to establish routines for their children to help create a predictable environment in which children typically thrive. Accordingly, it is generally in a child’s best interest for parents who must co-parent from different households to collaborate regarding providing their child with consistency, including:

      1. Daily Routines. If possible, parents should maintain similar routines at both homes to help ease the transition from one home to the other. Simple matters such as bed times, meal times, homework, and recreation should be similar at both homes to help create an environment of continuity and stability

      By Nathan R. Palmer

      Most individuals in need of a divorce seek a quick, efficient resolution. Divorce proceedings in southeast Idaho typically last between four and six months, on average. The divorce process entails exchanging information and documentation between the parties, potentially agreeing upon issues, including child custody and spousal maintenance, and going to trial to allow a judge to make a final decision on all issues on which the Parties do no agree. Some individuals desire to avoid this process for varying reasons, including lack of time, money, or desire. As a result, those individuals might simply agree to the terms of divorce proposed by the opposing party.

      The advantages and disadvantages of obtaining a divorce without performing a thorough investigation vary depending on the nature of each case. All too often people agree to a speedy divorce only to regret the decision a few days, weeks, or months later. Here are some of the pros and cons of seeking a speedy resolution:

      By Heidi Buck Morrison

      While Idaho is not considered an “alimony state,” Idaho courts do have discretion to award spousal maintenance if your situation meets certain criteria set forth in Idaho’s spousal maintenance statute.  In order for the court to grant spousal maintenance, it must find that the spouse seeking maintenance:

      1. Lacks sufficient property to provide for his or her reasonable needs; and
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