Legal Custody vs. Physical Custody
In Idaho, two types of child custody are recognized: physical custody and legal custody. Understanding the difference between the two is important when entering into custody negotiations.
Physical custody determines where the child will live. The child will live with the parent who has been awarded physical custody. He or she will have physical care and control of the child, while the other will have visitation. Oftentimes, physical custody is shared equally.
Legal custody refers to the right to make crucial decisions for the child about the child's health and welfare. According to Idaho Code Section 32-1011, "parents who have legal custody of any minor child or children have the fundamental right to make decisions concerning their care, custody, and control."
In addition, the Idaho court may award either joint physical custody or joint legal custody. This is an order awarding either physical or legal custody of the minor child to both parents. The physical custody shall be shared between both parents in a way that ensures the child has frequent and continued contact with both parents. Joint custody must be awarded based on the court's determination of the child's best interests.
Factors Considered in Determining Custody
According to Idaho Code Section 32-717, in an action for divorce, when awarding custody of the child, the court shall consider all relevant factors to determine the best interests of the child. When determining what is best for the child, the court must consider the following:
- The wishes of the child's parent or parents as to his or her custody
- The wishes of the child as to his or her custodian
- The interaction and interrelationship of the child with his or her parent or parents, and his or her siblings
- The child's adjustment to his or her home, school, and community
- The character and circumstances of all individuals involved
- The need to promote continuity and stability in the life of the child
- Any history of domestic violence, child abuse, or neglect
Modifying an Existing Child Custody Arrangement
Despite what many people think, child custody arrangements are not set in stone. Certain life events may give either parent a basis to request a change to an existing child custody order. In order to modify an existing child custody order, the requesting parent must show that:
- There has been a substantial, material, and permanent change of circumstances since the most recent custody order.
- The new changes are in the child's best interest.
A major life event can also be cause for a custody modification. These major life events include, but are not limited to:
- Involuntary loss of job
- Failure of the other parent to hold up their end of the agreement
- Child abuse or neglect by either parent
- Substance abuse or engaging in self-destructive habits
- Serious medical condition
- Child's increase in age
Work With Experienced Child Custody Attorneys
Determining child custody in Idaho involves a number of complex statutes and rules. Child custody cases are governed by the Idaho Rules of Family Law Procedure. Trying to establish child custody arrangements with your partner, agreeing on parental responsibility, and allocating parenting time can make the process seem overwhelming. That’s why it is so crucial to speak with a knowledgeable Idaho family law attorney for detailed guidance to protect your parental rights.
At Shep Law Group, our attorneys have dedicated their careers to providing experienced legal services and comprehensive guidance to individuals and families facing divorce and child custody. As your legal counsel, we will review your unique situation, explore your legal options, and guide you through the process of establishing or modifying child custody arrangements in a cost-effective manner. Our legal team will work diligently with the other party to resolve custody issues as quickly and amicably as possible but will aggressively act on your behalf if negotiation and cooperation with the other party fails. We will work hard to address your needs and concerns and do everything that we can to protect your rights and your family's best interests. So don’t wait. Call or reach out to our firm today to schedule a case consultation and learn more about how we can help you and your family move forward.