Idaho Joint Custody Laws

By Marguerite Lance
Idaho, the 35 states, joint custody
Child image by Serenitie from

There are two types of joint custody: joint physical and joint legal custody. When joint physical custody is in force, the child takes turns living with both parents; when joint legal custody is in force, both parents make decisions regarding the child. Unless there are mitigating circumstances, Idaho is one of the 35 states whose court system favors awarding joint custody to parents after a divorce. Idaho courts may award either joint physical custody, joint legal custody or both.


The amount of time a child spends with each parent shall be determined by the court. Just because the parents share joint physical and/or legal custody does not mean that the child shall spend an equal amount of time with each parent during the year. The court usually takes the wishes of the parents and children into account when making this decision.

Legal Decisions

Harney v. Weatherby set the precedence that when parents share joint legal custody they are both required to be involved in and responsible for any decision (and have the right to be involved in the decision-making process) which relates to the child's health, education and general welfare.

Access to Records and Information

Unless there are other provisions made by the court, whether the parent is the custodial parent or not, both parents shall have access to records and information relating to, but not limited to, medical and dental issues, health and education records.

Child Support

Both parents are required to financially contribute the child's care. The parent who has the children for the least amount of time during the year will often be required to pay child support to the other parent, though depending on the individual living arrangements, this is not always the case. The amount paid is determined by a formula used by the court that takes both parent's gross yearly incomes into account.

Denied Joint Custody

If there is evidence that either parent has a history of substance abuse or currently has a substance abuse problem, the court will be unlikely to award custodial rights to that parent, usually awarding sole custody to the other parent. Likewise, if there is evidence of domestic violence, the court will be unlikely to award custodial rights to the offending parent, thus resulting in sole custody to the other parent.

Relevant Factors

When determining custody, Idaho courts determine what is in the best interest of the child. According to I.C. 32-717, such factors include: the wishes of the parents, the wishes of the child, the interaction and interrelationship of the child to his parents and any siblings, the child's adjustment to his home, community and school, the mental and physical health and integrity of the individuals involved, the need to promote continuity and stability in the child's life and the presence of domestic violence, whether the child was present or not. When possible, Idaho courts favor joint custody.

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