FAQs ABOUT CHILD CUSTODY

            In representing parents during child custody and parenting time disputes, we have answered countless questions about parental rights.  Following are some of the more commonly asked questions regarding child custody.

Q:        What is the difference between physical and legal custody?

 A:        In Idaho, physical custody is the term used to describe where a child resides most of the time. Legal custody refers to the ability to make important decisions about your children’s education, religion, health care and upbringing.

Q:        How do courts determine custody and placement?

A:        Unless there are extenuating circumstances, courts tend to favor arrangements where parents share physical and legal custody.  All decisions about child custody are based on what serves the best interests of the children.  To deviate from a typical shared/joint arrangement, you typically must show that joint custody or placement is detrimental to the children's best interests.

Q:        Are mothers more likely to be awarded custody over fathers?

A:        In the past, most states provided that custody of children of "tender Years" (about five and under), had to be awarded to the mother when parents divorced.  Idaho has now rejected this law.  Instead, Idaho determines custody on the basis of what is in the children's best interests without regard to the age of the child and gender of parents. And joint/shared parenting is the norm that allows fathers to exert their custody.

Q:        What can I do if the other parent is withholding visitation/parenting time?

A:        It is not lawful for the other parent to prevent you from having visitation with your children, even if you have missed child support or spousal support payments.  If you cannot clear up the misunderstanding by yourselves, a family law attorney can help you evaluate your options and enforce your custody order.

Q:        I think the other parent may have a substance abuse problem. How can I protect our children?

A:        If the other parent is abusing drugs or alcohol, you may be able to seek a modification of your parenting plan.  If you are able to show that the other parent is using drugs or alcohol improperly, it may also be appropriate for the court to order restricted or supervised visitation.  Speak with a lawyer about your unique situation and your options.

Q:        What are grandparents' rights to visitation or placement in Idaho?

A:        Idaho law presumes that a child's parents are best suited to protect their children’s interests and protects the parents' rights to raise the child as they choose.  If you are a grandparent or another interested relative, you may be able to petition the court for visitation.

            While this child custody FAQ provides general information, there is no substitute for a face-to-face consultation with an attorney.  We encourage you to contact our office to discuss your questions in more detail and to speak with us about your specific situation.  We offer a free 30-minute consultation.

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