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Frequently asked questions about family law


How much does it cost to file for divorce?

A Petition for Divorce costs the Petitioner $207.00.  The initial appearance filing fee paid for by the Respondent is a filing fee of $136.00.  Keep in mind, these filing fees do not include the additional costs a party may incur in a divorce proceeding, whether or not the party has representation.

Concerning attorney’s fees, the cost will fluctuate depending on the length and complexity of a given case. A more complicated divorce will require more attorney time, which in turn will cost more for the client. The cost for an amicable and simple divorce can be quite reasonable.

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Does my spouse have to be formally served with the divorce papers?

Your spouse does not need to be formally served if they agree to file an acknowledgement of service with the court. This may be done in situations where the divorce is amicable or your spouse is already aware that you are filing for divorce. However, service by a third party is a good choice if your spouse may try to avoid being served or react negatively to the petition being filed.

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Why do I have to pay child support when I have my children 50% of the time?

While the number of overnights your child spends with you is one of the factors used in calculating child support, having your children 50% of the time does not automatically relieve you from the obligation of child support.  Idaho uses the Idaho Child Support Guidelines in determining child support.  The Courts will apply the guidelines unless there is a justified reason to deviate.  The typical situation that results in a deviation from the Guidelines is when the parties agree (stipulate) to it.  Other factors used in calculating child support include, but are not limited to: the incomes of both parents, who receives the child tax deduction(s)/exemption(s), and who pays for the health insurance premiums.  Therefore, even if the parents share an equal amount of time with the child(ren), if one parent has an income that is substantially higher than the other parent, then it is very likely that an award of child support will be ordered.

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Can I represent myself in a divorce proceeding?

Absolutely.  It is not required that you be represented by an attorney in a divorce proceeding or custody/support modification.  However, the Judge/Court will hold a self-represented party to the same standard as an attorney.  Therefore, you will have to abide by, and follow all the same procedural rules, statutes, etc. that attorneys have to abide by and follow.  Self-represented parties are also subject to the same penalties and/or sanctions if the Judge determines them to be appropriate.

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How long does it take to get a divorce?

This depends.  If you and your spouse have already agreed to the division of property, debts, assets, and the visitation/custody schedule prior to filing for divorce, then it can be finalized fairly quickly.  If you  do not have children and you have already agreed, then you can be divorced in a matter of days.  However, if you do have minor children then the finalization of the divorce will take a little longer, but not by much.  In divorce cases involving minor children, Idaho requires that both parties attend what is called the “Focus on the Children” class.  As soon as you file your Petition for Divorce, the Court automatically assigns a date and time for you and your spouse to attend the class.  Even if you have agreed on absolutely everything, the Judge will not sign off on your Judgment and Decree of Divorce until both parents have attended/completed the “Focus on the Children” class.

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Can I attend mediation prior to filing for divorce?

Yes, you can employ a mediator before, or after filing for divorce.  In Ada County mediation is typically always Court Ordered.  However, if you and your spouse agree to it, and you believe you can reach an agreement/settlement fairly quickly, but just need a little bit of guidance, then hiring a mediator prior to filing for divorce can be extremely beneficial.  If an agreement is reached in mediation then both you and your spouse will be able to avoid the long and drawn out litigation process.  Keep in mind that even if you do reach an agreement in mediation, it is not legally binding until the Judge has signed and filed the Judgment and Decree of Divorce.  If you are interested in mediating prior to filing for divorce, please call our office to schedule a mediation appointment with either Matthew Bennett or Leah Shotwell.

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What does the divorce process look like?

The divorce process begins when a petition for divorce is filed by you or your spouse. The petition must be served on the non-filing party, or the non-filing party can acknowledge the proceeding without being served. The non-filing party then will have a chance to respond to the petition. Each party will be required to provide certain documents to the other, proving things like income as well as current assets and debts of both parties.

There may also be a series of court appearances depending on how highly contested the divorce is. The court has the power to enter temporary orders to resolve any disputes that may arise before the trial date, often regarding the custody of the couple’s minor children.

In the end, there will be a decision made regarding child support, child custody, spousal support, and property division either by the court, through trial, or the parties, through mediation or a settlement agreement.

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