Idaho Divorce & Spousal Support

by Elizabeth Rayne
A divorcing couple may agree to the spousal support arrangement.

A divorcing couple may agree to the spousal support arrangement.

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Spousal support serves an important role in helping a divorcing spouse with insufficient income make the transition to single life. Courts in Idaho may award support if one spouse is not able to support himself; couples also have the option to negotiate and enter into a spousal support agreement on their own. Spousal support may automatically end after a period of time and either spouse may petition the court to modify support if circumstances change.

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Requirements for Divorce

In order to get a divorce in Idaho, you must meet the residency requirements and have grounds for divorce. You may only file for divorce if at least one spouse has resided in the state for at least six weeks prior to filing. Idaho recognizes both fault and no-fault grounds for divorce. Fault divorce places the blame for dissolving the marriage on one spouse. Available fault grounds include cruelty, neglect, adultery or willful desertion. More commonly, couples divorce on no-fault grounds, meaning that they have irreconcilable differences.

Spousal Support Overview

Idaho courts will only grant spousal support, or maintenance, if one spouse is unable to reasonably support herself. Depending on the facts of a particular case, the court has discretion to award either permanent support or fixed-term support, which expires after a certain amount of time. The court will consider spousal support after the property division is determined, as the spouse may be able to support herself with the property she received from the divorce settlement. Only if the spouse is unable to support herself, and not able to secure employment, will the court award spousal maintenance. Whether the spouse's current resources reasonably allow her to support herself will be based on the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage.

Support Factors

If the court determines that one spouse should receive spousal support, the court will then consider a number of factors to establish the amount of maintenance. Factors may include the length of the marriage, details of the property settlement, financial resources of spouse seeking support, and ability of the other spouse to pay. Additionally, the court will consider the time it may take for the spouse to receive training or education to pursue employment, as well as the physical and mental health of the spouse. In a divorce case pursued on fault grounds, the court may take fault into consideration when determining the amount of support.

Modification

If circumstances have substantially and materially changed since the original support order was put in place, either spouse may file a petition to modify spousal support. Material changes generally refer to a substantial increase or decrease in either spouse's income. The same court that awarded spousal support has discretion to modify the order.