Divorce in Idaho: everything you need to know

1 min readLast updated February 21, 2024by Unbiased team

From filing and records to costs and more, this guide will take you through divorce in Idaho and help you make informed decisions.


  • There are two main grounds for divorce in Idaho which you must have before you can be granted a divorce.

  • The median cost of divorce in the US is $7,000, but this can fluctuate massively depending on your unique circumstances.

  • Idaho has a mandatory 21-day waiting period between the time your spouse was served and the time you finalize your divorce.

  • A financial advisor can help you navigate your finances during a divorce and rebuild afterward.

What are the different types of divorce in Idaho?

In Idaho, there are two main types of divorce: fault-based and no-fault.

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  • A fault-based divorce is when one spouse blames the other for the breakdown of the marriage and proves that the other spouse committed a specific ground for divorce, such as adultery, cruelty, desertion, or felony conviction. A fault-based divorce may give the spouse who is not at fault an advantage in terms of alimony, property division, or custody, but it also requires more evidence, time, and money to prove the fault.

  • A no-fault divorce is when the spouses agree that their marriage is irretrievably broken and that there is no reasonable prospect of reconciliation. A no-fault divorce is usually faster, cheaper, and less contentious. Still, it also requires the spouses to agree on all the terms of their divorce, such as child support, spousal support, property division, and parenting plan.

How do you file for divorce in Idaho?

To file for divorce in Idaho, you or your spouse must meet the following requirements:

  • You or your spouse must be a resident of Idaho for at least six weeks before filing for divorce.

  • You or your spouse must file a petition for divorce in the district court of the county where you or your spouse live.

  • You or your spouse must pay the filing fee, which varies by county but is usually around $200.

  • You or your spouse must serve the other spouse with a copy of the petition and a summons, which notifies the other spouse of the divorce action and the deadline to respond.

  • You or your spouse must wait for at least 20 days after the service of the petition and summons before the court can grant a divorce decree unless the spouses agree to waive the waiting period.

If you and your spouse agree on all the terms of your divorce, you can file a joint petition for divorce, which simplifies the process and eliminates the need for service and response. You can also file a stipulation, which is a written agreement that outlines the terms of your divorce, such as child support, spousal support, property division, and parenting plan. The court will review your stipulation and incorporate it into the final divorce decree if it is fair and reasonable.

If you and your spouse do not agree on all the terms of your divorce, you will have a contested divorce, which means that the court will have to decide the disputed issues for you. This may involve a trial, where you and your spouse will present evidence and arguments to support your positions, and the judge will make the final decision. A contested divorce is usually more expensive, time-consuming, and stressful than an uncontested divorce.

How much does a divorce cost in Idaho?

The cost of divorce in Idaho depends on several factors, such as:

  • The type of divorce (fault-based, no-fault, annulment, joint, or contested)

  • The complexity of the issues involved (such as child custody, spousal support, or property division)

  • The level of cooperation or conflict between the spouses

  • The need for professional services (such as attorneys, mediators, appraisers, or accountants)

  • The court fees and other expenses (such as filing fees, service fees, or copying fees)

According to a 2019 survey by Martindale-Nolo Research, the average cost of divorce in Idaho was $11,400, including $9,800 in attorneys’ fees. However, the cost ranged from $4,500 to $21,000, depending on the circumstances of each case. The survey also found that the average duration of divorce in Idaho was 10 months, but it varied from 5 to 18 months.

To reduce the cost and duration of divorce in Idaho, you and your spouse can try to:

  • Agree on as many issues as possible and file a joint petition or a stipulation

  • Use mediation or other alternative dispute resolution methods to resolve your differences

  • Hire an attorney who is experienced, reputable, and affordable

  • Avoid unnecessary litigation or appeals

  • Be honest, cooperative, and respectful with each other and the court

How do you split assets in a divorce in Idaho?

Idaho is a community property state, which means that all the property and debts that the spouses acquired during the marriage are considered to belong to both of them equally, regardless of who earned or spent them.

This includes income, bank accounts, real estate, vehicles, furniture, pensions, and credit card debts.

The only exceptions are property and debts that are considered to be separate property, such as:

  • Property and debts that the spouses owned before the marriage

  • Property and debts that the spouses inherited or received as gifts during the marriage

  • Property and debts that the spouses agreed to keep separate in a valid prenuptial or postnuptial agreement

  • Property and debts that are related to personal injury awards or settlements

In a divorce, the court will divide the community property and debts between the spouses in a way that is fair and equitable, considering factors such as:

  • The duration of the marriage

  • The age, health, income, and earning capacity of each spouse

  • The contribution of each spouse to the acquisition, preservation, or improvement of the property

  • The needs and circumstances of each spouse and their children

  • The tax consequences of the property division

  • Any other relevant factors

The court will also assign the separate property and debts to the spouse who owns them.

How does alimony work in Idaho?

Alimony, also known as spousal support or maintenance, is a payment that one spouse makes to the other spouse after a divorce to help them maintain a reasonable standard of living.

Alimony is not automatic or mandatory in Idaho. Still, the court may award it to one of the spouses if it finds that the spouse lacks sufficient income or resources to support themselves after the divorce.

The amount and duration of alimony depend on several factors, such as:

  • The financial situation of each spouse

  • The ability of the paying spouse to pay alimony

  • The ability of the receiving spouse to become self-supporting

  • The length of the marriage

  • The age and health of each spouse

  • The conduct of each spouse during the marriage

  • Any other relevant factors

The court may award alimony for a fixed period of time until the receiving spouse remarries or cohabits with another person or indefinitely, depending on the circumstances. The court may also modify or terminate alimony if there is a substantial change in the situation of either spouse.

What happens to children during a divorce in Idaho?

The court’s main concern in a divorce involving children is to protect their best interests and welfare. To do this, the court will decide on two major issues: child custody and child support.

  • Child custody

Child custody refers to the legal and physical rights and responsibilities of the parents regarding their children. There are two types of custody in Idaho: legal custody and physical custody.

Legal custody is the right to make major decisions about the children’s education, health, religion, and welfare. Physical custody is the right to have the children live with you and provide for their daily needs.

The court may award sole or joint custody to the parents, depending on what is best for the children.

  • Child support

Child support is the financial obligation that one parent has to the other parent to contribute to the costs of raising the children.

The amount of child support is determined by a formula that takes into account the income of both parents, the number of children, the custody arrangement, the health insurance costs, and other expenses. The court may deviate from the formula if it finds that it would be unjust or inappropriate to apply it.

The court may order child support until the children reach the age of 18, graduate from high school, or become emancipated, whichever occurs later. The court may also modify or enforce child support if there is a change in the circumstances of either the parent or the children.

How to protect your finances when going through a divorce in Idaho

Going through a divorce can be a stressful and challenging time, especially when it comes to finances.

You may have many questions and concerns about how to protect your assets, manage your debts, and plan for your future.

Here are some ways you can protect your money when going through a divorce:

  • Organize your finances: Before filing for divorce, gather all relevant financial information and documents, such as tax returns, bank statements, credit card bills, and retirement accounts. Make a list of all assets and liabilities, both marital and non-marital. This will help you and your spouse negotiate a fair distribution of property and debts.

  • Consider mediation: Mediation is a process where you and your spouse work with a neutral third party to resolve issues related to your divorce, such as property division, alimony, child custody, and child support. Mediation can be less time-consuming, less expensive, and less stressful than going to court. It can also help you maintain a cooperative relationship with your spouse after the divorce.

  • Think about Social Security: If you have been married for at least 10 years, you may be eligible to receive Social Security benefits based on your ex-spouse’s record. This can provide valuable income during retirement, especially if your ex-spouse earned more than you. However, certain criteria must be met to qualify for this benefit.

  • Seek professional help: Divorce can significantly impact your financial situation. Consider consulting with a financial advisor specializing in divorce to help you navigate these changes and plan for your future.

Get expert financial advice

A financial advisor can help you assess your current financial status, create a post-divorce budget, and develop a long-term financial plan that aligns with your needs and goals.

Unbiased can connect you with a financial advisor perfectly suited to meet your needs. Simply provide some details about what you’re looking for, and Unbiased’s platform will match you with your advisor.

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Unbiased team

Our team of writers, who have decades of experience writing about personal finance, including investing and retirement, are here to help you find out what you must know about life’s biggest financial decisions.

Need help rebuilding your finances after divorce?

A financial advisor can guide you through your financial recovery both during and after your divorce.