Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve had the same question from military members or their spouses who recently moved to Idaho and want to know how and when they can proceed with getting divorced. Though these people appear to be in a similar situation, the answers are very different.
Assume Person A just moved to Meridian, Idaho from Arkansas and wants to divorce his spouse. They have no children together.
Person B just moved to Mountain Home, Idaho, and wants to divorce her spouse. The two were previously stationed in England and have two children together.
Person C just moved to Boise, Idaho from Florida and wants to divorce his spouse. They have one child together.
Person A and Person B can both likely file for divorce in as little as six weeks, while Person C would most likely have to wait until their children have lived in Idaho for at least six months.
Idaho Statute 32-701 requires the plaintiff, the person filing the Petition for Divorce, to reside in Idaho for six weeks before filing the petition for divorce. These six weeks start when someone moves to Idaho. There’s no requirement to get a driver’s license in Idaho, to register to vote or do anything else to “establish residence” in Idaho. Residing within the borders of our beautiful state is enough to start the clock.
Without any children to worry about, Person A can file for divorce as soon as he has resided in six weeks. This is still true even if his spouse lives in a different state, but the process can get slightly more complicated if that’s the case. Lately, people seem to have been moving to Idaho with their spouse then worry about getting divorced. This is especially true if they are moving from overseas and wish to get divorced in the United States before going their separate ways.
Jumping to Person C, Person C will still have to wait longer than six weeks to file for divorce. This is because Idaho Statute 32-11-201 , Idaho’s Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, requires children to live in Idaho for a period of six months before the start of a child custody proceeding. It’s generally a good idea to get divorced and establish child custody and support all in the same preceding, so the best advice would be to wait until the sixth-month mark to initiate the divorce process.
However, there are a few exceptions to when child custody cases can begin without the children residing in Idaho for six months. One of those exceptions is when no other court in the country has jurisdiction of the children. There are a couple of ways this could happen, but one would be if the child hasn’t lived in another state for six months, or any state ever in their life, which is often the case when military families move from overseas. It’s not uncommon for military members to have children in a different country and then move back to the U.S. together, which was the case for Person B. As a result, Person B would have to wait until they meet the six-week residence requirement and could get divorced without having to wait six months for the court to establish jurisdiction of their child. Idaho would likely be that child’s home state before the sixth-month mark.