Key Terms

ANSWER: An answer is a pleading that is filed in response to the other party’s petition. It is also known as a response.

ALIMONY/SPOUSAL MAINTENANCE: Spousal maintenance is usually ordered only where the party seeking alimony/maintenance is unable to support herself/himself through employment and lacks sufficient property to provide for his/her reasonable needs. Generally, the duration of the alimony/maintenance will be for the length of time reasonably necessary for the spouse to become self-supporting.

ARREARAGES: Arrearages is the amount of money that is past due for child support or spousal support.

CHILD SUPPORT: Both parents share have a legal obligation to provide for their child/ren. Child support is the amount that one parent pays the other parent each month for the care and support of the minor child/ren. Child support stops when the child turns 18 or 19, if the child is still pursuing their high school education.

CHILD SUPPORT GUIDELINES: The state of Idaho uses guidelines published by the Idaho Supreme Court to determine child support payments between parents. The guidelines take into account each party’s income and the number of overnights the child/ren spend with each parent. In some cases, the court may deviate from the guidelines if there is good cause to do so.

COMMUNITY PROPERTY: Community property is the property that was acquired during the marriage. All property acquired during a marriage is presumed to be community property. The exceptions are property acquired during the marriage or received during the marriage as a gift or inheritance.

CUSTODY: There are two key things to know when discussing parenting/custody in the state of Idaho. First, the courts use the best interest of the child standard when making decisions and second, the court has a strong preference to award joint physical and legal custody to both parents, though joint custody does not always mean equal custody.

LEGAL CUSTODY: Legal custody refers to the ability to make decisions on behalf of your children. This includes where they go to school, where they receive medical care, and much more. Joint custody means that both parents share this responsibility.

PHYSICAL CUSTODY: Physical custody refers to which parent is currently exercising parenting time. Physical custody is which parent has care and control of the children. This is what is also known as parenting time. Joint physical custody means that both parenting have meaningful parenting time with their children, though joint custody does not necessarily mean equal parenting time with the children.

SOLE CUSTODY: Sole custody is when one parent has 100 percent legal or physical custody of a minor child. If a parent has sole legal custody of the child, that parent may make all the parenting decisions on behalf of the child. If the parent has sole physical custody of the child, that parent is the only parent who has parenting time with the child and the other parent has no such access to the child.

JOINT CUSTODY: Joint custody is when both parents have shared legal custody and/or physical custody of their children. Joint just means shared custody, not necessarily equal custody. For example, joint physical custody would include parenting plans with shared 50/50 parenting time and parenting plans that call for the child to spend every other weekend with one parent and the remaining time with the other parent.

DEFAULT/DEFAULT JUDGEMENT: A default judgment is awarded by the court when the respondent fails to respond or otherwise appear or defend a petition after being properly served. In Idaho, a respondent has 21 days to respond to a petition for divorce.

DISCOVERY: Discovery is the formal exchange of information and documents between parties in a legal proceeding.

IRRECONCILABLE DIFFERENCES: Idaho code defines irreconcilable differences as grounds that are determined by the court to be substantial reasons for not continuing the marriage and which make it appear that the marriage should be dissolved.

MEDIATION: Mediation involves a neutral third-party to facilitate a discussion between two parties to help them reach a resolution or agreement on the issues in dispute between them. Mediation is confidential and binding between the parties.

MOTION: A motion is a written request to the court to take a specific action after a petition for relief has been filed.

PERSONAL PROPERTY: Personal property is everything that someone owns that isn’t real property. It’s “stuff,” bank accounts, vehicles, and more.

PETITION: The petition is the initial pleading that initiates a legal proceeding. The pleading must include a brief description of the nature of the relief sought.

PETITIONER: The petitioner is the party, or person, who files a legal action with the court. There is no advantage to being either the petitioner or respondent.

PRENUPTIAL AGREEMENT: A prenuptial agreement is an agreement entered before a marriage that sets forth each party’s rights and responsibilities should the marriage end by death or divorce. This document allows parties to determine how their assets and debts should be divided at the time of divorce. Child support and custody are generally excluded from prenuptial agreements.

PROPERTY DIVISION: The Idaho Code has adopted community property principles in determining rights to property acquired during the marriage. What this means to you and your spouse is that generally, all property acquired during the marriage is presumed to be community property. Generally, community property will be divided equally by the Judge. The Judge can make an unequal division if the Judge finds there are compelling reasons for doing so. Separate property is property acquired before marriage or property acquired during marriage by gift, inheritance, or with the proceeds of separate property. It should be noted that net income on separate property is considered community property. The separate property of one spouse will be awarded to that spouse. If you and your spouse can agree on a property division, normally, the Judge will approve it. If you do not agree, the Judge will divide the property after hearing evidence from you, your spouse, and any other persons that either party may decide to call as witnesses concerning the value and nature of the property and how it should be divided.

POSTNUPTIAL AGREEMENT: A postnuptial agreement is entered into after marriage and sets forth each party’s rights and responsibilities should the marriage terminate. It allows the parties to continue with the relationship under their own rules. A separation agreement is entered into by the parties once the decision to divorce has been made and sets forth how property and debt should be distributed between them.

QUALIFIED DOMESTIC RELATIONS ORDER/QDRO: A qualified domestic relations order is an order issued by the court that divides retirement accounts, benefits, or plans.

REAL PROPERTY: Real property is land and everything permanently attached to the land.

RESPONDENT: The respondent is the party, or person, who did not initiate the legal proceeding and must respond to the suit brought forth by the petitioner. This person is also called the defendant in some states or in other civil suits but is known as the respondent in Idaho family law cases.

SEPARATE PROPERTY: Separate property is the property that was acquired before the marriage or received during the marriage as an inheritance or gift. It also includes property acquired during the marriage purchased from the sale or gains of separate property.

STIPULATION: A stipulation is an agreement between the parties.

VENUE: Venue is the particular county where a court with jurisdiction hears and decides the case. In practical terms, it’s the county where the judge will hear your case.

WITNESS: A witness is a person who makes a statement to the court, either by deposition, affidavit or at trial, while under oath or affirmation to testify about a particular matter under penalty of perjury.

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