Child Support in Idaho
In most cases, child support will need to be determined at the same time the custody order is determined, regardless if the parents have been married or not. Both parents, again regardless if their was a marriage or not, are obligated to support their children.
Idaho follows the “Income Shares Model.” This means that the courts will estimate the amount parents would spend on their children when both parents and children live together in one household (as if the family were still intact) and then divide this amount between the parents based on their incomes.
The court will use the Idaho Child Support Guidelines to determine the amount of child support to be paid. The guidelines use a formula based on the income of both parents as well as the number of overnight visits the child spends each parent during the year.
If the parents have a parenting arrangement where one of them has primary physical custody and the other has visitation amounting to less than 25% of overnights per year, the total amount of support is divided between the parents based on their percentage shares of income without any adjustment for parenting time. Only the noncustodial parent will pay support as the courts presume that the custodial parent’s share is already going toward the direct costs of raising children.
If each parent spends at least 25% of overnights per year with at least one child (shared custody), or if each of parent has primary custody of at least one child (split custody), the guidelines recognize that in shared and split parenting arrangements, there is an overall increase both in the total costs of raising children and in the expenses of each parent. In addition to considering each parent’s percentage share of income, the shared and split custody calculations take into account both the overall increase in support costs and the percentage of time a child spends with each parent. These are multi-step calculations.
Basic Guideline Principles
The Child Support Guidelines are premised upon the following basic principles to guide parents, lawyers, and courts in arriving at child support obligations:
- Both parents share legal responsibility for supporting their child. That legal responsibility should be divided in proportion to their Guidelines Income, whether they be separated, divorced, remarried, or never married.
- In any proceeding where child support is under consideration, child support shall be given priority over the needs of the parents or creditors in allocating family resources. Only after careful scrutiny should the court delay implementation of the Guidelines amount because of debt assumption.
- Support shall be determined without regard to the gender of the custodial parent.
- Rarely should the child support obligation be set at zero. If the monthly income of the paying parent is below $800.00, the Court should carefully review the incomes and living expenses to determine the maximum amount of support that can reasonably be ordered without denying a parent the means for self-support at a minimum subsistence level. There shall be a rebuttable presumption that a minimum amount of support is at least $50.00 per month per child.
Modification or Termination
In Idaho, the obligation to pay child support ordinarily ends when a child who is no longer attending high school turns 18 or a current high school student turns 19. A parent who wants to modify (change) an initial child support award will have to show that circumstances have changed substantially—for example that one parent has gotten a much better paying job or that parenting time has changed considerably. A parent can also request a modification if there has been a change in the child support guidelines that would significantly affect the support amount.