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Initial Custody Determination

In an Initial Custody Determination the parents seek to agree upon a custody arrangement that will be in the best interest of the child.  If the parents are not able to agree, the Court will decide.  “The best interest of the child is the guiding “North Star” for the Court and should be the North Star for both parents.

While the concept of “the best interest of the child” is simple to understand, it can be very difficult to determine for a particular child.  To assist the Court in making this determination, the Idaho legislature has identified several factors that a Court may consider in making this determination.  These factors are suggestive and not exclusive – the Court does not have to give weight to each factor and the Court may use other factors.  The factors, found at Idaho Code §32-717 are:

(a) The wishes of the child’s parent or parents as to his or her custody;

(b) The wishes of the child as to his or her custodian;

(c) The interaction and interrelationship of the child with his or her parent or parents, and his or her siblings;

(d) The child’s adjustment to his or her home, school, and community;

(e) The character and circumstances of all individuals involved;

(f) The need to promote continuity and stability in the life of the child; and

(g) Domestic violence – whether or not in the presence of the child.

As can be seen from this list of factors, the determination of the best interest of the child is driven by the facts.  If the parents are not able to agree on what will be in the best interest of the child, the task of the parent and their attorney will be to present to the Court the facts which they believe are most relevant in making a determination as to what will be in the best interest of the child.

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