Ten Steps of a Divorce Case in Idaho

1. Breakdown In The Relationship

It may have come as a surprise to you, but the chances are that something went wrong in the relationship long before the divorce papers were served. Typically we see a pattern of gradual emotional distancing and erosion of trust between the spouses. This is often followed by allegations of infidelity (either real or imagined) and a complete breakdown in communications.

2. Lawyering Up

One side will usually start talking with family and friends about the relationship. Once the big “D” word (divorce) is finally out in the open all sorts of advice (solicited and unsolicited) on what to do and how to choose an attorney will be freely given. Finally, an attorney is often randomly chosen amongst a myriad of names that are thrown out by the family and friends.

3. Filing for Divorce

The Complaint and Summons are filed with the court and are served on the opposing party (the defendant). The party initiating the divorce is the plaintiff and the other party is the defendant. Filing of the complaint initiates the process forcing the other side to act or risk giving the plaintiff everything asked for by default (link). In the Complaint the party filing for divorce essentially makes a list of claims against the defendant asking the court to grant divorce, grand custody and support, and divide the marital property.

4. Answering the Complaint

Although a person served with the divorce complaint is not required by law to answer the complaint, it is always a good idea to file an answer. See here.

5. Discovery Process

Making reasoned and practical decisions about custody and property issues is impossible without first gathering all the information available. The old saying that “knowledge is power” holds true here. This hunt for information is called the discovery process. Both sides will routinely file requests for information in the form of interrogatories, requests for admission, requests for production of documents and depositions.

6. Mediation

Idaho courts in family cases will regularly order the parties to complete a minimum of three hours of mediation in hopes of resolving the case or, in the alternative, narrowing the issues for the upcoming trial. See here.

7. Attorney Negotiations

Aside from the the mediation process that the parties themselves engaging in with the professional mediator, the opposing attorneys are also communicating back and forth amongst themselves trying to resolve a variety of legal issues having to do with discovery, various motions that may be filed in the case and any issues that may have to do with the upcoming trial. The attorneys are also trying to facilitate the mediation process going on between the parties and working with each other on resolving remaining contentious issues that can be resolved.

8. Trial

If the issues cannot be resolved in the mediation process the trial will be necessary and the judge will have the final word on the remaining issues of child custody and property divisions. Trial is a formal process whereby the two adversarial parties present their case to the judge who then makes a decision that is legally binding on the parties as long as the judge acts within the confines of the law.

9. Divorce Decree

A Decree of divorce is a document that includes the exact rights and responsibilities of both parties that carries the force of the law behind it.

10. Enforcement of the Divorce Decree

Having the binding decree is one thing and enforcing its terms is quite another. As many divorced individuals find out to their disappointment, it is sometimes very difficult to enforce the decree and force the other party to live up to its obligations. Such situations often require separate actions, such as motions for contempt of court, in order to enforce the existing legal rights established in the divorce process.


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