This page has basic information about divorce in Idaho. You will find more information about divorce, including the risks of taking your children out of state while a divorce is pending, on our general Divorce page. To watch brief videos about divorce in Spanish with English sub-titles, go to our Videos page. Lastly, learn more about the court process on our Preparing for Court – By Yourself page.
- What are the residency requirements to file for divorce in Idaho?
- What are the grounds for divorce in Idaho?
- Can I get alimony/maintenance?
- What are the basic steps for filing for divorce?
- Is there anything I can do if my abusive partner continually files court cases against me?
- Where can I find additional information about divorce?
What are the residency requirements to file for divorce in Idaho?
To get a divorce in Idaho, you must be a resident of Idaho for at least six weeks before filing.1
1 I.C. § 32-701
What are the grounds for divorce in Idaho?
Grounds are legally acceptable reasons for divorce. You can get a divorce in Idaho without alleging that your spouse is at fault if:
- you allege that there are irreconcilable differences, which means there are differences between you and your spouse that cannot be changed and have led to a breakdown of the marriage. You must show the judge that there are substantial reasons your marriage should end; or
- you can prove that you and your spouse have lived apart and in different homes continuously for at least five years.1
The judge can also grant you a divorce in Idaho if you allege that your spouse was responsible (at fault) for the divorce for any of the following reasons:
- Adultery - Your spouse has sexual intercourse with someone else after you’re married;2
- Extreme cruelty – Your spouse causes you serious physical injury or causes you serious mental suffering;3
- Willful desertion – Your spouse leaves the marriage with no plan of coming back for at least one year;4
- Willful neglect – Your husband refuses to provide financial support for you, even if he is able to do so for at least one year; (Note: The law specifically uses the word “husband,” not “spouse”);5
- Habitual intemperance - For at least one year, your spouse is regularly so drunk as to keep him/her from normal activity, and/or your spouse’s drunkenness causes you great mental suffering;6
- Conviction of a felony - Your spouse is convicted of a felony during your marriage;7 or
- Permanent insanity - Your spouse has been confined to an insane asylum for at least three years before you file, and the judge does not believe s/he will ever be sane again.8
1 I.C. §§ 32-610; 32-616
2 I.C. § 32-604
3 I.C. § 32-605
4 I.C. § 32-606
5 I.C. § 32-607
6 I.C. § 32-608
7 I.C. § 32-603
8 I.C. § 32-801
Can I get alimony/maintenance?
Alimony, which is called maintenance in Idaho, is financial support paid by, or to, your spouse. In Idaho, if you request maintenance, a judge may grant you maintenance if:
- you do not have enough property, money, and assets to pay for your own reasonable needs; and
- you can’t support yourself through employment.1
If the judge grants you maintenance, s/he will decide what amount and for how long you will receive maintenance after considering several factors, including:
- your financial resources, including property you gained in the divorce
- your ability to meet your financial needs on your own;
- how long you will need to get the education and training you need to find employment;
- how long the marriage lasted;
- your age and physical and emotional condition;
- your spouse’s ability to meet his/her own financial needs while paying you maintenance;
- tax consequences of a maintenance order to each spouse; and
- whether either party was at fault for the divorce.2
After maintenance has been awarded, you can only ask for the order to be changed if there is an important (substantial and material) change in circumstances. Any changes to the order will only apply to future payments.3
1 I.C. § 32-705(1)
2 I.C. § 32-705(2)
3 I.C. § 32-709(1)
What are the basic steps for filing for divorce?
While divorce laws vary by state, here are the basic steps:
First, you must meet the residency requirements of the state in which you wish to file.
Second, you must have “grounds” (a legally acceptable reason) to end your marriage.
Third, you must file divorce papers and have copies sent to your spouse.
Fourth, if your spouse disagrees with anything in the divorce papers, s/he will then have the opportunity to file papers telling his/her side. This is called “contesting the divorce.” In this case, you will have to attend a series of court appearances to sort the issues out. If your spouse does not disagree with anything, s/he should sign the papers and send them back to you and/or the court. This is called an “uncontested divorce.” If a certain period of time passes and your spouse does not sign the papers or file any papers of his/her own, you may be able to proceed with the divorce as an uncontested divorce anyway. You should speak to a lawyer in your state about how long you have to wait to see if your spouse answers the divorce papers before you can continue with the divorce.
Fifth, if there is property that you need divided, or if you need financial support from your spouse, you will have to work that out in an out-of-court settlement, or in a series of court hearings. Custody may also be decided as part of your divorce.
Is there anything I can do if my abusive partner continually files court cases against me?
Idaho law says that if a party who is not represented by a lawyer (“pro se”) continually files civil court cases for the purpose of harassing or maliciously injuring you, known as “vexatious litigation,” an administrative judge can take steps to stop this behavior. The judge can enter a “pre-filing order” that prohibits the person from filing pro se any new litigation without first getting permission from a judge. To get the judge to issue this pre-filing order, you would make a motion to the district court judge or magistrate judge who is ruling over your case.1 Note: The law only talks about a pro se petitioner. The law does not seem to address a situation where the abuser continually files cases against you through a lawyer.
The judge can issue a pre-filing order if any of the following are true:
- the other party filed pro se, and lost, at least three civil court cases in the past seven years, not including small claims court cases;
- after losing a case, the other party repeatedly re-litigates or attempts to re-litigate, pro se, to challenge the validity of the judge’s determination or to re-file a case about the same issues;
- during any litigation, the other party repeatedly files pro se baseless motions, pleadings, or other papers, conducts unnecessary discovery, or engages in other actions that are frivolous or solely intended to cause unnecessary delay; or
- the other party has previously been declared to be a “vexatious litigant” by any state or federal court.2
Additionally, Idaho law specifically says that in a divorce case, if a party files a modification petition that is without a legal basis (“vexatious”) and is harassing, the judge can order that party to pay the attorney fees and costs of the other party.3
1 ID R ADMIN Rule 59(a)(1), (b), (c)
2 ID R ADMIN Rule 59(d)
3 I.C. § 32-718
Where can I find additional information about divorce?
We hope the following links to outside sources may provide helpful information.
The State of Idaho Judicial Branch provides the following resources:
- court forms that you may need if you wish to get a divorce;
- a pamphlet on divorce, property, and debt, which includes information on spousal support; and
- a pamphlet that discusses annulment proceedings in Idaho.
Idaho Legal Aid Services has a glossary of some legal terms commonly used in divorce cases.
WomensLaw.org is unrelated to the above organizations and cannot vouch for the accuracy of their sites. We provide these links for your information only.
You will find more information about divorce, including the risks of taking your children out of state while a divorce is pending, on our general Divorce page. To watch brief videos about divorce in Spanish with English sub-titles, go to our Videos page. Lastly, learn more about the court process on our Preparing for Court – By Yourself page.