In this article, you will learn:
- How alimony or spousal support is handled in Idaho
- How spousal support is calculated
- How assets, debts, and property can be divided
Idaho Code Sections 32-704 and 32-705 provide the appropriate guidelines for an award of spousal support. It used to be called alimony, but the concept has changed so that now we look at spousal support not as a punishment for the offenses committed against the other spouse, but rather as a way of allowing someone who, through the course of a marriage, may have been disadvantaged financially to be able to become self-supporting. So, when you look at the factors that court considers, they can grant a maintenance order if the spouse seeking maintenance lacks sufficient property and income earning ability to provide for his or her reasonable needs. You must look at the property division and whether or not somebody getting assets that they can use to support themselves that they should use, rather than having the other party pay spousal support. An example where spousal support might be awarded would be the case where somebody’s been a stay at home mom and a housewife while the other party has been the primary worker, and hasn’t been in the workforce for a long time. Those kinds of families still exist. Then the court can make the maintenance order for such amounts, and for such periods as the court deems appropriate after considering the relevant factors, which include the financial resources of the spouse seeking maintenance, and the spouse’s ability to meet their needs independently.
Sometimes, people need to go back to school and refresh their degrees or maybe their field of employment doesn’t really exist in the world anymore, so they need training in a new field.
Factors That Affect How Property, Assets, And Debts Are Divided In A Divorce In Idaho
The primary starting point for the court is there needs to be a substantially equal division of the property considering the debt because Idaho is a community property state. During the marriage, the law is that the earnings of both spouses from employment are property of this marital community. So, it becomes a joint asset. I have a situation now where that’s going to be a primary issue in a case because I have a husband who had an inheritance, worked during the marriage, and they decided that my client was going to stay at home and be a mom. She does not have great job skills, and he is claiming that all of the property including their marital home and their vehicles and everything else is traceable to his inheritance which remains his separate property.
Anything you had before the marriage, unless you gifted an interest in it to your partner, remains your separate property. What gifts or inheritance did you receive during the marriage that were intended for you only as opposed to a joint gift to the community also remains your separate property. If the parties live in a separate property house but they’re paying the mortgage payments on that separate property house by wages being earned during the marriage, then you’ve got a reimbursement to the community issue about how the value of this separate property has been enhanced during the marriage and how you recoup that for the spouse who doesn’t own the property. There are also retirement considerations as well.
That is primarily a matter of negotiation, and it can be a matter of tracing the ownership of various items of property, and presenting evidence at trial to classify it as either community or separate, which is also true of debts. Often, people come into marriages these days with hundreds of thousands of dollars of student loan debt that they incurred when they were single, or sometimes you’ll have a situation where somebody’s put through professional school by their spouse who works, and then after they get their degree and become successful in their profession, the spouse gets traded in for a newer model, and you have issues about their income earning capacity and what was the community contribution to that. So, the starting point is substantially equal, but what that really looks like can vary a lot depending on the individual circumstances of each case. The difficulty is that most people don’t have much. In Idaho, over the last four years, if you owned a house, you’ve got a lot more than you had four years ago because of the appreciation of real property. My advice to people on dividing property is to remember that most of your stuff is not worth very much. When you take it out of the store and put it in your home, if it’s furniture or if it’s an appliance, the value plummets, and it’s useful to serve the purpose you bought it for, but if you had to sell it, you aren’t going to get much money out of it. That is an area where most people should not be spending a huge amount of money dividing property and debt because they’re just paying attorneys to fight over a very limited amount of equity that disappears through the litigation process. I certainly try to encourage people to be creative, be flexible, and recognize that to the extent you pay two attorneys to fight over your stuff, you might as well just put it in trucks and deliver it to their offices because that’s what’s going to happen at the end of the day.
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