FIRM FOUNDED IN 2003

Professional legal counsel in Caldwell, Idaho.
Serving Caldwell, Nampa, Boise and the surrounding Idaho areas.

Mediation in Family Law

Mediation is very often ordered in each family law (divorce, initial custody, or custody modification) case in Canyon County or Ada County. Once mediation is ordered, and a mediator is appointed the client will need to contact the mediator and set an appointment. Different mediators have documents or intake forms which need to be filled out and completed prior to the first mediation. It can be typical for the Court to order approximately three mediation sessions be completed.

The mediator is a neutral third party who attempts to assist the parties in reaching a resolution. Each mediator will charge a fee, and the fee will vary. Typically, the attorney does not attend the mediation with the client. Therefore, before a client attends mediation it is important that the client is prepared for mediation. The following issues are things you should discuss with your attorney prior to the mediation appointment:

• Learn who the mediator is
• Discuss the mediation process
• Discuss any legal terms needed in mediation
• Review what possible outcomes of the case are
• Discuss how to negotiate
• Ask for attorney review of agreement

Mediation is sometimes a very useful and helpful process in a family law case and the client should be prepared to attempt to resolve the matter if mediation is ordered. By preparing before the mediation appointment the client will have a higher chance of making the mediation session productive. That being said, in some high conflict cases no matter the preparation the case might be one which needs to move forward in litigation beyond mediation, and in those cases it’s important to focus the mediation on what issues, if any, can be resolved.

Tyler Rounds has been asked to speak to a group of law professionals in November. The topic will relate to the division of retirement assets in divorce pursuant to a qualified order. In any divorce in Idaho (or any state) there are several different retirement plans that may need to be divided and that must be valued. Dividing a retirement plan in a divorce can be complex and it is always advised to use a lawyer that understands the process to avoid costly mistakes. Generally, all retirement plans are either a defined benefit plan or a defined contribution plan.

Typically a QDRO or qualified domestic relations order is the basic instrument that needs to be prepared to divide the plan. However, other types of plans might require a different instrument. There are many different plans that might need to be divided in a divorce including some of the following: individual retirement plan (IRA) or similar defined benefit plan, public employee pension plan (such as PERSI in Idaho), federal retirement plan (usually either a FERS or CSRS plan), and military pension plans.

When things go wrong in a marriage many individuals may believe that divorce is the only option. However, legal separation is an alternative option to a divorce in Idaho.

What is a legal separation? I.C. § 32-704(2) is the statutory basis for legal separation and sets forth that a decree of legal separation can include provisions providing for custody of children, division of property, payment of debts, payment of child support, and payment of spousal support as set forth in the statues governing domestic relations.

Legal separation may be an option for you if you are unsure about divorce, and it can always be followed up with a divorce that typically will simply follow the terms set forth in the separation order.

The Benefits of Legal Separation:
• Enables a couple to live separately but still remain married
• Religious beliefs may be against divorce
• Offers space and time for possible reconciliation 

Division of Property

As with divorce, in a legal separation the marital property is divided. Idaho is a community property state, which means that the property acquired during marriage that is not separate property will be equitably divided.

Payments of Child/Spousal Support & Custody of Child

Even though in a legal separation a couple is still married, they are living apart meaning, spousal support (also known as alimony) can be awarded to the individual who has shown a need for such support. As a result of living separate child custody support must also be determined, and is generally calculated pursuant to the Idaho Child Support Guidelines. Finally, if the parties cannot agree on a custody schedule then the court will make a determination based on the factors set forth in I.C. § 32-717. However, if the parties can agree on the custody schedule then the court will enter the agreed schedule into the separation order.

Copyright © Lovan Roker & Rounds, P.C.. All Rights Reserved.
Serving Caldwell, Nampa, Boise and the surrounding Idaho areas.

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