In 2001, Title 32, Chapter 14 of the Idaho Code established Coordinated Family Services to promote timely and effective resolutions of family-related disputes involving civil and criminal cases. Coordinated Family Services covers three collaborative yet distinct service areas: Family Court Services (FCS), Court Assistance Offices, and Domestic Violence Courts.
FAMILY COURT SERVICES
The Legislature established the Drug Court, Mental Health Court, and Family Court Services Fund to support a variety of court services, including coordinated Family Court Services. These services are provided in each of Idaho’s judicial districts to support families and assist courts in resolving their cases. In FY2021, the fund supplied $233,858 to support the work involved and offset the cost of services such as supervised visitation, co-parent education, mediation, focused assessments and parenting time evaluations for parents.
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE COURTS
Idaho’s domestic violence courts are designed to promote safety by connecting victims with advocacy and other services while holding offenders accountable through judicial oversight. Currently, Idaho has ten active domestic violence courts in five judicial districts.
The Kootenai County Domestic Violence Court was selected in FY2021 for the Mentor Court Initiative by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women. This follows the Ada County Domestic Violence Court’s selection in 2013. Mentor Courts serve as a national model and share their expertise by hosting national site visits, linking courts with peer-to-peer technical assistance, and assisting other courts across the nation to implement best practices to respond effectively to domestic violence cases. The designation of two national Domestic Violence Mentor Courts demonstrates Idaho’s innovation, leadership, and dedication to best practices, victim safety and offender accountability.
When parents file for a divorce, they receive education on the importance of parenting plans and reducing the effects of conflict on children. In FY2021, the courts ordered over 5,200 cases to co-parent education. The primary education tool is the Focus on Children class, which has been freshly updated following an analysis of current research. The new standardized curriculum was reviewed by psychologists, mental health professionals, mediators, education professionals, attorneys, and judges prior to being approved by the Idaho Supreme Court for use statewide in FY2022.
IDAHO RULES OF FAMILY LAW PROCEDURE
After about five years in use, the Idaho Rules of Family Law Procedure were revised this past year to become more concise and their meaning clearer. Ninety percent of the rules were reworked in response to feedback from attorneys, judges and self-represented litigants; the revision also incorporated public comment. The Idaho Supreme Court approved the amended rules for use starting in July 2021.
GUIDE & FILE
The Guide & File program allows people to complete and file many court forms themselves, including for a civil protection order, divorce without children, minor guardianship, small claims, or changes to a no-contact order. Guide & File helps improve the accuracy and efficiency of any filing by selecting the appropriate forms based on interview questions, while minimizing any delays that illegible forms might cause. In FY2021, over 7,500 people opened a court case in Idaho using Guide & File.
Mediation is an option for both parents and the courts to allow parents to promote decision-making based on the best interests of the children involved. Mediation assists parents in negotiating a parenting plan that is then presented to the court. Parents who reach an agreement through mediation reduce judicial case load and associated costs. If parents reach a partial agreement, it reduces the amount of time and money spent litigating the case, as well as providing a time savings for Idaho courts. Mediation continued virtually during the pandemic, resulting in cases moving toward resolution.
Family Court ServiceS
Links of Interest
Association of Families & Conciliation Courts
An interdisciplinary and international association of professionals dedicated to improving lives of children and families through the resolution of family conﬂict.
National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges
The NCJFCJ, headquartered on the University of Nevada campus in Reno, provides cutting-edge training, wide-ranging technical assistance…