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The Lawyer Referral Service (LRS) is operated as a public service of the Idaho State Bar. All LRS attorneys are members in good standing with the Idaho State Bar with no pending public disciplinary complaints and carry professional liability insurance. LRS attorneys have agreed to provide their clients with an initial up to a half-hour consultation at no fee. The fee for a referral is $35 unless the cases are personal injury, medical malpractice, or workers’ compensation which receive a free referral. After the initial consultation, any further fees are to be negotiated between the lawyer and the client. Not all Idaho State Bar attorneys are members of the LRS service.

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The Idaho Volunteer Lawyers Program (IVLP) provides a safety net for low-income individuals and families in Idaho who require civil legal services and cannot afford to pay for them. IVLP recruits attorneys from local communities who volunteer their time and expertise to assist those in need.

Twenty Facts about Divorce

  1. Divorce is always painful for children, no matter how old they are.
  2. Divorce does not end the relationship between your spouse, it just changes the rules of the relationship.
  3. You are not the only parent going through divorce.
  4. You do not have to hate your spouse to get divorced.
  5. The divorce takes place psychologically for children on the day of the separation.
  6. Two people living apart cannot live as cheaply as two people living together.
  7. Two people living apart cannot see their children as often as two people living together.
  8. Divorcing parents generally are upset by any extra time the other parent may have with the children.
  9. Courts do not want to place children with a parent who is systematically trying to destroy the other parent.
  10. Never ask a child to decide who he or she wants to live with.
  11. You should be willing to do whatever you want your spouse (or ex-spouse) to do.
  12. Unhappy parents cannot raise happy children.
  13. Child support payments are intended to support your children, not to serve as extra spending money for your ex-spouse.
  14. When parents live apart, children have more opportunities to manipulate them.
  15. It is hard when children cannot spend time with someone they love.
  16. A parent should not become a “friend” for their child(ren) and a child should not become a parent or a “friend” to their parent(s).
  17. The more consistency parents provide in their children’s lives, the healthier the children’s adjustment will be.
  18. The more flexibility a parent has regarding placement and visitation arrangements, the more comfortable children are likely to be.
  19. Divorce is a process, not an event.
  20. WINNING IS NEVER MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE WELL-BEING OF YOUR CHILDREN.

To Cope with Parents Living Apart, Children Need…

Love

Children measure how much parents love them by how much contact they have with each parent. Contact every day or every week with a parent feels like lots of love. No contact at all feels like no love at all. Have frequent contact with your children — in person, on the phone, and through the mail. Children’s biggest fear is being abandoned and they worry “if one parent can leave the other, maybe both parents can leave me.” Children wonder “if one parent has stopped loving the other, will they stop loving me?”

Children need to hear parents will be OK and parents will always take care of them — no matter what. Chidren need to know their parents will ALWAYS love them because the love parents have for their children is different than the love parents had for each other. Let your children know “PARENTS ARE FOREVER.”

Reassurance

Children need to know they did not cause the problems between their parents. Children’s second biggest fear is that they caused the conflict or separation or divorce or that a parent left because of something the child did (or didn’t do). Be sure to tell your children the conflict or separation or divorce is not their fault.

This fear is greater if parents disagree about when the children should be with dad and when they should be with mom. When parents fight about their children, children naturally believe they are to blame for their parents not getting along.

Predictability

Children’s third biggest fear is ‘what will happen to me?’ They want to know: “where will I live?,” “which school will I go to?,” “when will I be with dad?,” “when will I be with mom?,” “what about sports?,” “will I be in the same scout or 4-H group?,” and so on. When the family life is changed by divorce, the child’s sense of security is shaken. Children need to know who will take care of them and which parent is ON-DUTY at which times. As soon as both parents agree, both parents together should tell children where they will live, sleep, go to school, and when they will be with each parent, their brothers and sisters, their friends, and relatives.

Remember, children under age 7 need a fairly rigid routine in order to have predictability. More flexible arrangements often feel like chaos to young children.

Continuity

When big changes happen, children do best when some things in their life stay the same. Reducing the number of changes for children helps give them continuity and stability. At the time of separation or divorce (or any other BIG change), if children can remain in the same home, or the same neighborhood, or go to the same school, or go to the same childcare, or attend the same church, or have the same friends, or go to the same after-school activities…it helps them cope. Of course, everything can’t stay the same–that’s the nature of divorce, but keeping some things the same for children really helps.

Permission to Love Both Parents

Children need to know it is alright for them to love both parents even if their parents don’t love each other. Children benefit when parents encourage the relationship between their children and the other parent.

Self-image and self-esteem are made up from what children know about their parents. They have been told all their lives they are like their parents…’you have your father’s curly, thick hair,’ ‘you have your mother’s sense of humor,’ ‘you have your father’s charm,’ ‘you have your mother’s eyes.’ When children hear bad things about their parents…the divorce is one parent’s fault or one is a jerk or one drinks too much or one is a lazy bum, children believe these messages are true about themselves also.

Make sure your children can be proud of both their parents and hear good things about their parents. All parents make mistakes. Even if you believe the other parent IS a jerk, it causes unnecessary harm to tell children. Children feel defensive when someone criticizes their mom or dad. Children are stuck in the middle of having to choose sides when they hear negative things about their parents. Remember, even if you no longer love the other parent, your children love both of you and it hurts them to hear bad things about someone they love.

Respect

Even when paretns disagree with their children, responsive parents respect their children, their children’s feelings, interests, and opinions. Responsive parents listen to their children without giving advice. When children are hurt or angry or scared or sad, parents may be uncomfortable and wish they were happy instead. Children need to be told their feelings are normal and OK. Don’t make the mistake some parents do when they argue about feelings: ‘there’s nothing to feel sad about’ or ‘don’t worry’ or ‘don’t be angry.’ Don’t try to fix feelings. Parents build a strong sense of worth in children by listening and soothing children when they feel sad or lonely or scared.

My children know I love them because:

  • I tell them I love them.
  • we have a regular schedule of contact each week.
  • I support them financially.
  • I attend their sports activities.
  • I go to their school events and parent teacher conferences.
  • I spend one-on-one time with each child each week.
  • I help them with their homework.
  • I cook meals for them.
  • I listen to them without giving solutions or advice at least once a week.
  • I don’t normally plan other activities when they are scheduled to be with me.
  • I don’t make promises to them I can’t keep.
  • I don’t break promises I make to them.
  • I play games or read with them.
  • I am interested in them, their friends, their hobbies, their sports.

My children know they did not cause the problems between their mom/dad and I because:

  • we tell them our problems are grown-up problems and they didn’t cause them.
  • both parents attend our children’s special events just like we always have.
  • we tell them we will always love them and they haven’t done anything to cause the problems between us.
  • we tell them even though we are living apart, we love them and will be with them often and regularly.

My children have predictability in their lives because:

  • the calendar at each home lets them know what will be happening and which parent is ON-DUTY each day.
  • they know in advance how they will spend holidays each year.
  • the other parent and I follow similar routines at each home for our children under age 6.
  • their scheduled activities are put on the calendar at both homes.
  • we follow a regular schedule for them to be with each parent.
  • I don’t plan activities for them when the other parent is ON-DUTY.

My children have continuity and stability in their lives because:

  • they attend the same school they attended last year.
  • they have some of the same friends they had last year.
  • they attend the same youth group they attended last year.
  • they live in the same home they lived in last year.
  • they have regular contact with both parents.
  • they live in the same neighborhood they lived in last year.
  • their parents attend their special events the same as before.
  • they are on the same sports teams they were on last year.
  • they go to the same child care provider as last year.
  • some of the rules at home are the same.

My children know it is really OK for them to love and care about their other parent because:

  • I rarely say anything negative about their other parent.
  • I don’t blame problems on their other parent.
  • I am not jealous when my children have a good time with their other parent.
  • I don’t compete with the other parent for my children’s attention.
  • I don’t act happy or agree with my children when they complain about their other parent.
  • I don’t act hurt or sad when my children want to be with their other parent.
  • I don’t schedule activities for my children on their other parent’s time with them.
  • it is ‘no big deal’ to mention the other parent around me.
  • I don’t let others talk negatively about my children’s other parent in front of my children.

My children know I respect them because:

  • we can disagree with each other without being angry.
  • I focus on their strengths – not only on their weaknesses.
  • I listen, but I don’t try to solve their problems for them.
  • I can accept they have their own opinions (even when I disagree).
  • I can accept their choices about…(depends on age) their hairstyles, earrings, clothing, classes, room decor, spending their allowance or income, food.
  • I don’t make fun of them (if they are not laughing, it isn’t funny).
  • I don’t call them names (idiot, clumsy, chicken, crybaby).
  • I don’t put down their ideas or comments (how stupid!, you’ll never be big enough to play football!)

Child Development and Parents Who Don’t Live Together

In general,

  1. Children need residential arrangements that A) are specific and predictable, B) keep them out of the middle of their parents’ conflict, C) keep changes to a minimum, and D) allow for healthy relationships with each parent.
  2. SPECIFIC AND PREDICTABLE schedules encourage more time with each parent and eliminate some parental conflict.
  3. HEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS WITH PARENTS requires parents to share their worries, fears, and concerns with adult support people and NEVER their children. Healthy relationships happen when parents reassure their children instead of allowing children to be in the role of reassuring their parents. Children should NEVER be the “best friend” of a parent.
  4. UNRESOLVED CONFLICT harms children. When parents are cooperating together for their children’s needs, almost any schedule will work. Schedules which work well for children whose parents cooperate together do not automatically work well for children whose parents cannot agree. Children become very stressed and get stuck in the middle of conflict whenever parents:
    1. ask children to give messages to the other parent, or
    2. ask children about the personal life of the other parent, or
    3. criticize or cut down the other parent to the children, or
    4. are hurt or jealous when children enjoy or miss the other parent, or
    5. discuss with children their problems and hurts from the marriage, or
    6. treat the other parent with hostility and threats around the children.
  5. Every child is unique and has individual needs. Parents must consider their children as individuals when fashioning shared parenting arrangements. Children with “fussy” or “difficult” temperaments are more vulnerable to life changes and stress and may need more help adjusting to divorce.
  6. Parenting often involves putting the parent’s needs second.
  7. Children whose parent s have been away (perhaps in the military or because of job requirements), need to build trust gradually and get to know the parent before jumping into a regular shared parenting schedule.
  8. Using this information to fuel a custody conflict is a misuse of the information. Conflict about custody is harmful to children and may indicate one or both parents are unable to put their children’s needs before parents’ desires.

Infants (0 – 12 months old)

Infants have limited memory and are beginning to recognize caregivers. Because bonding involves all of the senses, the physical presence of a parent rather than just hearing their voice is important.

Attachment between a parent and infant emerges during the second six months of the infant’s life and continues to develop during early childhood. Children form an attachment through a gradual process of having basic needs met by someone who feeds them whey they are hungry, changes them when they are wet, comforts them when they are upset, talks to them, plays with them, cuddles, rocks, and who comes when they cry. Infants begin to trust their needs will be met and that the world is a safe place. They form attachments to caregivers who satisfy their needs and soothe their discomfort and fears. Children can develop multiple attachments to caregivers.

Infants this young have limited memories and need frequent contact with parents–daily for an hour or so, if possible. The younger the child, the more frequent the contacts need to be with shorter durations. Predictable patterns of contact and familiarity is important–same location every time, if possible. Frequent and shorter contacts can help attachment and are much better than longer times spaced far apart. The more frequently the parent is available, the longer the contact can be. It is hard for infants to tolerate long times if they only see the parent once or twice a week. Also, take care not to disrupt the attachment of the parent living with the infant. Overnight away should probably not occur until older.

Infants need smooth routines and to be away from emotional upset of parents. They need sensitive and cooperative interactions with caregivers. When parents are in conflict, reduce frequency of contact between parents to protect infant.

Toddlers (12 – 36 months old)

In addition to building attachment and forming trust, toddlers begin to develop sense of self and the ability to use familiar objects and toys for comforting self. This means the child is beginning to feel safe and comfortable in the world away from a primary caregiver for short periods. Comfort for toddlers comes from having a strong connection to caregivers who meet basic needs and respond to the toddler in warm and predictable ways. Toddlers will check back frequently to see if the primary caregiver is still there for them.

The loss of a primary caregiver and the loss of a familiar and comfortable environment are the most deep seated fears the toddler has. Two and three year old’s may have trouble handling divorce because of their huge fears of losing a caregiver. Expect normal separation anxiety to be exaggerated. Parents underestimate the ability of two and three year old’s to use information about what is going on around them. Parents should tell toddlers about what happened to the absent parent and why, in ways they can understand.

A regular, frequent schedule is of major importance. Short times of 1-3 hours are recommended if frequency is low. If contact is regular and frequent, the child can handle most of a day. Toddlers need predictability and familiarity and contact works best when un familiar places every time.

Toddlers have better memory, so they can go longer periods of time without seeing a parent, but routine and frequency are still important. Toddlers struggle to figure out that someone out of sight can and will return, so it is hard for them to cope with long times away from a primary caregiver. Many three year old’s tolerate overnights OK, but weekends or long times during summer are hard.

Pre-schoolers (3 – 5 years old)

Pre-schoolers are learning to talk and can talk about their feelings and needs. They are learning to control their emotions and bodily functions and are beginning to understand what tomorrow is. These children can now hold in mind a picture of a comforting parent when away from him or her and so they can usually tolerate separation from their parents and caregivers. As they become more independent, they wonder if they still will be loved if they oppose a parent’s will. The primary fear is of losing parental love.

Children are strongly affected by interparental conflict. Children who are distressed during the transition but are OK within 30 minutes, may be responding to their parents’ tension instead of their own. They need each parent’s permission to love and enjoy being with the other parent. They need honest and frequent comforting from parents because they feel huge worries about being abandoned.

Pre-schoolers are bewildered about the separation and often use fantasy as a coping skill. They fantasize about their parents being together and may deny the divorce has happened. Children this age often assume it is their unlovability that caused the separation and they feel guilty. Besides intense fear of abandonment, children worry about food, shelter, and seeing the other parent. They may reach out randomly for nurturing or cling to parents and appear emotionally needy.

School age (6 – 8 years old)

At about age 6, guilt begins to develop and realizing others have feelings first starts. Children learn to make friends, get along with teachers, use moral judgement, have greater self-control of impulses, and feel they are competent. They have a better sense of time and can understand a schedule alternating from one home to the other.

As empathy develops, children are very sensitive to subtle pressures and loyalty conflicts between parents. They may believe they are being disloyal to one parent when they love and enjoy being with the other parent. They fear the loss of a parent. As moral judgement develops, children have difficulty understanding people can be both good and bad. Children this age have difficulty not going along with their parents’ wishes and may blame themselves for the break-up. They may tell each parent they want to live with that parent. Although fewer children this age believe they caused the divorce, many actively try trickery, illness, or accidents to get their parents together again.

At about ages 7-8, there is a major shift in thinking ability which helps children to understand cause and effect better and thinking about the future and “forever.” Reducing changes is especially critical for children this age. They need to grieve. Children who don’t resolve this grief can become very depressed. Children are more likely to grieve if their parents grieve, so don’t hide your own feelings of sadness about the divorce. This is not to say children should be overwhelmed by a sense of their parent’s sadness, because they need to know someone is in control and their needs will be met.

Children this age need regular, frequent contact with each parent, shielding from parental hostility, involvement of both parents in a child’s life, and regular school attendance. The schedule should allow the child to maintain contact with friends, school, and after-school activities. Many children still require a home base while being with other parent from 1 – 3 days/week. Some children can tolerate alternating half-weeks at each parent’s home. Multiple overnights are usually OK and a full week at each parent’s home can usually be phased in by age 8.

Children should be encouraged NOT to carry information back and forth between homes and to talk directly with each parent about rules in that household.

School age (9 – 12 years old)

At these ages, children develop skills in school academics, sports, and community activities. They get to know themselves better and can evaluate their own strengths and weaknesses as compared to others.

Children this age are able to join in discussions and have a grasp of adult issues including divorce. Commonly, 9-12 year old’s demand explanation. Give them basic information, but no details of unhappiness or actions of parents. Children this age are able to genuinely empathize with their parents’ attitudes, feelings, and reason for divorce. The child can see the world from someone else’s point of view. This leads to concern and caring about the parent’s pain and can lead to the child taking care of the parent.

Children this age are also very idealistic and are starting to have moral judgements. Children this age can have relationships on an equal basis with each parent. In a divorce situation, a child’s idealism can easily produce a sense of rage. This rage is frequently directed at the parent whose behavior the child decides is at odds with his/her own sense of standards and therefore (in the child’s mind) is to blame for the break-up of the family.

Because children this age are capable of empathy, parents should use someone else for talking about their problems, daily difficulties, or the loneliness of the nights. While children of divorce may be given more responsibility to help the family cope with the amount of work, parents should take care to avoid burdening the child to the point of eliminating play.

Children benefit when parents are able to reduce life changes for the child and reduce conflict between the parents. It is especially important for parents to maintain a regular and predictable contact with the child, even if the child is intensely angry at the parent. They need parents to avoid blaming each other and to be honest.

Children this age need involvement of both parents and are most content with several contacts a week with each parent. The schedule should be regular and predictable and minimize interference with peer relationships, school, and after-school activities. Many children desire one home base with specific evenings, weekends, and activities at the other home. Some children do well with equal contact in each home. Some children prefer less contact, may be every other week. At this age, children need more flexibility.

Teenagers (13 – 17 years old)

Younger teens are figuring out who they are in relation to friends’ and society’s rules. Middle teens focus on how they think and feel about themselves. They develop a sense of purpose, clarify long-term plans and values and have a growing sense of who one really is and where one is headed. Older teens are focused on taking increased responsibility for what they do and who they are. Teens also learn intimacy, which allows for openness, honesty, self-disclosure, and trust in relationships.

Teens need parents’ permission for independence and encouragement for taking responsibility. They need parents to provide closeness, concern, and fairness. From age 12, children are usually able to understand the divorce process and separate themselves from their parents’ actions and reactions.

Teens are capable of forming an independent opinion about where and with whom they want to live. This opinion should be considered but not necessarily followed. Some teens pick the parent who leaves as the enemy and some blame the remaining parent for not being lovable or supportive enough.

Teens often act as though they can handle anything and that divorce is no big deal. Teens are the last to admit being needy and act as if they don’t care what their parents do. A stance of fierce independence is likely to mislead parents into believing that the teen needs less support than is actually the case.

Teens do well when both parents stay involved with them, when parents don’t start acting like teens, when parents don’t involve teens in parent worries, and don’t expose teens to parents’ sexuality. Teens need protection, a lot of encouragement, recognition of real and honest effort, and a sense they are lovable as they are — not for what they do. It is important that parents not handle their own guilt by becoming extra permissive toward their children. Remind teens a variety of behaviors for adults are not acceptable for teens.

Teens need some say in planning the schedule. Teens do not need contact of long duration with either parent and flexibility in shared parenting is required. Contact once or twice each week for an hour or more may be enough. Some teens need one home base with regular and predictable evenings, weekends, and activities at the other home. Some teens prefer a more equal basis with each parent. Maintain accessibility to school, peers, after-school, and community involvements from both homes.

A teen who has primarily lived with one parent commonly wants to move in with the other parent. It is also common for a teen who has gone back and forth between homes to desire one home base.

My children are fine…if they were stressed I would know

School Age (6 – 8 years old) — red flags for parents

  • intense sadness and despair — doesn’t smile or laugh
  • fear about the future — secretive
  • more irritable, restless, whiny, anxious
  • physical pains — headaches, stomachaches
  • angry, aggressive, or temper tantrums
  • misbehaves at school or grades slip
  • difficulty with small changes in routine
  • problems making and keeping friends
  • stealing or lying

School Age (9 – 12 years old) — red flags for parents

  • extreme anger at a parent
  • takes on adult responsibility at home
  • tries to take care of or “be there” for a parent
  • physical pains — headaches, stomachaches
  • becoming overactive in school or grades slip
  • resentment — won’t communicate
  • fear about the future — secretive
  • problems making and keeping friends
  • tries alcohol or drugs or cigarettes

Teenagers (13 – 17 years old) — red flags for parents

  • extreme anger at a parent
  • over closeness to a parent
  • competition with a parent
  • chronic fatigue or difficulty concentrating
  • becoming overactive in school, sports, music, clubs, work
  • problems at school or drop in grades or dropping out
  • sexually active
  • extreme independence or refusal of support
  • problems making and keeping friends
  • uses alcohol or drugs or cigarettes
  • moody and depressed
  • violent

My children are stressed out…What can I do?

Infants (0 – 12 months old)

  • keep infants away from emotional upset of parents
  • predictable pattern of contact with parents
  • familiar places — same location each time with parent
  • smooth routines — especially naps, bedtimes, and meals
  • consider no overnights until signs of stress disappear
  • more frequent contact with parent if conflict is low
  • warm and affectionate child care person
  • lots of colors, shapes for child to see and hear
  • be more aware of how infants are feeling

Toddlers (12 – 36 months old)

  • shield children from conflict between parents
  • predictable routine of schedule with both parents
  • frequent contact with both parents if conflict is low
  • if frequency is low, short times of 1 – 3 hours
  • familiar places — same location each time with parent
  • smooth routines — especially naps, bedtimes, and meals
  • consider no overnights for a while
  • consider fewer transitions between homes for a while
  • warm and affectionate child care person
  • explain that mommy and daddy both love the child even though mommy and daddy live in two places
  • be a broken record because their memory doesn’t work well
  • stimulating environment for child

Pre-schoolers (3 – 5 years old)

  • shield children from conflict between parents
  • predictable routine of schedule with both parents
  • frequent contact with both parents if conflict is low
  • familiar places — same location each time with parent
  • consider fewer or no overnights for a while
  • consider fewer transitions between homes for a while
  • warm and affectionate child care person
  • explain that mommy and daddy both love the child even though mommy and daddy live in two places
  • give permission for child to love other parent
  • explain the child is lovable and did nothing to cause the problems between mommy and daddy
  • be a broken record because their memory doesn’t work well

School Age (6 – 8 years old)

  • shield children from conflict between parents
  • predictable routine schedule with both parents
  • show children how to grieve, what to do about sadness
  • reduce changes in the life of the child
  • both parents be involved in child’s school and sports
  • encourage contact with child’s friends
  • give convincing permission for child to love other parent
  • don’t let child be messenger between parents
  • don’t listen to child complain about other parent
  • tell child to talk directly with other parent
  • don’t say negative things about other parent

School Age (9 – 12 years old)

  • shield children from conflict between parents
  • predictable schedule with both parents
  • show children what to do about anger
  • reduce changes in the life of the child
  • both parents be involved in child’s school and sports
  • don’t burden the child with adult problems or loneliness
  • don’t burden the child with too many chores at home
  • don’t let child be messenger between parents
  • don’t listen to child complain about other parent
  • tell child to talk directly with other parent
  • don’t say negative things about other parent

Teenagers (13 – 17 years old)

  • shield teens from conflict between parents
  • give teens some say in schedule with parents
  • predictable schedule with both parents with flexibility
  • show teens what to do with anger
  • both parents be involved in teen’s school and sports
  • don’t discuss problems or worries with teens
  • don’t discuss parent’s dating or sexuality with teens
  • don’t put teens in charge of younger siblings daily
  • don’t let teens be messengers between parents
  • don’t listen to teens complain about the other parent
  • don’t say negative things about other parent
  • don’t be to over missive

Love and Care for your Children — Nurturing Children

Provide Emotional Security

  • talk and act so that children feel safe and comfortable expressing themselves
  • be gentle
  • be dependable

Provide Physical Security

  • provide food, shelter, clothing
  • teach personal hygiene and nutrition
  • monitor safety
  • maintain a family routine
  • attend to wounds

Provide Discipline

  • be consistent
  • ensure rules are appropriate to age and development of child
  • be clear about limits and expectations
  • use discipline to give instruction, not punish

Give Time

  • participate in your children’s lives: activities, school, sports, special events and days, celebrations, friends
  • include your children in your activities
  • reveal who you are to your children

Encourage and Support

  • be affirming
  • encourage children to follow their interests
  • let children disagree with you
  • recognize improvement
  • teach new skills
  • let them make mistakes

Give Affection

  • express verbal and physical affection
  • be affectionate when your children are physically or emotionally hurt

Care for Yourself

  • give yourself personal time
  • keep yourself healthy
  • maintain friendships
  • accept love

Trust and Respect

  • acknowledge children’s right to have own feelings, friends, activities, and opinions
  • promote independence
  • allow for privacy
  • respect feelings for other parent
  • believe your children

Sources:

Caught in the Middle. Garrity, Carla B. & Baris, Mitchell A.; Lexington Books, 1994
The Child’s Attorney. Haralambie, Ann M.; American Bar Association, 1993
Children of Divorce. Baris, Mitchell A. & Garrity, Carla B.; Blue Ridge Printing, 1988
The Children’s Book. Erickson, Marilyn & Erickson, Stephen; CPI Publishing, 1992
Domestic Abuse Intervention Project, 206 West Fourth Street, Duluth, MN 55806, (218)722-2781
Interventions for Children of Divorce, 2nd Edition. Hodges, William F.; John Wiley & Sons, 1991
Second Chances. Wallerstein, Judith & Blakeslee, Sandra; Ticknor & Fields, 1989

Focus On Children Workshop

The workshop is mandatory throughout the state of Idaho & consistently demonstrates its effectiveness in keeping parents focused on reducing conflict for the sake of their children.

NOTE:

  • Focus on Children In-Person Classes have been transitioned to our online format.
  • You are still being ordered to take this course.
  • Outside Online Courses WILL NOT be accepted.
  • Family Court Services staff will additionally contact you to discuss the online transition.

IMPORTANT:

IF YOU DO NOT ATTEND THE WORKSHOP AS REQUIRED, IF YOU DISRUPT A WORKSHOP, IF YOU DO NOT STAY UNTIL IT IS OVER, WATCH THE CONTENT IN ITS ENTIRETY, COMPLETE MATERIALS, OR IF YOU FAIL TO PAY THE REQUIRED FEES, THE COURT MAY HOLD YOU IN CONTEMPT AND TAKE FAILURE TO FOLLOW THE ORDER INTO CONSIDERATION IN MAKING FUTURE CUSTODY DECISIONS.

Focus on Children offers:

  • Information and options on how to help your children during this transition.
  • How parental conflict affects children and how to reduce conflict.
  • Children’s reactions to the separation and/or ongoing conflict between parents.
  • Attachment and developmental issues of children explained by a mental health professional.
  • Education on Judicial processes and resources: least invasive, parental control.
  • Community & online resources.

Sixth District Class Details
Counties of:  Bannock, Bear Lake, Caribou, Franklin, Oneida-Power

This class is currently being offered through our ONLINE format. Please contact:

Lacy Parker
208-236-7416
208-236-7432
lacyp@bannockcounty.us
arianned@bannockcounty.us

Payment Options

IMPORTANT:  Please use one of the below payment options to make your $35 class payment. Once you have made your payment, Family Court Services will e-mail you a link to the class video along with a questionnaire to complete and submit.

You will need to make your payment and complete the class NO LATER THAN YOUR COURT ORDERED ATTENDANCE DATE.

PHONE PAYMENT WITH COURT RECORDS/CLERKS OFFICE:

Please call the county where your case is out of to make a payment over the phone.

Bannock County 208-236-7352
Bear Lake County 208-945-2205 ext. 5
Caribou County 208-547-4342
Franklin County 208-852-0877
Oneida County 208-766-4116 ext.114
Power County 208-226-7618

In-Person Payment at Courthouse:

Please come in and visit room your local courthouse (Court Records) to make your payment in person via cash, money order, or check.

Drop Payment off at Courthouse, Bannock County Only:

Drop off payment via cash, check, cashier check, or money order in the Bonds & Fines drop box in front of the courthouse. Please attention it to Diane and include your name, case number, purpose of payment (Focus on Children), and phone number in case there is an issue with payment. Please be aware that drop off payments will take longer to process.

Cash, check, money order and credit card (3% service fee) are all accepted. Parents are required to find care accommodations for their children when attending an In-Person workshop.

Parenting Plan Information

It is important Parents remember this is about the needs of the child. Parents should remain flexible. It may require some sacrifices on the part of the adults. You will be less likely to experience difficulty if you can truly think about it from the child’s point of view.

For the Parenting Plan Agreement and more information, CLICK HERE.

One of the most difficult challenges facing parents at the time of separation is deciding how they will divide responsibility for and time with their children. Before designing a plan for your family, parents should consider your unique situation. Raising children is difficult for all parents.

  • Parents sometimes feel a loss of their adult relationship will also mean a loss of their parent-child relationship.
  • Parents sometimes feel concerned about the potential negative impact of their separation on their children’s healthy development.
  • When parents live in separate homes the challenges are greater because relationships are more complicated.
  • Sometimes one parent disagrees about how much time a child should spend with the other.
  • If you are unable to reach an agreement on your Parenting Plan, you may want to seek the assistance of a Mediator in negotiating a Parenting Plan.
  • Even if you are certain that you can work things out as they occur, having a detailed plan to fall back on is the best way to guard against conflicts in the future.

What is a Parenting Plan?

A parenting plan is a document that states when the children will be with each parent (parenting time or physical custody) and how major decisions will be made (legal custody). Materials on this page contain information for crafting developmentally sensitive parenting plans for parents to use in reaching agreements or presenting proposals to the court. Parents are encouraged to read this material and seek additional information and advice in order to make the best decisions for their children.

For more information, please contact:

Sixth Judicial District
Family Court Services
Lacy Parker, FCSM, LMSW
624 E. Center St. Room 106
Pocatello ID 83201
208-236-7416

NOTICE TO READERS: These considerations do not provide legal opinions or legal advice and are not intended to serve as a substitute for the advice of licensed, legal professionals. Neither the Idaho Supreme Court, the Administrative Office of the Courts, nor the authors are engaged in rendering legal or other professional services through this guide. The Idaho Supreme Court, the Administrative Office of the Courts and the authors do not warrant that the information herein is complete or accurate and do not assume and hereby disclaim any liability to any person for any loss or damage caused by errors, inaccuracies, or omissions that may appear in this guide. Laws and interpretations of laws change frequently, and research may be ongoing and updated. The material contained in these pages may carry with it important legal consequences. Users of this material are solely responsible for determining the applicability of any information contained in this guide to their situation and are strongly encouraged to seek professional legal and other expert assistance in resolving their parenting issues. These parenting time resources are intended to provide helpful ideas in making decisions about parenting time and not be a substitute for legal advice.

These considerations are a tool for you to use to design a parenting plan that will work best for you and your children.

Mediation is a process where  a third-party person, known as a Mediator, is appointed by the courts to help parties move toward a mutually acceptable agreement about custody and visitation. 

  • Mediation is confidential and involves both parents meeting one or more times with a court approved mediator.
  • Each party has an equal role in decision-making during the mediation process.
  • As a neutral party, the mediator works with the parents to find areas of agreement for a parenting plan.
  • Agreements reached can be drafted by the mediator and provided to the parents and/or attorneys.
  • Mediated agreements will need to be entered properly in the court file and finalized by an order by the judge.

Who are the mediators?

A mediator is an impartial person, outside of your case, that has been specially trained to assist in resolving custody disputes. The Idaho Supreme Court maintains a Roster of Mediators who meet minimum standards for training.

For a roster of Assessors and Evaluators contact (208) 236-7416.

Financial Assistance is offered to eligible parties and can help offset the costs of eligible services. You can find an application for funding by clicking here.

Why do courts order mediation?

A working, mutual agreement between parents is usually preferable to a court imposed one. Courts require that all parties ordered to mediation, shall participate in good faith. Parents who work together, act responsibly, minimize costs in time and money, and reduce the stress on everyone involved, including, most importantly, the child.

Introduction to Mediation Services

For a Family Resource Booklet in preperation for Mediation, click here.

Disagreements are usually settled based on power or rights or interests. Disputants who don’t have to deal with each other ever again, often settle disputes using power or rights. Disputants who deal with each other after settlement are more willing to settle disputes in a way that gives some satisfaction to all sides. Mediation is not based on power or rights. Agreements which are somewhat satisfactory to all involved are important for people who will have dealings with each other after settlement.

POWER — The person with the most power or money gets to decide.

RIGHTS — Someone, perhaps a judge, decides based on who has the rights or who is right.

INTERESTS — Agreements based on each person’s wants instead of bargaining over positions.

Mediators do:

  • help you recognize how what you want is important to you
  • level the playing field by managing the process
  • let you talk without being interrupted
  • clarify concerns to avoid misunderstandings
  • help you get a fresh look at options
  • provide realistic understanding of what happens when mediation doesn’t work
  • keep confidential what is discussed in mediation
  • draft up any agreements you make
  • report to the court whether or not agreement is reached

Mediators don’t:

  • make decisions for you
  • give legal advice
  • fix personalities or relationships
  • take either side
  • pressure you to agree to something you don’t really want
  • testify in court

To make the most of the mediation process:

  • bring up and discuss your issues and concerns
  • focus on what your children need to thrive (in custody matters)
  • brainstorm options which meet the other party’s needs also
  • consider many possibilities–be creative–no threats or ultimatums
  • show respect to the other party–no blaming, no name-calling, no put-downs
  • focus on the future instead of getting stuck on what went wrong in the past
  • be honorable–say what you mean and mean what you say

You are strongly encouraged to have your attorney advise you throughout the mediation process and review any agreement reached in mediation. Depending on the number of issues, agreement can generally be reached in 5 – 10 hours. The fewer the issues, the faster the process.

Why Supervised Visits? 

Third-person visitation arrangement is often called “supervised visitation” for many reasons, like:

  • To give the visiting parent a chance to address specific issues,
  • To help reintroduce a parent after a long absence
  • To help introduce a parent and a child when there has been no existing relationship between the parent and child,
  • When there is a history or allegations of domestic violence, child abuse, and neglect, or substance abuse,
  • When there are parenting concerns or mental illness; or
  • When there is a parental threat of abduction.

The court order will specify the time and duration of the visits. Sometimes, the court order will also specify who the provider is to be and where the visits are to take place.

Who is a Supervised Provider?

There are three types of supervised visitation providers:

  • The non-professional provider,
  • The professional provider,
  • The therapeutic provider.

The professional and therapeutic providers usually charge a fee for services and are experienced and trained to provide supervised visitation services. The non-professional provider is usually a family member or friend who does not provide supervised visitation services. Your court order will usually say which type of provider you have to use to supervise these visits.

How can I find a Supervised Provider?

Family Court Services maintains a current roster of Supervised Access Providers for our area.
208-236-7416 / lacyp@bannockcounty.us

Financial Assistance is offered to eligible parties and can help offset the costs of Supervised Visits with a professional provider. For the financial application, click here.

 

Sixth Judicial District Guardianship and Conservatorship Monitoring Program

Sandra E. Thoen, B.S. Health Care Administration
Guardianship and Conservatorship Monitoring Coordinator
sandrat@bannockcounty.us
(208)-236-7422

What is a Guardian? 

A Guardian is a court-appointed person responsible for the care, custody, and control of the PERSON under guardianship on a temporary or permanent basis.

What is a Conservator? 

A Conservator is a person appointed by a probate court to manage the ESTATE of the person under conservatorship on a temporary and a permanent basis.

What is the Guardianship/Conservatorship Monitoring Program?

The overall goal of court monitoring is to help ensure: (1) persons under guardianship or conservatorship are protected against abuse, neglect, or exploitation; (2) that appointed persons understand and fulfill their duties and responsibilities both prior to and during their appointment; (3) implementation of streamlined policies, procedures, and forms; and (4) a third party review system for monitoring the care of persons under protective proceedings.  It is the duty of the GCMP to oversee guardianship and/or conservatorship cases that have been established by the Court and track the well-being of the vulnerable person through reporting requirements and monitoring.

Annual Reporting and Where to Get The Form Templates

All Guardians and Conservators are to complete Guardian’s Status Reports and Conservator’s Accounting Reports every year.  Reports are due on the anniversay date of your appointment as Guardian and/or Conservator. 

Example:  If your appointment date was January 2, 2018,  your reports are due January 2, 2019, and on January 2 every year thereafter.

You may obtain Annual Report Templates by clicking here.

You may  file a formal complaint regarding a Guardianship or Conservatorship by clicking here.

Caregiver Resources

  • FREE Guardianship and Conservatorship Workshop.  Date to be determined. Please call Sandra Thoen for more information.
  • 1:1 Q/A Sessions Available.  Sandra Thoen cannot give legal or fiscal advice, but may provide additonal information and resources to assist you to successfully fulfill your duties as a Guardian and Conservator. Please call Sandra to make an appointment.
  • Managing Someone Else’s Money.  Help For Court-Appointed Conservators in Idaho  www.courtselfhelp.idaho.gov
    • A manual created for the purpose of assisting Conservators to understand their duties and responsibilities.
    • Expansive listing of resources, including Government and State agencies replete with contact information.
    • Social Security
    • Railroad Retirement Board
    • Office of Personnel Managemen
    • Veteran’s Administration, etc.
  • Idaho Department of Health and Welfare http://www.healthandwelfare.idaho.gov
    • Offers many programs and services for children and families.
  • Area V Agency on Aging:  www.aging.idaho.gov
    • Adult Protective Services
    • Ombudsman
    • Meals on Wheels
    • Respite Care
    • Powerful Tools for Caregivers (Caregiver Support Group)
    • Community Resource Directory
  • Idaho Commission on Aging:  www.aging.idaho.gov
  • Senior Health Insurance Benefits Advisor (SHIBA): www.doi.idaho.gov
    • Information about Medicare
  • *211 Idaho Care Line 211.idaho.gov
    • Childcare
    • Resources
    • Caregivers
    • Navigation
  • Southeast Idaho Public Health www.siphidaho.org
    • Fluoride Clinic
    • WIC
    • Immunizations
    • Clinical Services

Legal Advice

The Guardianship and Conservatorship Monitoring Coordinator will not offer legal advice.

If you have legal questions, we offer a FREE Attorney Workshop the 2nd Wednesday of each month beginning promptly at 2pm, Room 312 at the Bannock County Courthouse. If your legal needs are urgent, you may seek advice by contacting the Idaho State Bar at (208) 334-4500 or online at http://www.isb.idaho.gov and utilize the “Lawyer Referral Services link.”

NOTICE:  Family Court Services does not represent parties or any of their interests.  While confidentiality practices concerning anything discussed are utilized, it is not guaranteed.  Family Court Services may provide services to the opposing party/ies (other person/s involved in the same case).  Family Court Services can only give information; not interpretations of laws or strategies for any case.  If seeking representation, a confidential consultation, or legal advice, you will have to consult with a private attorney.

DISCLAIMER: Professionals listed are not endorsed by Family Court Services, the Idaho Supreme Court, or Bannock County. This list is not complete nor exhaustive.

Lacy Parker
Family Court Manager
208-236-7416
Arianne Despain
Family Court Administrative Assistance
208-236-7432
Kimberly Talbot 
DV Court Coordinator
208-236-7421
Sandra Thoen
Guardian and Conservator Monitor
208-236-7422

Contact Information

Lacy Parker, LMSW, FCSM
Family Court Services Manager
208-236-7416
lacyp@bannockcounty.us

Arianne Despain
FCS Admin. Assistant
208-236-7432
arianned@bannockcounty.us

Rebekah Gruel
Lead Court Assistance Officer
208-236-7067
cao@bannockcounty.us
rebekahg@bannockcounty.us

Kimberly Talbot, LSW, MPH
Domestic Violence Court Coordinator
208-236-7421
kimberlyt@bannockcounty.us

Sandra Thoen, BS
Guardian & Conservator Monitoring Coordinator
208-236-7422
sandrat@bannockcounty.us

Terrence Pocatilla
DV High Risk Team Coordinator
208-236-7364
terrancep@bannockcounty.us

NOTICE:  Family Court Services does not represent parties or any of their interests.  While confidentiality practices concerning anything discussed are utilized, it is not guaranteed.  Family Court Services may provide services to the opposing party/ies (other person/s involved in the same case).  Family Court Services can only give information; not interpretations of laws or strategies for any case.  If seeking representation, a confidential consultation, or legal advice, you will have to consult with a private attorney.

Helpful Information and Links

Post a Bond for someone at the Sheriff’s Office or call 208-236-7111.

Bannock County Courthouse

624 East Center
Pocatello, Idaho 83201
l

Mission

Providing equal access to justice, promoting excellence in service, and increasing the public’s trust and confidence in the Idaho courts.

Notice

Everything on this web site may not be complete or up to date. If you find any broken links or mistakes please email them to us. Please send us comments and suggestions.

We cannot control changes or be responsible for the content of the sites we link to.

Bannock County Courthouse

624 East Center
Pocatello, Idaho 83201

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