Determining the Best Interests of the Child - Idaho

Date: September 2023

Guiding Principles

Citation: Idaho Code § 16-1601

The policy of the State of Idaho is hereby declared to be the establishment of a legal framework conducive to the judicial processing, including periodic review of child abuse, abandonment, and neglect cases and the protection of any child whose life, health, or welfare is endangered. At all times, the health and safety of the child shall be the primary concern.

Each child coming within the purview of this chapter shall receive, preferably in their own home, the care, guidance, and control that will promote their welfare and the best interests of the State of Idaho; and if they are removed from the control of one or more of their parents, guardian, or other custodian, the State shall secure adequate care for them, provided, however, that the State of Idaho shall, to the fullest extent possible, seek to preserve, protect, enhance, and reunite the family relationship.

Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to allow discrimination based on disability. This chapter seeks to coordinate efforts by State and local public agencies, in cooperation with private agencies and organizations, citizens' groups, and concerned individuals, to do the following:

  • Preserve the privacy and unity of the family, whenever possible
  • Take such actions as may be necessary and feasible to prevent the abuse, neglect, abandonment, or homelessness of children
  • Take such actions as may be necessary to provide the child with permanency, including concurrent planning 
  • Clarify for the purpose of this act the rights and responsibilities of parents with joint legal or joint physical custody of children at risk
  • Maintain sibling bonds by placing siblings in the same home when possible and support or facilitate sibling visitation when not, unless such contact is not in the best interests of one or more of the children

 Best Interests Factors

Citation: Idaho Code § 32-717

When determining a child's custody, the court shall consider all relevant factors, including the following:

  • The wishes of the child's parent or parents as to the child's custody
  • The interaction and interrelationship of the child with their parent or parents and their siblings
  • The child's adjustment to their home, school, and community
  • The character and circumstances of all individuals involved
  • The need to promote continuity and stability in the life of the child
  • Domestic violence, as defined in § 39-6303, regardless of whether it occurred in the presence of the child

Other Considerations

Citation: Idaho Code § 32-717

The court shall consider wishes of the child as to their custodian and the interaction and interrelationship of the child with their siblings.