In Idaho, parents are eligible and encouraged to create a parenting plan which regulates who has primary custody of a child, whether the physical and legal custody should be sole or joint, as well as a visitation schedule for the non-custodial parent. In the majority of cases, the judge will approve this plan. If the parents fail to decide these issues independently, the court usually awards the custody at its own discretion, following a presumption that joint custody is in the child's best interest (except in cases when such an arrangement can be harmful to the child.)
In Idaho, two types of custody may be distinguished. Physical custody determines who provides a primary home for the child and, generally, how much time each parent spends with the child. Legal custody refers to the decision-making authority of the parents.
Both physical and legal custody may be awarded as sole or joint. Joint physical custody means that the child will get to spend significant time with each parent, but does not necessarily require that the amount of time spent with each parent be equal. Joint legal custody means that neither parent can make important decisions affecting the child's life without negotiation with the other party (regardless of who has physical custody).
When awarding custody, the judge considers each divorce separately. The court shall consider numerous factors of a particular case to understand what would be fair for the child and what custody arrangement would provide the best environment for the child.