What to do if you've been sued...

Idaho lawsuits are controlled by the Idaho Rules of Civil Procedure.  Once a lawsuit is filed, you must meet the response deadlines (normally 20 days), as well as any other deadlines for cross claims, counter claims, and affirmative defenses.  If you fail to timely respond, then your opponent can apply for (and obtain) a default order against you, which has all the force and effect of a court order, and which cannot be overturned absent some fraud or misdealing on your opponent's part (such as improper or fraudulent service).  If you've been sued (or if you're contemplating a lawsuit), it's important to review the case immediately with your attorney.  They can help you see the relevant facts, legal arguments, and compliance rules necessary to avoiding legal pitfalls. 

Income Tax Turnover Order

In Idaho, every bankruptcy case is subject to the income tax turnover order.  This means that once your case is filed, you have an affirmative duty to turn over your annual tax filings to your case trustee while your case is open and pending.  Some debtors mistakenly think that once their 341 meeting is over they are exempt from this requirement.  They are wrong.  Even if the trustee neglects to ask for them, you are still required to turn them over, along with 100% of any refunds.  Debtors may not discount or deduct credits from the refund check beforehand.  If the trustee determines the debtor is entitled to any creditors, he or she will mail the debtor a check in due time.  Failure to obey this order can result in very severe penalties, including loss of discharge and case dismissal.

What is Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

Chapter 7 bankruptcy is the most common form of bankruptcy in America.  Most people improperly call it  a "medical" bankruptcy.  In law, bankruptcies are only designated by their chapter number.  In chapter 7, you file your petition, schedules, and other required documents and disclosures with the court.  Immediately upon filing, you receive the automatic stay, which is a court order to stay all further creditor action (e.g. calls, collections, lawsuits, wage garnishments, etc.).  You are also assigned a case number and a case trustee.  This trustee will supervise the administrative portion of your case, including conducting your 341 creditors meeting and acting on behalf of creditors interest.  Once he or she has certified your successful completion of the bankruptcy requirements, you will receive a discharge of your debts and your case will close (subject to any oustanding orders, such as the income tax turnover order). 

Idaho's Minor Guardianship Laws

In Idaho, there are two ways to become guardian for a minor child.  First, you can be appointed by the court.  Second, you can be appointed via the parents' last will & testament, upon which you accept your appointment in court.  If the natural parents are still alive, but are unable to discharge their normal parental responsibilities, you must prove to the court that the parents are neglecting, abusing, abandoning, or failing to provide the children with a stable home environment.  Normally, the court will conduct several hearings and will appoint an attorney to represent the children's interest.  If you meet the statutory criteria, including the "best interests of the children criteria," you will be appointed guardian until the children are no longer minors, unless the guardianship is previously terminated (by yourself, the parents, or another interested party).  In determining the length of guardianship, the courts look first and foremost to the children's best interests. 

Are mothers favored in child custody cases?

No.  Some Idaho case law acknowledges a presumption that primary custody with mother (especially during the early years) is presumed best.  But the Idaho Code (section 32-717) looks primarily at parental fitness, home stability, and other factors to determine which parenting schedule works best for the children.  This means that fathers can sometimes get primary custody, even over young children.  As children grow older, the Idaho Code presumes that frequent and meaningful contact with each parent is best, which means a significantly shared schedule.  These presumptions, however, are not binding on the courts, and cases may vary significantly depending on circumstances.

How is child support calculated?

Idaho child support is based upon two primary factors: 1) the adjusted gross income of each parent; and 2), the total number of overnights assigned to each parent.  This means that a parent with "primary" custody can receive little to no child support if the other spouse makes significant less income.  It also means that in a "50/50" custody split, one parent or the other can (and often does) pay some amount of support.  Except for rare instances, the courts do not allow parties to waive child support in a divorce or custody action.  This is because the money is for the children's benefit, and not that of the parent. 

How many times can I modify a child custody order?

Idaho state law doesn't limit the number of times (or how often) you can petition the courts for child custody modification.  The only requirement is that there be a substantial and material change in circumstances since your last order, which now renders the old provision(s) unworkable.  Some examples of this include: parental relocations, starting school, abuse/neglect, and changes in work schedules.  Under the new family law rules, you must articulate these changes in your initial complaint (upon pain of dismissal and/or attorney fees).

Of course, this is not an inherently clear standard.  Most parents wonder if their "changes" are sufficient.  This is why it is important to consult an attorney prior to filing your case.  We can help you research the laws, look for analogous case law/situations, and make a reasoned decision based upon existing standards.  

What is a living trust?

Living trusts can be either revocable or irrevocable.  If revocable, they allow you to hold property, such as real-estate, for the benefit of heirs, which property passes directly upon death without the need of probate.  During your lifetime, you retain full control of your assets.  Irrevocable trusts, however, dominate control of assets during your life, though they offer creditor protection when properly drafted. 

What is informal probate?

Informal probate is a statutory "short form" of traditional probate.  It involves a petition and other documents to the Court, whereupon an estate representative is appointed and the case is "closed" for administration.  You can gather assets, pay claims, and distribute funds--all without court supervision.  Once complete, you file a closing statement with the court and the representative is discharged.  This offers a significant advantage to those without a living trust who wish to keep estate administration out of court. 

What can I do if I'm approached by a police officer on a criminal charge?

If you are approached by a police officer or agent on the street regarding any criminal matter, you should immediately ask him or her if you're being detained.  If they answer "no," then you are free to leave.  If they answer "yes, you are being detained," then you should immediately exercise your right to remain silent and request to speak with your attorney before answering any further questions. 

What is a flat fee retainer agreement?

You can either chose to hire us under a standard hourly retainer, or else you can pay for your entire case, regardless of duration, in one lump sum.  If your case settles early, we keep the surplus, but if it goes beyond estimated time, you don't pay anything extra.  Many people chose the flat fee arrangement due to its simplicity and predictability.  Others prefer to "pay-as-they-go," paying their fees only as they are earned by the firm.  Either way, you get professional representation and outstanding client service.  

Injury Settlements

In any personal injury case, a full and fair settlement is never guaranteed.  This means that you may have to proceed to jury trial in order to recover your just damages.  This can be a long and emotionally draining process, which is why we work hard to ensure your best recovery, while always giving you the option to accept a lesser-amount versus going through the trial process (in which you could get nothing).  We keep you well informed of any pending settlement offers so that you retain maximum control over your case progress.

What kind of injury damages can you recover?

In a pesronal injury case, common recoverable damages include: medical bills, future medical/rehabilitative  expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, property damage, emotional distress, and even spousal compensation.  Of course, the extent of any of these damages is a factual matter, and so will vary from case to case.