Iowa Divorce Laws

Iowa Divorce

The state of Iowa requires that individuals filing for divorce in Iowa be state residents for a minimum of one year. Residency requirements are necessary for each state so that the proper jurisdiction can be handled.

Iowa divorceOnly one spouse needs to be an Iowa resident to petition for divorce, but the petition must be filed in the county of residency. A ninety-day waiting period will follow the initial filing before the marriage dissolution shall enter the court.

Iowa divorce residency requirements

In order to meet the Iowa divorce residency requirements, the spouse filing for divorce must have resided in Iowa for a period of no less than one year. The divorce may be filed for in the county in which the filing spouse resides.

Grounds for applying for divorce in Iowa

When applying for dissolution of marriage in Iowa certain grounds must be met. The court of Iowa may grant a divorce if the following is met:

  • A total breakdown of the marriage and there is no possible hope of reconciliation. Iowa Code – Sections 598.5 and 598.17

To apply for dissolution of marriage under this condition the spouse must be able to supply evidence or testimony; otherwise, the case for divorce may be dismissed by the courts.

Filing for Divorce

The divorce petition that will be sent to the circuit court will need to include the grounds for which the divorce is being filed. Iowa has set aside what qualifies for legal divorce reasoning.

It is the couple’s job while filing for divorce to decide on what grounds they will petition. If one individual is bringing a petition to the court, he or she will have to defend his or her grounds for divorce claim to the court.

A divorce will only be granted through the Iowa court if the reasoning for matrimony has been eliminated and the marriage cannot be amended under any circumstances. This is a no-fault claim that can follow marriage counseling or a time period of separation.

When one spouse files for divorce without the assistance of the other spouse, he or she will be served with divorce papers. These papers are a product of over a dozen processed documents. When petitioning for the elimination of marriage, certain documents will need to be processed before a divorce is finalized.

These documents can and most often include a Notice of Final Hearing form, a Verification for Petition form, a Financial Affidavit form, and a Marital Settlement Agreement Form. The court clerk’s office will be responsible for filing and organizing these papers for the hearing.

Filing with the Court in Iowa

You must file your Iowa divorce papers in the court located in the County where you presently reside. We will provide the court information in the documents that we send to you, but some of the courts in Iowa are listed below:

  • Black Hawk (1B)
    P.O. Box 9500, Waterloo 50704-9500.. 319-833-3331
  • Carroll (2B)
    Sixth and Main Streets, PO Box 867, Carroll 51401.. 712-792-4327
  • Clay (3A)
    215 West Fourth Street, Spencer 51301-3890; 712-262-4335
  • Clinton (7)
    612 N Second Street, PO Box 2957, Clinton 52732; 563-243-6210
  • Decatur (5B)
    07 North Main Street, Leon 50144; 641-446-4331
  • Des Moines
    513 North Main St, PO Box 158, Burlington 52601; 319-753-8272
  • Dubuque
    P.O. Box 1220, Dubuque 52004-1220; 563-589-4418
  • Johnson
    417 S Clinton St, PO Box 2510, Iowa City 52240; 319-356-6060
  • Linn
    Third Ave Bridge, PO Box 1468, Cedar Rapids 52406; 319-398-3411
  • Mahaska (8A)
    106 South 1st Street, Oskaloosa 52577; 641-673-7786
  • Muscatine (7)
    401 East 3rd Street, PO Box 8010, Muscatine 52761; 563-263-6511
  • Polk (5C)
    500 Mulberry Street, Room 212, Des Moines 50309; 515-286-3772
  • Pottawatttamie
    227 S. 6th Street, PO Box 476, Council Bluffs 51502; 712-328-5604
  • Scott (7)
    400 West Fourth Street, Davenport 52801; 563-326-8648
  • Warren (5A)
    PO Box 379, Indianola 50125; 515-961-1033
  • Woodbury (3)
    620 Douglas, Room 101, Sioux City 51101; 712-279-6611
  • Wright (2B)
    115 North Main Street, PO Box 306, Clarion 50525;  515-532-3113

If your County court is not listed, the information for your court will be included in the divorce papers we send you.

Distribution of Property

Often the most difficult portion of filing for divorce is dividing the property that was obtained during the marriage. Because Iowa is an equitable distribution state, all of the acquired property will be divided in a fair manner, not necessarily evenly. If the individuals involved in the divorce cannot make decisions for who gets what kinds of property, then it is up to the court to award the property.

The only property that cannot be subject to an award is that of gifts. When one of the individuals has received an item as a gift, the item is automatically designated to that individual. Exceptions to this rule are gifts exchanged between the couple during the course of courting and marriage.

The court will take several conditions into consideration when dividing the property. These include the marriage’s length; who brought what forms of property into the marriage; who contributed to the marriage in what way; who will have custody of the children produced through the marriage if any; education contribution of the property; the finances of each individual; the economic circumstances of each spouse; the tax situation of each individual; any antenuptial agreements; and any other circumstances that may otherwise designate the property to one individual.

Property division factors when applying for divorce in Iowa

The courts prefer that any property division is made by the spouses themselves under the marital settlement agreement. However, there may be cases where this is not possible and in the event of this occurring, it is down to the courts to decide property division under the decree of dissolution of marriage. As Iowa is an equitable distribution state, this means they will divide any property based on what they deem to be fair. In order to be able to do this the following will first be determined:

  1. What property is actually deemed to be marital
  2. The value of this property
  3. Once the value of any marital property is worked out the court will share this equitably

When dividing property equitably the court will consider the following:

  • The property that each spouse brought into the marriage
  • The length of the marriage prior to the request for termination
  • The contribution to the marriage by each of the spouses
  • The age, physical health, and the emotional stability of the spouses
  • The desirability of the spouse awarded custody to reside in the home
  • Economic circumstances such as pensions
  • The consequences of taxes on the spouses
  • Any agreement that was pre-written by the spouses
  • Any other factors that the court deems to be relevant to the property division

Iowa Code – Sections 598.21

Custody factors when divorcing

When considering custody factors in Iowa the courts may consider the following:

  1. The suitability of each of the spouses as parents
  2. Whether the child will suffer from a lack of active contact from both parents
  3. How well parents are able to communicate with each other when it comes to the needs of children
  4. Whether since the separation both of the parents have played an active role in the child’s life
  5. Whether the custody award would be in the best interests of the child
  6. Whether one or both of the parents are willing to consider joint custody
  7. Where the spouses reside in proximity to one another
  8. Whether the safety of the child will be put into jeopardy
  9. Whether there is a history of abuse in the family. Iowa Code – Sections 598.21

Child support factors

Either or the parents of both of the parents may be ordered by the courts to pay child support. When making the decision the court will consider the following:

  1. The income of each spouse
  2. Relevant factors such as the amount of taxes paid and any contributions for retirement

The amount of child support that is awarded with the use of guideline charts will be presumed to be correct by the courts but factors such as fairness and any special needs that the child may have will be taken into account by the courts.

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