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Iowa divorce details

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Uncontested VS Contested Divorce in Iowa

When we talk about the dissolution of marriage, we’re talking about a process that can be a drag on both time and resources. It is not uncommon for a person to be left with nothing after a divorce, having spent all their savings on difficult legal proceedings. In the modern world, however, this need not be the norm, which is why courts often recommend that couples opt for an uncontested divorce. So, let's take a look at the difference between contested and uncontested divorces.

In a contested divorce, all the issues in dispute are decided in court; the spouses express their point of view, and the judge makes decisions based on an analysis of what took place during the marriage. For this reason, contested divorces are long and expensive. The exact time needed depends on the number of disputes and their complexity.

With uncontested divorces, all disputes between the spouses are decided before the petition is submitted to the court. It is because of this that uncontested divorces are so (relatively) quick and simple. The spouses reach an agreement on all the controversial issues, file it with a lawsuit to dissolve the marriage, and all the judge does is make the final decree.

Uncontested vs Contested Divorce
Uncontested divorce in Iowa

Uncontested Divorce in Iowa

As we mentioned above, in order for a divorce to be uncontested, there must be no remaining disputes between the spouses, so before filing, spouses should carefully discuss and come to a consensus on the following issues:

  • Child custody and amount of financial support.
  • Amount and duration of alimony.
  • Separation of debts and joint property.
  • Any other issues that may arise.

90 days after the date of submission of all the necessary documents to the court, the judge will make a final decision, with the spouses not even having to appear in the courtroom.

Grounds for Divorce in Iowa

Iowa is a no-fault state. This means that the only grounds for divorce are irreconcilable differences between spouses, differences that render the marriage broken. This is a very good reason for the dissolution of marriage, because in actuality neither spouse is guilty of the fact that the relationship has fallen apart. You do not have to blame your spouse or defend yourself against his or her attacks, nor painstakingly provide evidence of guilt or adultery. So, in terms of the grounds for divorce, Iowa's legislation is a great gift to couples, since the spouses do not have to take all their dirty laundry into the courtroom.

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Iowa Residency Requirements to file for the divorce

Iowa Residency Requirements to File for Divorce

If the defendant is a resident of the state and the plaintiff provides documents to him/her personally, then the plaintiff has no requirements for residence. Otherwise, in order to file a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with the court, at least one of the spouses must have lived in Iowa for at least one year.

How to File for an Uncontested Divorce in Iowa?

So, before filing for divorce, you must meet the state's requirements for living and since Iowa is a no-fault state, the fact that your marriage is irretrievably broken will be enough to warrant dissolution. You need to fill out forms for divorce, keeping in mind that if you make any mistake, the court will reject your forms or assign a number of court sessions in order to clarify the issues and sort things out. You may also have to submit the forms electronically (using Iowa eFile systems), if you do not have the court's permission to file in paper form.

The basic papers that you will need to fill out are Petition for Dissolution of Marriage and Summons, in addition to which you may need to submit supplemental forms depending on the circumstances of your divorce. Keep in mind that the Plaintiff must provide the Defendant with copies of the forms that he or she registered in the court. Once all the necessary documents have been filed, you have a waiting period of 90 days and during this time, you can resolve any conflicts that remain between you and your spouse. If you do not reach an agreement during this waiting period, your divorce will be contested and disputes will be decided in the courtroom.

If you and your spouse are on good terms, and have come to a common understanding, then you have the opportunity to speed up the waiting period. If the judge marks the case as urgent, you will get a final decision much earlier.

How to file for an Uncontested Divorce?
Do-It-Yourself Divorce in Iowa

Do-It-Yourself Divorce in Iowa

Iowa legislation allows a person to represent his or her interests in the courtroom independently, without the participation of a lawyer. The process is called a DIY divorce. Here you independently select and fill out all the necessary forms, and afterwards appear in court if required. Be aware that the success of the procedure depends on the correctness of your documents; it is very important to choose the exact forms that correspond to the circumstances of your divorce and fill them out in accordance with local law. In addition, the courtroom is a place of age-old traditions, good manners and courtesy. You should dress well, show your respect to the judge and all those present, not interrupt the judge, speak loudly and clearly, and always be on time.

How Much Does an Uncontested Divorce Cost?

When you file a Petition for divorce, you must pay a court fee of $185 – note that if you decide to serve your spouse with the divorce papers via a sheriff, you will need to pay an additional $40-50. And finally, you will be charged $50 when the final decree is filed. If your interests are represented by a lawyer, then his hourly rate will be about $220. If the divorce is contested, then its price will come out at about $11,700.

How much does an Uncontested Divorce cost in Iowa

How Long Does It Take to Get Divorced in Iowa?

There is no general timeline for all divorces, since each case is unique and the duration depends on the circumstances prevailing in the marriage. Uncontested divorces can be obtained 90 days after all the necessary documents have been submitted to the court. In emergency cases, you can get the final decree earlier, if the judge certifies that it is really necessary. Contested dissolutions of marriage, on the other hand, last much longer, as disagreements between the spouses must be settled in court hearings. A contested divorce can last 6 months, or a year, depending on the complexity of the situation that the judge needs to sort out.

How to Serve Your Spouse in Iowa

When a divorce lawsuit is filed, it is necessary to provide the spouse with copies of every document, referred to as "serving a spouse." This is a very important step, because if you do not provide the spouse with papers for marriage dissolution, the court will not accept your case. You can serve your spouse in several ways:

  • You can transfer documents to your spouse personally, if you are on good terms, or use the services of U.S. Mail. Do not forget to include the Acceptance of Service form in the package of documents; the spouse must sign it to prove that he or she has been served.
  • You can ask the sheriff for help to transfer the copies to your spouse or use the services of a private process server; in this case your spouse will have to fill out a Directions for Service of Original Notice.
  • If the above methods don’t work, you can publish a notice in the local newspaper with your intent to dissolve the marriage.

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Papers & Documents You Need to Get a Divorce in Iowa

The main list of forms includes:

  • Petition for Dissolution of Marriage
  • Cover Sheet for a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage
  • Confidential Information Form
  • Original Notice of Personal Service
  • Acceptance of Service of Original Notice
  • Directions for Service of Original Notice
  • Motion and Affidavit to Serve by Publication
  • Original Notice by Publication
  • Application and Affidavit to Defer Payment of Costs
  • Motion
  • Response to a Motion
  • Financial Affidavit
  • Affidavit of Mailing Notice
  • Notice of Intent to File a Written Application for Default Decree
  • Request for Relief (Final Decree) in Dissolution of Marriage
  • Settlement Agreement for Dissolution of Marriage

This is a common register of divorce documents in Iowa. Please note that you do not need to fill out every single one of them; you choose and fill out the forms that correspond to your case.

Online Divorce in Iowa

Online divorces are very popular, as they allow spouses to dissolve their marriage without the need to do paperwork and dig into the legislation. Using our services, you can be confident in the validity of your forms. How does it work? Well, you answer questions about your marriage, after which we select the appropriate forms and fill them out in accordance with the requirements of the state. In just one day, you will receive all the necessary papers, which will be 100% approved by the court.

Online Divorce in Iowa
Rules for child support in Iowa

Rules for Child Support and Visitation in Iowa

The main principle that judges are guided by when awarding the custody of underage children is compliance with the best interests of the child; parental divorce must pass painlessly for the child. Therefore, in Iowa, during the dissolution of marriage, it is mandatory to visit parenting classes aimed at overcoming the severe potential consequences for the child and parents. The court also believes that the child must spend a lot of time with both parents, and as such usually makes a decision in favor of joint custody, even if the parents do not agree. However, in order to determine the physical custodian, the court must consider many factors and choose which parent is better suited for this role. The following factors can significantly influence the decision:

  • The ability of each parent to be a good guardian.
  • The parents’ ability to jointly resolve issues concerning the upbringing of the child.
  • Where each parent lives, and their living space.
  • The mental and physical states of the parents.
  • The wishes of the child; his or her emotional needs.

In addition, both parents are required to financially support the child until he or she reaches the age of 18, though usually the spouse with the higher income gives the financial support. The calculation of the amount is based on the Income Shares Model, and then proportionally divided between the parents. The parent who is the primary guardian of the child pays for the child's daily expenses, while the second spouse must provide the child with health insurance, education, and also an amount to meet the child's basic needs.

Rules for Spousal Support in Iowa

If, after divorce, the spouse is in a difficult financial situation, he or she can demand financial support from his or her ex in the form of alimony. Spousal support can be paid for a short period of time – for example, while the other spouse retrains, which will help him or her “get back on his/her feet” – or be permanent if the marriage has been long and the spouse can not meet his or her basic needs without outside help. In any case, before deciding on the duration and amount of alimony, the court will consider the following factors:

  • The duration of the marriage and the standard of living that the spouses had during it.
  • The spouses’ financial resources (determined after the property is divided).
  • The tax consequences as a result of alimony.
  • Any agreement regarding support that the spouses made while they were married.
  • The opportunity for a spouse in need to obtain the necessary education and to provide for himself/herself.
Rules for spousal support in Iowa
Division of property in Iowa

Division of Property in Iowa

Legislation on the division of property in each state is different; in Iowa, the principle of equitable distribution is used. This means that the property does not need to be divided equally, but it must be shared fairly. It is ideal if the spouses can agree on division of property even before the start of the trial, which will greatly simplify the divorce process. But if this is not possible, the court will divide the property based on the following factors:

  • The age of each spouse, as well as their physical and emotional indicators.
  • The duration of the marriage.
  • The financial capacity of each spouse.
  • The contribution of each spouse to the financial well-being of the family and the maintenance of the home.
  • The tax consequences for each spouse after the division of property.
  • The existence of any agreements between spouses regarding the division of property.

It is also worth emphasizing that only common property can be shared; that is, property that was acquired by the spouses during the marriage. Separate property, – that is, the property that one spouse possessed before the marriage – cannot be divided, unless by giving or by will. In addition, common and separate property can be combined and turned into mixed property. In this case, it will be considerably difficult to figure out who owns what, and you will likely need the help of a good lawyer.

Division of Debt in Iowa

When divorcing, the spouses must also share the debts they acquired during marriage, including mortgage loans, car loans and credit card debt. Debts, like common property, must be divided fairly. In some situations, when a spouse wants to get more property after a divorce, he or she can also receive a larger share of the debts, so as to keep balance. In addition, some property can be immediately put up for sale, giving the spouses another way to pay off their debts.

Divorce Mediation in Iowa

Mediation is an alternative to disputes. Spouses can work with a third party whose goal is to resolve conflicts and get the spouses to reach a peaceful agreement. A couple can independently apply for this service, or can be sent there by a court decision – especially if the family has underage children. Judicial hearings will be postponed until after the mediation process.

Divorce Mediation in Iowa

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How to divorce a missing spouse in Iowa

How to Divorce a Missing Spouse in Iowa

You want to get divorced, but do not know where your spouse is and thus can not serve him or her. What is next? Well, you still have the right to terminate the marriage.

You must have resided in Iowa for at least 1 year to file a Petition for Dissolution. As with any kind of divorce, you prepare all the forms that apply to the particular circumstances of your divorce, and bring them to court.

After that, you need to contact your spouse via all available methods; if this does not work, then you publish a notice in a local newspaper on your intention to dissolve the marriage. The notice must be published once a week for 3 weeks. This type of divorce is also called Divorce by Publication. Concurrently with the other documents, you will also need to fill out an Affidavit of Diligent Search form.

Default Divorce in Iowa

A default divorce occurs when your spouse does not respond to your Petition. Whether it was initially contested or uncontested, the divorce will be deemed as default if your spouse does not respond to you and in no way reacts to the documents within 20 days of their being delivered.

The Default Divorce in Iowa
Annulment of the marriage in Iowa

Annulment of the Marriage in Iowa

Annulment is a legal process that identifies when the marriage itself is unlawful. In other words, a true marriage never took place, because it was concluded in violation of the law. If you want to recognize your marriage as invalid, one of the following grounds must be fulfilled:

  • Incest. The spouses are blood relatives.
  • One of the spouses was a minor at the time of the marriage ceremony and did not have permission from the parents or the court to marry.
  • Bigamy.
  • Impotence, which the husband had at the time of marriage.

Legal Separation in Iowa

There are many reasons why couples would want to live apart while still officially married. Legal separation assumes that the spouses fill out a Settlement Aggregate, divide common property and custody of children, and resolve questions about financial support. The cost of legal separation is the same as for divorce, but at the end of the day, the spouses are not allowed to marry someone else, because they are still married. If a couple desires, the parties can get a divorce some time after the legal separation has been approved.

Legal Separation in Iowa
The Same-Sex Divorce in Iowa

Same-Sex Divorce in Iowa

Same-sex marriages have been allowed in Iowa since April of 2009. They can be consummated, and thus terminated as well. In Iowa, there are no special rules for obtaining same-sex divorces; the procedure is exactly the same as for all others. One tricky area that can pop up, though, is the division of property. If the couple cohabited before gay marriage was officially recognized, it will be more difficult to determine which property is common, and which is separate. Therefore, it may be necessary to ask for professional help.

Military Divorce in Iowa

A person who is serving in the military or navy outside of Iowa is still considered a resident of Iowa, provided that he or she lived in the state before departure. Servicemen and women who resided in Iowa can thus receive a divorce on the basis of Iowa legislation. The procedure is similar to the standard one, but there are a few nuances:

  • A spouse who is doing military service outside the state is protected by the law from a default divorce; the marriage cannot be terminated while the military man or woman is carrying out his/her duties and is unable to attend the court.
  • A military pension can be divided only if the marriage lasted less than 10 years and the spouse was serving in the military the whole time.

How to Divorce a Spouse in Jail in Iowa

Getting divorced from a spouse who is in prison is not easy, though possible. Alongside completing the forms, you will need to file a decision regarding the spouse who is serving a term. In order to provide documents to your spouse, you may need to talk with the leadership of the prison where he or she is serving a sentence, and ask for help. In addition, you will have to appear at court hearings. It is unlikely that your spouse will be taken to the courtroom, but if it is a question of depriving parental rights, he or she will be obliged to attend court.

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Iowa Divorce Filing Fee

Court filing fees are supplementary to the cost of using, and the cost may vary by county. Please check with your local courthouse to determine the exact amount.

Divorce filing fee

Can a Filing Fee Be Waived?

If you can not afford to pay a court fee, you must fill out an Application and Affidavit to Defer Payment of Costs. Based on this, the judge will decide whether to cancel the court fee for you.

How We Can Help

Our services will prepare all the documentation that is required for you in just one day. We will give you instructions on what to do next, and can also provide copies of the completed forms for your spouse. With our help, you don’t have to worry about bureaucratic errors in the process of document preparation.

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