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DIY Divorce Guide

Online Iowa Divorce Reference Guide

Complete divorce guide with state requirements and laws.
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Iowa Online Divorce Basics This is a divorce reference guide to understanding divorce in Iowa. Each state has its own requirements, laws, and documentation, so we decided to gather it all in one location to make it easy and quick for you to find the information you need before, during and after your divorce.
Divorce in Iowa Made Easy
    • Time Frame: Iowa mandates a 90-day waiting period from the time the initial Petition is filed to the time a judge may sign the final Decree. The parties receive the signed Decree from the court. Once this has been filed, the marriage is legally dissolved.
    • Where to File: District Court. "In the District Court for the County of ______________, Iowa."
    • State Statutes: Iowa Code Annotated; Title XV Chapter 598 §§ 1-42.
    • Name of Action: Dissolution of Marriage.
    • Name of Parties: Petitioner, the filing spouse, and respondent, the non-filing spouse.
    • No-Fault or Fault and No-Fault Only: No-Fault only.
    • Primary Documents Filed: Petition for Dissolution of Marriage and Decree of Dissolution of Marriage.
    • Physical Separation Required: No.
    • Separation Time to File: No.
    • Legal Separation Permitted: the grounds for a legal separation are the same as the grounds for a no-fault divorce.
    • Grounds: No-Fault: "there has been a breakdown of the marriage relationship to the extent that the legitimate objects of matrimony have been destroyed and there remains no reasonable likelihood that the marriage can be preserved."
    • Residency Requirement: There is a 1 year residency requirement for all spouses filing in the state, unless the petitioner in the case is not a resident, then he or she does not have a residency requirement in order to file for a dissolution of marriage, but the respondent must be a resident of Iowa. The parties shall file for a dissolution of marriage in the county where either party resides.
    • Mediation Required: The Iowa Code 598.7 states "the district court may, on its own motion or on the motion of any party, order the parties to participate in mediation in any dissolution of marriage action or other domestic relations action." This means the court, if it so desires, can require the parties to attempt mediation prior to proceeding to trial.
    • Counseling Required: On request of either spouse or on its own, the court may order a 60-day counseling period called conciliation. If conciliation is ordered, the 90-day waiting period to grant a divorce starts when conciliation is completed. The conciliator may be a member of the clergy, a physician, public or private marriage counselor, or representatives from family service agencies or community mental health centers. Such conciliation procedure may include, but is not limited to, referrals to the Domestic Relations Division of the Court, if established, public or private Marriage Counselors, Family Service Agencies, Community Health Centers, Physicians and Clergy. [Iowa Code 598.16 and 598.19].
    • Parenting Classes Required: Within 45 days of the commencement of the case, a course on children's needs is required for all parents when custody is at issue. The carouse is designed to help parents realize the benefits of cooperative co-parenting both during and after divorce. The requirement is up to the judge's discretion. If he or she does not think it is in the best interests of the children or parents it can be be waived. [Iowa Code Annotated; Section 598.16 and 598.19A].
    • Filing Fee: Filing fee in Iowa is $185.
    • Where to File for Child Support: In Iowa Child Support Enforcement (Child Support Recovery Unit) is under the umbrella of the Department of Human Services, which maintains 23 offices throughout the state, organized into 4 regions, which establish and enforce child support. Local offices are open 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. CST Monday - Friday, except state holidays. The toll free child support automated information line is 1-888-229-9223.
    • Child Support Guidelines Model: The supreme court of Iowa enacts Child support guidelines by court rule. The guidelines are based on the Income Shares model, based on gross income.
The supreme court of Iowa enacts Child support guidelines by court rule. The guidelines are based on gross income. Public assistance and the income of stepparents are not included, but both parents' incomes are. To calculate child support, a party counts the children (not only include those in the current support obligation, but it also children from previous relations under the care of one of the spouses). Thus, children from a previous relationship covered by an already-existing child support order are considered and the amount paid and the children of a subsequent marriage. Health insurance for the children from this relationship may be deducted from gross wages. If the other parent pays for this coverage, this is deducted from that parent's gross income and this will affect both contributions. Iowa allows deductions for income taxes, FICA, pension deductions, union dues, and any medical support paid under a previous child support order, and any child care costs. Iowa uses a Child Support Worksheet, which shows an appropriate Iowa child support obligation. Once this amount is determined it is essential to look at any appropriate Iowa child support deviation factors. The parents can agree on an amount that is different than the amount determined using the child support worksheet, but the court must believe it is reasonable and will be adequate to financially support the child(ren).
    • Property Division: Iowa is an equitable distribution state.
    • Appreciation of Separate Property: Separate property is not subject to a division, except upon a finding that not dividing it is inequitable to the other party or to the children of the marriage.
    • Attendance at Hearing: Yes. If it is a default divorce, the spouse that files must go to a hearing. However, if the parties enter into a separation agreement, the spouse that filed for divorce will meet with the judge to review the agreement, but often, this won't actually require a formal court hearing. (Read more about Iowa divorce hearings)
    • Fault Considered in Property Division: No.
    • Waiting period after Divorce for Remarriage: None.
    • Divorce Records: The Iowa Department of Public Health
State laws enacted in 1906 requires the County Clerk of Court in Iowa to report all divorces to the Iowa Department of Health. The divorce record includes the name of each party, age, and nationality, date and place of marriage, county and cause of divorce and number of minor children. Certified copies of Vital Records can be obtained from a County Recorder’s office or the Iowa Department of Public Health. The office is located at: Iowa Department of Public Health, Bureau of Vital Records, Lucas Office Building 1st Floor, 321 East 12th Street, Des Moines, Iowa 50319-0075. Copies of a Decree of Dissolution of Marriage in Iowa are found in the District Court in the county where the divorce was filed and finalized. A Decree of Dissolution of Marriage can be obtained by contacting the Clerk of Court in person or by phone. The Decree of Dissolution of Marriage will include information regarding the settlement of the divorce, where a divorce record or certificate from the Iowa Department of Public Health will only include the basic information regarding the divorce as mentioned above.


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