IOWA DIVORCE MADE EASY. DOCUMENTS DONE RIGHT!
IOWA 3STEPDIVORCE TM - KEEPING YOUR UNCONTESTED DIVORCE SIMPLE
|This easy to use online divorce is a "do it yourself (without a lawyer)" solution for any uncontested divorce (with or without children) that will be filed in the state of Iowa. An uncontested divorce is one in which you and your spouse are in agreement and eliminates the stress and expense of settling your divorce in court.
With 3StepDivorce TM you can complete and print your Iowa divorce forms (including a marital settlement agreement) instantly. Follow our step-by-step filing procedures to file for divorce in Iowa in a timely, professional, and hassle free fashion. The online software is designed to give you full control of your divorce and also avoids the use of third party data entry, thus helping protect your personal information and privacy.
Online Divorce FAQ: Iowa
Filing for divorce can seem overwhelming. Like starting almost any other legal proceeding, it takes finding the right forms, filling out the forms properly, and understanding the court’s requirements for the next steps you’ll need to take.
Traditionally, most people have hired a lawyer to take care of all the legal matters in their divorce. But more and more couples are turning to a much cheaper option that’s still easier than figuring out everything on their own: filing for divorce online.
If you want to know more, read on for answers to some of the most common questions about online divorce (also called “dissolution of marriage”) in Iowa.
- How Does Online Divorce Work in Iowa?
- Can I File for Divorce in Iowa?
- What Are the Residency Requirements for Divorce in Iowa?
- What Are the Grounds for Divorce in Iowa?
- Do I Need a Lawyer to File for Divorce in Iowa?
- Can I Use Iowa 3StepDivorce™ in My Situation?
- What If My Spouse and I Can’t Agree on the Issues in Our Divorce?
- Can I Get an Online Divorce in Iowa If I Have Children?
- How Will My Online Divorce in Iowa Deal With Child Support?
- Will We Be Able to Change the Amount of Child Support After Divorce?
- How Will Online Divorce Handle Property and Debts From Our Marriage?
- What About the Family Home?
- What About Retirement Accounts?
- Can I Get Alimony With an Online Divorce in Iowa?
- How Do I File My Divorce Papers in Iowa?
- How Much Is Iowa’s Filing Fee for Divorce?
- What If I Can’t Afford to Pay the Divorce Filing Fee?
- How Long Does an Uncontested Divorce Take in Iowa?
- How Can I Get More Help With Iowa Online Divorce?
How Does Online Divorce Work in Iowa?
Iowa 3StepDivorce™ takes care of the divorce paperwork for you. Once you sign up for the service, you’ll answer some questions about your situation. Based on your responses to the questionnaire, Iowa 3StepDivorce™ will fill out the forms the state requires to start the divorce process, along with instructions for adding any further information that’s needed. You’ll be able to print out the forms yourself immediately or, if you prefer, get hard copies by mail.
UPDATE: 3StepDivorce™ for Iowa isn’t available right now, while we update our forms and services for Iowa. Check back soon at 3StepDivorce.com for current availability. In the meantime, you might be able to get divorce forms at the Iowa Judicial Branch website or the court clerk’s office in the county where you’ll be filing for divorce (more on that below). And the information below can answer your questions about getting an uncontested divorce in Iowa.
Can I File for Divorce in Iowa?
Iowa has two basic requirements to file for divorce in the state: a residency requirement, and a legally recognized reason for ending your marriage.
What Are the Residency Requirements for Divorce in Iowa?
The residency requirements for a divorce in Iowa are met when the non-filing spouse (the “respondent”) is in Iowa and is served with the divorce paperwork by personal service. Otherwise, if only the filing spouse (the “petitioner”) lives in Iowa, the petitioner must have lived in Iowa for at least a year. (Iowa Code § 598.5(1)(k) (2022).)
What Are the Grounds for Divorce in Iowa?
Iowa is a “no-fault” divorce state. This means that the filing spouse doesn’t have to prove that the other was at fault for ending the marriage. Instead, the divorce petition will state that “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.” (Iowa Code § 598.5(1)(g) (2022).)
In other words, the marriage must be broken with no hope that the parties can reconcile.
Do I Need a Lawyer to File for Divorce in Iowa?
Many Iowa residents are finding that they can file for divorce and get through the process without the expense of hiring a lawyer if they’re filing for an “uncontested divorce” in the state. That means that they’ve agreed with each other about all of the legal issues in their divorce, including:
how to divide their property and debts
child custody, visitation, and child support (if they have minor children).
If you still have disagreements with your spouse about these or any other issues involved in ending your marriage, you’ll have to file for a traditional, contested divorce. Because that will involve legal battles and presenting evidence and arguments at court hearings, it would be risky to pursue a contested divorce without a lawyer to navigate the process for you—especially if your spouse has an attorney.
Can I Use Iowa 3StepDivorce™ in My Situation?
Once it’s available in your state, you may use Iowa 3StepDivorce™ as long as you have an uncontested divorce and meet the state’s residency requirement. You’ll need to have a written marital settlement agreement, signed by both you and your spouse, that covers all of the issues in your divorce. Iowa 3StepDivorce™ will guide you through the process of creating this agreement, based on your answers to the questionnaire.
3StepDivorce™ can also help if you aren’t ready to file for divorce, but you want a separation agreement with your spouse. For instance, you might want to work out arrangements for support, custody of your children, who has to move out of the family home, and how to take care of the bills while you’re separated but still legally married.
What If My Spouse and I Can’t Agree on the Issues in Our Divorce?
Just because you haven’t been able to agree with your spouse about everything in your divorce, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to go through an expensive and time-consuming contested divorce. You could try divorce mediation. If you’re able to resolve your disagreements with the mediator’s help, you can then use Iowa 3StepDivorce™ (when it’s available in your state) to prepare the written settlement agreement, along with the other divorce paperwork.
Can I Get an Online Divorce in Iowa If I Have Children?
Generally, you can use Iowa 3StepDivorce™ even when you have minor children with your spouse, as long as you agree on all of the issues related to your kids, including legal and physical custody, a parenting (visitation) schedule, child support, health and dental insurance, and tax deductions. Iowa 3StepDivorce™ will allow you to address these issues in your settlement agreement. We provide a standard parenting schedule, but you’ll have an option of customizing the schedule to meet your individual needs.
However, you won’t be able to address custody-related issues with Iowa 3StepDivorce™ if the affected child or children don’t meet the “home state” requirement. Usually, that means the child must have lived in Iowa with a parent (or a parent figure) during the entire six-month period before you file for divorce (or since birth if the child is younger than six months old). (Iowa Code § 598B.201 (2022).) If you don’t meet the six-month rule, you should speak with an attorney to find out whether you might qualify for one of the complicated exceptions to this rule.
How Will My Online Divorce in Iowa Deal With Child Support?
In Iowa, both parents have an obligation to support their children. And like all states, Iowa has child support guidelines for calculating how much support the parents should pay, based largely on their incomes and custody arrangements.
3StepDivorce™ provides the Iowa Child Support Guideline Worksheets, so you can easily calculate the state's guideline level of support. You and your spouse may agree to an amount of child support that differs from the guideline amount, but the judge will need to review and approve your agreement. Iowa law requires that any time the amount of child support deviates from the guideline, the judge must find that applying the guideline would be “unjust or inappropriate” under the circumstances.
In your settlement agreement, you and your spouse may include child support provisions that aren’t legally required, such as a parent’s contributions to private school tuition or the cost of a child’s college education. You may also agree on some specific questions like which parent will claim the children as dependents on tax returns.
Will We Be Able to Change the Amount of Child Support After Divorce?
After your divorce in Iowa is final, you (or your spouse) may request a change in the amount of child support, but you’ll need to show that your circumstances have changed significantly. The judge will review your request based on the same legal requirements for an original child support order.
If you want to save the time and expense of a court battle over a request to modify child support, you and your spouse may agree to a modification on your own. As a general rule, you’ll need to submit your agreement to a judge or child support agency.
Iowa Legal Aid’s website provides detailed information about how to change a child support order. If you have a child support order from an Iowa court and are hoping to change only child support, you can file an Application to Modify Child Support in district court. Alternatively, you can ask the Iowa Department of Human Services Child Support Recovery Unit (CSRU) for a modification of your child support order.
How Will Online Divorce Handle Property and Debts From Our Marriage?
When you fill out your questionnaire for Iowa 3StepDivorce™, you’ll answer a series of questions about your separate and marital property and debts, including how you’ll divide your marital property and allocate responsibility for payment of the marital debts.
What About the Family Home?
If you own a home with your spouse, your agreement can spell out what will happen to it when you get divorced. Here again, the questionnaire will include a few questions about the property and how you’ve chosen to deal with it, such as:
selling the house and splitting the proceeds
transferring ownership to one spouse, with the other spouse receiving money or other assets in exchange for that spouse’s share, or
continuing to own the property together while allowing one spouse to stay in the house for a period of time (and, if so, how you’ll handle paying the mortgage and other ongoing costs).
What About Retirement Accounts?
In your Iowa 3StepDivorce™, you may also agree on whether and how you’ll divide any retirement accounts that you and your spouse have, including 401(k)s, individual retirement accounts (IRAs), and defined-benefit pensions.
If you started contributing to the retirement plan before you were married, you’ll start by figuring out how much of its current value is marital property and how much is your separate property. There are experts and firms that will do this for you (for a fee, of course). The service is usually known as a pension appraisal or valuation. You’ll almost always need this kind of expert help when you’re dealing with a defined-benefit pension.
Once you know the marital value of your work-related retirement accounts, the easiest way to handle the division of the assets is not to split them but to transfer other assets as an offset. Here’s how that works: Say you have a 401(k) through your job, and the marital portion of the account is worth $100,000. If you and your spouse agree to divide that portion down the middle, and you have other marital assets to divide (such as a regular savings account), your spouse could receive an extra $50,000 from those assets while you keep the entire 401(k). That way, you don’t have to hire another expert to prepare the kind of special order that’s needed to tell the 401(k) administrator how to divide the account.
The rules are different for IRAs. You may simply agree to have your spouse’s share transferred to another IRA account in that spouse’s name. (You’ll have to submit a special form to the bank, along with a copy of your divorce decree.)
Can I Get Alimony With an Online Divorce in Iowa?
You and your spouse may waive any right to alimony in your Iowa divorce, or you may agree on the specifics of alimony payments: who will pay, how much, and for how long. Your agreement may also state whether a court could modify alimony at any time in the future, and it could cover related issues like health insurance and life insurance.
How Do I File My Divorce Papers in Iowa?
When you get your completed forms with Iowa 3StepDivorce™, your next step will be to file your paperwork in the district court in the county where you or your spouse lives. (Iowa Code § 598.2 (2022).) You are required to file your court papers electronically unless you receive an exemption. For more information about electronic filing, see the Iowa Judicial Branch’s overview of electronic filing.
How Much Is Iowa’s Filing Fee for Divorce?
You will need to pay a filing fee of $265 when you file your divorce paperwork. (Iowa Code § 602.8105(1)(b) (2022).)
What If I Can’t Afford to Pay the Divorce Filing Fee?
If you can’t afford to pay the divorce filing fee, you can ask the court to defer (postpone) your payment of fees. There are two possible forms to ask for a deferral of costs. Use Form 109: Application and Affidavit to Defer Payment of Costs for a divorce that doesn’t involve minor children. Use Form 209: Application and Affidavit to Defer Payment of Costs for a divorce that involves minor children.
If the court grants your motion, you’ll be able to file your divorce paperwork without paying fees. However, the court might require you to pay the fees at the conclusion of the divorce, or might require your spouse to pay them on your behalf.
How Long Does an Uncontested Divorce Take in Iowa?
Iowa courts can’t begin to process a divorce until 90 days have passed since the divorce papers were served on the non-filing spouse (or since the non-filing spouse waived service). (Iowa Code § 598.19 (2022).) After this mandatory waiting period, the court can begin processing your case. How long it will take for the court to finalize your divorce depends on the court’s schedule and availability of the court and parties.
How Can I Get More Help With Iowa Online Divorce?
Iowa 3StepDivorce™ provides unlimited, live, person-to-person support for customers. If you have any questions about how uncontested divorce works, call our Iowa Divorce Online Help Center at (888) 665-6782 (toll free), Monday through Friday from 8 am to 5 pm (Pacific Time).
Please keep in mind that we are not lawyers and so cannot give out legal advice. If you have questions about Iowa law or need legal advice, we recommend that you contact an experienced family law attorney in your area.