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Heather Jones

Typically, parties ask for an annulment early on in a marriage, claiming that the marriage itself is invalid, whereas with a divorce the parties simply state that the marriage was irretrievably broken, and no other grounds are provided to the court. To get an annulment in Iowa you must not only provide grounds upon which the court can grant an annulment, but you must also provide proof of those grounds, which will be discussed later in the article. Getting a divorce granted, on the other hand, requires no grounds or proof to be presented to the court. Read on for more information about Iowa annulment versus divorce.  

This article will explore the differences between an Iowa annulment and an Iowa divorce. The article will also generally explain what the grounds are for getting a marriage annulled in Iowa.

Annulment in Iowa

An annulment is different than a divorce. Some people believe that an annulment is strictly a procedure conducted by a church, declaring a marriage void. For example, some people will get a divorce in a court of law and then officially request from their church that the marriage be annulled. While this is true to some extent, there is also a legal standard for the annulment of a marriage.  

While a divorce ends a marriage, an annulment declares that the marriage never properly existed, that one or more basic legal requirements to enter into the contract of marriage were missing and the parties did not enter into a legal marriage in the first place, making the marriage invalid. Getting an annulment of marriage in Iowa is not difficult if you can prove one of the required reasons for annulment to the Iowa court.

How To Annul a Marriage in Iowa

In order to have a marriage annulled in Iowa you must meet certain requirements. You need to present the court with a reason the marriage is invalid. Here are the reasons the marriage would be invalid in the eyes of the law:

  • Incompetence
  • Bigamy
  • Incest
  • Impotence
  • Illegality

Incompetence: one or both of the parties was not legally competent at the time of the marriage. This could mean that the person was not of sound mind and did not fully understand that they were entering into marriage.

Bigamy: One or both of the parties was already married to someone else at the time of the new marriage.  

Incest: The parties are too closely related to be legally married, for example many states prohibit the marriage of siblings or first cousins.  

Impotence: one or both of the parties cannot have children and did not disclose that fact to the other party prior to the marriage.  

Illegality: If the marriage was entered into in an illegal manner, for example one party was not of adult age or the marriage certificate was forged.  

When presenting any of the above stated grounds for an annulment in Iowa, you will need to provide proof supporting the reason you are giving. For example, you cannot simply state in your petition for annulment that your spouse is impotent, you will have to provide some type of written proof that the person is medically impotent in the form of a medical report of a letter from a doctor confirming the fact.

Furthermore, if the court finds that one party lied to the other about some of the factors listed above, the court may order the other party be compensated as a result of the fraud perpetrated upon them. For example, if one person lied and said they could have children and the other party can prove they lied about it, the court may order the deceived party be compensated in some way.

Marriage Annulment in Iowa


There is a residency requirement to file a petition for annulment in Iowa. In order to meet the residency requirement, one of the spouses needs to have lived in Iowa for the last year prior to filing the petition an Iowa court.  

Once you have met the residency requirement, you can file a petition for annulment with the Iowa court. You should include any children born of the marriage, and if you require a temporary order for child support, even if the marriage is annulled instead of dissolved, a permanent order for child support can be entered. The Iowa court can still grant an annulment even if there are children born of the invalid marriage. The children of the annulled marriage will be treated the same as the children of a legal marriage.

Additionally, the Iowa court can divide any “marital” property even though the marriage is being annulled although this is usually a small division because parties tend to ask for an annulment early on in the invalid marriage.  

Iowa Annulment versus Iowa Divorce

While divorce is the option most couples chose, an annulment has different reasons behind it. The connotations between the two ways of ending a marriage are also different and this is an important factor for some people. When a marriage ends in divorce, you are considered divorced. However, technically speaking, when you have a marriage annulled it is as if the marriage never took place, because it was not a valid marriage.  

The bottom line here is that if you have grounds for annulment, you can ask for one but there could still be a property division and an order regarding child support, custody and visitation entered. An annulment is not an inexpensive alternative to divorce. Annulment requires very specific grounds with supporting evidence to be granted. Divorce in Iowa does not require that you provide any grounds to have a divorce granted.  A divorce and an annulment could both require the division of assets. If you have grounds for an annulment and supporting evidence, you should ask for an annulment as soon as possible, whereas with a divorce it does not matter how long the marriage has lasted.  

When you are considering whether to file for an annulment versus a divorce in Iowa, you need to consider how the marriage formed, if there are any solid grounds for an annulment to present to the court and if you have any proof of those alleged grounds. It might be that your spouse would be willing to work with you on getting the marriage annulled and assist in providing whatever proof the court requires in granting an annulment in Iowa.  

If you have further questions about petitioning for annulment or if divorce is the better option for you, please feel free to give us a call at (630)-324-6666. We would be happy to discuss your options and the nest possible way to meet your goals.  

Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Each individual's legal needs are unique, and these materials may not be applicable to your legal situation. Always seek the advice of a competent attorney with any questions you may have regarding a legal issue. Do not disregard professional legal advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog.

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