In this article...

In Iowa, divorce is formally referred to as "dissolution of marriage," which is a legal phrase for divorce. Forms can be found in Chapter 17 of the Iowa Court Rules, while applicable Iowa legislation can be found in Chapter 598 of the Iowa Code.

In Iowa, divorce is formally referred to as "dissolution of marriage," which is a legal phrase for divorce. Forms can be found in Chapter 17 of the Iowa Court Rules, while applicable Iowa legislation can be found in Chapter 598 of the Iowa Code.

The person who files for divorce is known as the Petitioner. The other spouse is the Respondent.  

What Are The Legal Reasons For Getting A Divorce In Iowa?  

The state of Iowa accepts "no fault divorce," which permits a marriage to be dissolved when there is proof of a breakdown in the marital connection with no chance of it being saved. The petitioner is not obliged to blame or prove the other spouse for any specific wrongdoing or wrongdoing. See Iowa Code 598.5 and 598.17 for more information. Should you file for divorce first?

Is Getting A Divorce In Iowa Subject To A Residence Requirement Or A Waiting Period?  

Residency. There is no residence requirement if the respondent is a resident of Iowa and is physically served dissolution of marriage papers. Otherwise, the petitioner must have spent a year in Iowa. See section 598.5 of the Iowa Code for more information.  

There will be a waiting period. Before the court can enter a final judgment, Iowa law requires a ninety-day waiting period from the date the respondent is served with dissolution of marriage papers. The court may waive the waiting time in specific circumstances. See section 598.19 of the Iowa Code. How hard is it to get a divorce in Iowa? Read more about this in our recent article here.

What Exactly Is Mediation?  

Mediation is an out-of-court dispute settlement approach that allows the parties to work together with a neutral third party to reach an agreement. The court may force the parties to participate in mediation before granting a divorce. The parties are responsible for the expense of mediation. In Iowa, mediation services are accessible. See section 598.7 of the Iowa Code.  

What Will Happen To Our Belongings?  

Iowa is a state with "equitable distribution." Except for any gifts or inheritances obtained before or during the marriage, the court will split all of the spouses' property, whether acquired before or after the marriage. A portion of the estate may be set aside in a fund to support, maintain, and educate any minor children. There is no analysis of marital blame. Any property distribution takes into account a number of elements, including each spouse's contribution to the acquisition of marital property, the value of any property brought into the marriage, the length of the marriage, and the age and physical and emotional health of the spouses. See section 598.21 of the Iowa Code. Learn what happens to farmland in our recent article.

Will I Be Responsible For Spousal Support?  

Spousal support (also known as "alimony") may be granted to either spouse for a limited or indefinite period of time, depending on a variety of factors, including, but not limited to: the time required to obtain sufficient education and training to enable the spouse to find appropriate employment and become self-supporting; the length of the marriage; and the financial resources of the spouse seeking alimony, i.e., the amount of money available to the spouse seeking alimony. Support payments may be ordered by the court to be made. See 598.21A of the Iowa Code.  

Is It Possible For Me To Revert To My Maiden Name?  

Yes. Include your request for a name change in your petition if you are seeking a name change as part of a pending divorce, and the court can include the change in the final decree. See § 598.37 of the Iowa Code.  

Do We Need A Court Order If We've Already Agreed On The Conditions Of Our Divorce?  

Yes. Even if you and your husband agree on your divorce conditions, the court must still evaluate and approve them. Until a court signs the official "decree of dissolution of marriage," you are not divorced.  

Learn about how to have a Pro Se Divorce in Iowa here.

How Does an Extramarital Affair Impact My Divorce?

Iowa is a “no fault” divorce state. This means the marriage will be dissolved when there is evidence of a breakdown of the marital relationship with no likelihood it can be preserved. Someone petitioning for a divorce must allege there has been this breakdown of the marriage relationship. The petitioner is not required to blame the other spouse for any particular wrong. If a court asks a party to present evidence of the breakdown of the marriage, or likelihood the marriage could be preserved, a party may introduce testimony or other evidence of the affair. However, the affair on its own is not grounds for divorce in Iowa. Learn more about extramarital affairs in divorces in our recent article.

When Will My Divorce Be Finalized?  

The final "decree of dissolution of marriage" will be sent to you or your attorney via the Iowa e-File System. The divorce is final after a judge signs and files the final decree.  

What Can I Do If I Want To Amend Some Of The Terms Of My Divorce Decree?  

If the court determines that there has been a significant change in circumstances, the court may modify the dissolution judgment. A party must apply to the court to have a decree modified. The court will consider a variety of factors when determining whether there has been a substantial change in circumstances, including changes in a party's employment, earning capacity, income, or resources, changes in a party's physical, mental, or emotional health, changes in a party's residence, or a party's remarriage. See 598.21C of the Iowa Code.  

What If I Wish To Execute A Divorce Decree From Another State In Iowa?  

In general, Iowa is responsible for upholding and enforcing court rulings issued by other states. Enforcing a divorce judgement, especially one that includes child support, custody, or visitation stipulations from a different state, can be difficult. Seek the advice of an attorney.  

Do I Need An Attorney If I'm Going Through A Divorce With Child Custody Issues?  

While legal representation is not required in a custody dispute, divorces with children can be difficult. You might wish to hire a lawyer to assist you with all or part of the divorce procedure. You can overlook crucial details or fail to foresee the outcomes of your litigation. For these reasons, anyone considering divorce should seek legal advice, especially if there are children or major marital assets at stake.  

What's The Best Way To Start A Divorce? 

You must file a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage electronically and pay the $265 filing fee. The petition must then be served on the respondent, along with an original notice; there may be an additional fee for having the petition served on the respondent. After that, the responder has a fair amount of time to file an answer. If there are disputed issues—if you and your spouse can't agree on anything—the case may be scheduled for a hearing or trial in front of a judge. Special processes, such as obligatory mediation, may be implemented by each judicial district as part of the divorce process.  

What Should I Do If Divorce Papers Are Served On Me?  

You can submit a response, which is sometimes known as an "answer." You only have a certain amount of time to respond to the petition: ordinarily, the deadline is twenty calendar days from the date of service (the date you received a copy of the petition), but this may vary depending on the facts of the case. If you do not answer, the court may rule you in default and grant your spouse the relief requested in the Petition.  

Request a consultation with an experienced family law attorney. O’Flaherty Law understands the complex process of getting a divorce in Iowa. Our family law lawyers have years of experience in family and divorce law We can prepare you for the expected and unexpected issues when going through a divorce.  


Call our office at (630) 324-6666, email, or schedule a consultation with one of our experienced family lawyers today. You can also fill out our confidential contact form and we will get back to you shortly.  

August 18, 2021
Text Link

What to Expect From a Consultation

The purpose of a  consultation is to determine whether our firm is a good fit for your legal needs. Although we often discuss expected results and costs, our attorneys do not give legal advice unless and until you choose to retain us. Consultations may carry a charge, depending on the facts of the matter and the area of law. The cost of your consultation, if any, is communicated to you by our intake team or the attorney.

Similar Articles


Learn about Law