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Divorce in Iowa

Divorce in Iowa



In the last ten years, Iowa’s divorce laws and regulations have undergone significant changes to address the evolving needs of modern families. These changes reflect the state’s commitment to fairness, transparency, and the well-being of those involved in divorce proceedings. This article provides an overview of key updates in Iowa’s divorce laws and regulations from 2013 to 2023.

2013 – No-Fault Divorce Introduced:

   – Iowa implements no-fault divorce, allowing couples to file for divorce without assigning blame.

2014 – Parenting Plans Emphasized:

   – Courts encourage comprehensive parenting plans that outline custody, visitation, and child support arrangements.

2015 – Child Support Guidelines Updated:

   – Revisions to child support guidelines to ensure fair and accurate calculations based on the parents’ financial circumstances.

2016 – Collaborative Divorce Encouraged:

   – Iowa promotes collaborative divorce, emphasizing alternative dispute resolution methods to reduce adversarial proceedings.

2017 – Equitable Property Division Defined:

   – Clearer guidelines for the division of marital property to ensure equitable distribution.

2018 – Spousal Support Guidelines Established:

   – Introduction of guidelines for determining spousal support, considering factors like duration of marriage and financial need.

2019 – Custody Considerations Enhanced:

   – Courts prioritize the best interests of the child when making custody decisions.

2020 – Online Divorce Filing Implemented:

   – Introduction of online filing options to streamline the divorce process and enhance accessibility.

2021 – Domestic Violence Protections Strengthened:

   – Iowa enhances provisions to protect victims of domestic violence during divorce proceedings.

2022 – Retirement Account Division Clarified:

   – Guidelines established for the division of retirement accounts acquired during the marriage.

2023 – Military Divorce Special Provisions:

   – Specific considerations for military divorces, including deployment-related issues and benefits.

Iowa’s commitment to updating its divorce laws demonstrates its dedication to fostering just and equitable outcomes for families. As the legal landscape continues to evolve, it remains crucial for policymakers, legal professionals, and the public to engage in informed discussions that prioritize the interests of all parties involved in divorce proceedings.

Residency and Filing Needs

There are some aspects of divorce in Iowa that you need to know about before proceeding with anything. First off, if one spouse intends to file, that spouse will then be called the ‘Petitioner.’ The other spouse will be called the ‘Respondent’ in the matter.

Once divorce is eminent, there’s one requirement in the state of Iowa that needs to be met before filing.

• Residency for at least one year on both parties is required for filing divorce. However, if the Petitioner happens to not be a resident, the requirement then only applies to the Respondent.

Reasons for Divorce in Iowa

There are many reasons for it, but for the most part the court recognizes only one category of divorce:

• No-Fault Divorce

“No-Fault” basically can mean one thing –

1) There Is an Allegation of a “Breakdown” of the Marriage Without Any Hope or Sign of Reconciliation or Repair

No other stipulations, such as adultery, criminal convictions, or abuse are stated as grounds for divorce.

The Definition of “Legal Separation” Versus “Divorce

Of course, both parties to a marriage may elect to “legally separate” instead of proceed through a divorce. What’s the difference?

A legal separation is essentially both parties agreeing to go their separate ways without dissolving the marriage. There are many reasons for doing this, one being the need to retain certain benefits within the marriage agreement that would otherwise be discontinued upon a divorce. For instance: medical insurance.

Typically, though, a legal separation does lead to a divorce agreement, in which case all grounds for divorce move forward, as well as the marriage then becomes dissolved in a court of law along with any other benefits and assets, questions of child custody, parenting time, and support (if children are in fact present).

The Primary Documents For a Divorce in Iowa

Ten or twenty documents may be included in the proceeding, not limited to these:

• Verification (for Petition)

• Marital Settlement Agreement

• Financial Affidavit

• Notice of Final Hearing

• Petition for Dissolution of Marriage

• And Decree for Dissolution of Marriage

Divorce in Iowa : Property Distribution

When it comes to divorce in Iowa, it’s important to know that the state favors “equitable distribution.” This simply means that all assets are divided equally among both parties regardless of either party’s wishes. Sometimes, though, this doesn’t necessarily mean that “equitable” will be equal. Rather, the word fair is more the proper term to be used when dealing with property distribution.

Typically the court will encourage both the Petitioner and Respondent to come to an agreement about property distribution. If there’s no agreement, the court will decide.

In addition, the court may also award the wife her former or maiden name upon agreement of the divorce.

Divorce in Iowa : On the Subject of Spousal Support

This issue may only be relevant if the court or both parties see a need for either party to support the other financially for any reason either on a temporary or permanent basis.

Divorce in Iowa : Dealing With Child Custody

Generally speaking, parents can come to an agreement on this matter regarding divorce in Iowa in several ways

• Joint Physical Custody

• Sole Physical Custody

• Joint Legal Custody

• Sole Physical Custody

“Joint Physical Custody” is essentially sharing custody of the child(ren) in terms of where the child(ren) may live: either in mother’s residence, or father’s residence. Child(ren) retains two addresses. Both parties are equally responsible for the well-being of the child(ren) as well as for the education of the child(ren).

“Sole Physical Custody” is when one party retains physical custody of child(ren) and the other party retains “Visitation Rights.”

“Joint Legal Custody” is when both parents share the right to make important decisions in the life/lives of the child(ren), which may include legal name, lifestyle, needs, etc. etc.

“Sole Legal Custody” is when only one parent retains the right to make important decisions in the life/lives of the child(ren).

Divorce in Iowa : How to Determine Child Support If Necessary

Typically, the non-custodial parent pays child support. The Percentage of Income Formula is employed to determine the amount. By combining W2’s and other worksheets, an amount is determined that would best suit the needs of the child(ren) without unfavorable financial problems on the non-custodial party.

Generally speaking, both parties may agree to an amount. But in the event that a Petitioner and Respondent don’t, the court may utilize state support guidelines to arrive to a decision as to how much support is necessary for the child(ren).