Iowa Divorce Law
Every state has its own divorce and legal separation laws and procedures, some of which vary significantly from each other. Here you can find general information on getting a divorce, legal separation or annulment in Iowa. If you are considering ending your marriage in any of these ways, it is a good idea to contact an Iowa divorce attorney who can explain in detail all options available to you.
Iowa Legal Separation
Iowa recognizes both “legal separation” and divorce; both are granted by a court on the basis of the same grounds. However, legal separation differs from a divorce in that the couple is still legally married and cannot remarry as they might choose to after a divorce. Most of the issues handled in divorce proceedings can be addressed in a legal separation, by means of separate “maintenance agreements.” For instance, a couple can divide up their property according to terms they have agreed upon in a maintenance agreement. There are many reasons why a couple might choose to legally separate instead of dissolve their marriage; an Iowa divorce attorney can offer further information to help you choose between a legal separation and a divorce.
Iowa Divorce – Grounds/No Fault
Divorce in Iowa is “no-fault.” This means that courts will recognize only one ground for dissolving the marriage: the marriage’s breakdown beyond repair, such that “the legitimate objects of matrimony” have been destroyed and there is “no reasonable likelihood” that the marriage can be salvaged. If you are seeking a divorce and file for No-Fault grounds you do not have to prove that your spouse was at fault in the breakdown of the marriage; you simply need to show that the marriage has broken down and cannot be repaired.
Iowa Divorce—Residency & Waiting Period
Either party seeking divorce must have been an Iowa resident for at least one year before filing. Further, the divorce petition must be filed in the circuit court that has jurisdiction over the county in which either party is a resident. Except for some emergency situations, Iowa courts will not grant divorce decrees until at least 90 days have passed since the original petition was filed.
Iowa Divorce—Simplified or Special Divorce Procedures
If you and your spouse want to file a joint petition, you will each be referred to as “co-petitioners,” rather than “petitioner” and “respondent.” Some counties in Iowa allow parties to reach a settlement agreement, or to make use of pre-printed forms; these options facilitate the dissolution of the marriage and can reduce the time involved. Speak with an Iowa divorce attorney for more information about any forms, settlements, or other special procedures.
Unlike a divorce, in which a valid marriage is dissolved, an annulment is a court’s declaration that the marriage was never valid to begin with. In Iowa, some reasons a marriage might be declared invalid via annulment include: one party’s status as a minor at the time of marriage, impotence, fraud, consanguinity (closeness of blood relationship), duress (force), or a prior marriage that was never legally dissolved.
You can find the following divorce statutes in the Iowa Code here.
Please note that this list is not exhaustive; to learn about Iowa divorce, annulment or legal separation in greater detail, you should consult an Iowa divorce attorney.