Residency and Grounds
The spouse who files for divorce (Petitioner) must live in Iowa for a year before filing. A couple can obtain a no-fault divorce in Iowa on the grounds that there has been an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. This just means that your marriage is broken and you don't think it can be fixed.
Filing for Divorce
All divorces in Iowa are filed with the District Court Clerk's office in a county where either spouse lives.
Serving Your Spouse
Serving your spouse with divorce papers is very easy in Iowa--just mail or hand-deliver them. Your spouse (Respondent) then signs an Acceptance of Service form--notarization is NOT required. This saves the Petitioner the expense of hiring a Sheriff to serve process and lets the Respondent avoid the embarrassment and inconvenience of being formally served.
Tip: If you mail divorce papers to your spouse, include the Acceptance of Service form and a self-addressed stamped envelope for him or her to use to easily return the signed form to you for filing.
Finalizing Your Uncontested Iowa Divorce
Uncontested divorces are either finalized by default or by agreement.
Divorce by Default:
- This is the preferred method when the Respondent is unlikely to cooperate in signing divorce papers.
- In a default divorce, all of the terms that would normally be included in a Settlement Agreement signed by both spouses are instead included in a Request for Relief form that only the Petitioner signs.
- You may not use this method if the Respondent is active-duty military.
Divorce by Agreement:
- Divorce by agreement requires the Respondent to sign an Answer and Settlement Agreement.
- Respondent's signed Answer must be filed within 20 days of being served with divorce papers.
- Divorce by agreement is used when the Respondent is cooperative and will sign divorce papers.
If you aren't sure which method is right for you, divorce by default is usually the best choice. If you change your mind, don't worry. Your DivorceWriter purchase allows you to easily access both sets of documents at no additional charge.