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Iowa Divorce Self-Help Center

Many customer Iowa divorce questions are answered here.  Browse from the topics below or use the search box to narrow your search.
 
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General Information State Procedures   Custody, Visitation, Support
  Property and Debts   Special Circumstances Additional Resources
STATE PROCEDURES
What is considered to be the date of separation in Iowa? 647
The term "separation date" sometimes refers to the date when the spouses stopped living at... more
Where do I file my divorce papers in Iowa? 2591
In Iowa, divorces are filed in the District Court Clerk's office
Will either of us be required to attend a court hearing? 2593
If the divorce is finalized by default,the Petitioner must attend a brief court hearing to finalize the divorce. If the divorce is finalized by Settlement Agreement, the Petitioner will meet with the judge to review the Settlement Agreement, commonly in a less formal setting than a court hearing.
What are the Iowa residency requirements for filing for divorce? 2597
The spouse who files for divorce (Petitioner) must have lived in Iowa for at least 365 days before filing for divorce.
What are the grounds for filing for divorce in Iowa? 2598
A couple can divorce in Iowa on the grounds there has been an irretreivable breakdown of the marriage. [Iowa Code Chapter 598.17]
What are the basic steps to getting a divorce in Iowa? 2601
The basic steps to getting a divorce in Iowa are:
  1. File a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with the District Court Clerk in the county where either spouse lives.
  2. Mail or hand-deliver a copy of the of the Petition to your spouse and have him or her sign an Acceptance of Service.
  3. Either (a) Your spouse defaults by not filing an answer within twenty (20) days of service and file additional documents with the Clerk; or (b) You and your spouse sign a Settlement Agreement and file additional documents with the Clerk.
  4. Either (a) Attend a brief hearing to finalize the divorce after Respondent's default or (b) Meet with the judge to review the Settlement Agreement signed by the parties.
How much is the filing fee in Iowa? 2602
The filing fee charged by the Court is NOT included in the DivorceWriter price. The fee for filing for divorce in Iowa varies from county to county, but is typically $185.00.
What documents are included in the self-prepared Iowa DivorceWriter package? 2603
The following documents are included in the Iowa no children divorce package:
  • FL-101 Petition for Dissolution of Marriage
  • FL-102 Coversheet
  • FL-104 Original Notice for Personal Service
  • FL-105 Acceptance of Service of Original Notice
  • FL-115* Answer to Petition for Dissolution of Marriage
  • FL-124* Financial Affidavit - Each party (Petitioner and Respondent) must fill out one of these. If the Respondent does not fill one in, the Petitioner can get a final Divorce decree by default.
  • FL-126 Notice of Intent to File a Written Application for Default Decree -- Petitioner uses this if the Respondent has not filed an Answer to the Petition and the Petitioner wants to ask the court for a final divorce Decree.
  • FL-127* Request for Relief (Final Decree) in Dissolution of Marriage. If a Petitioner is getting a final divorce Decree by default - just the Petitioner fills this in. If the spouses will be going to trial to get a final divorce Decree -- each spouse should fill in one of these.
  • FL-128* Settlement Agreement for Dissolution of Marriage
Note: The Judge provides the Final Decree.
How long does it usually take to finalize a divorce in Iowa? 2604
Under Iowa law, there is a waiting period of 90 days before a Judge can sign the final divorce Decree. The 90 days begins when the Acceptance of Service of Original Notice (FL-105) was filed at the Clerk’s office.

Under certain circumstances, the Judge may waive the 90-day waiting period, but first, the party that wants the waiver must file an FL-122 Motion explaining why the Judge should waive the waiting period. DivorceWriter cannot assist you in explaining the need for the waiver on your Motion although we will provide you with a Motion to complete.
How do I serve my spouse with the divorce papers in Iowa? 2605
Within 90 days of filing for divorce, the Petitioner either hand-delivers or sends by regular U.S. Mail a copy of the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage and related documents to the other spouse. Note: If Petitioner fails to serve the Respondent within the 90-day deadline, the Petition will be dismissed and will have to be refiled including paying the filing fee again. Do not wait until the last day to serve the Respondent. Weekends and holidays do count as part of the 90-day deadline.
Do we have to be separated to get a divorce in Iowa? 2606
No. There is no requirement that the spouses live separate and apart in order to get a divorce in Iowa.
Can I change my name in Iowa divorce proceedings? 2607
Yes. In Iowa, either spouse is entitled to resume a former or maiden name as part of the divorce proceedings. [Iowa Code 598.37] There is no additional charge to have this request added to your divorce documents.
Does Iowa require divorcing spouses and/or their child(ren) to attend a class or seminar on coping with divorce? 2609
Yes. In Iowa, the court will order the parties to any action which involves the issues of child custody or visitation to participate in a court-approved course to educate and sensitize the parties to the needs of any child or party during and subsequent to the proceeding within forty-five (45) days of the service of the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage.

For more information, see Iowa Code 598.15.
What is the difference between divorce by agreement and divorce by default? 3372
  • Decree by Default-Respondent is only required to sign an Acceptance of Service. The Petitioner files additional documents and attends a brief divorce hearing to finalize the divorce.
  • Decree by Agreement-Respondent must sign an Acceptance of Service and must also file an Answer within 20 days of being served with divorce papers. Both spouses sign the Settlement Agreement and the Petitioner meets with the judge to review the Settlement Agreement before the divorce is finalized.
Is e-filing required in Iowa? 3793
As of June 30, 2015, every county in Iowa allows (and most require) electronic filing (aka e-filing) of divorce papers. Your DivorceWriter filing procedures include detailed information on how to e-file your documents and helpful tips for those who aren't sure how to e-file.

A list of counties requiring divorce forms to be filed electronically is available at here. If you are filing for divorce in a county that requires electronic filing, you must register and electronically file your documents using the Electronic Document Management System (EDMS). You may set up an account for electronic filing here by clicking "request account." You may then either file electronically on your own or you make take your documents to the Court Clerk's office where they can assist you in filing as long as you have registered for an account.

How do I comply with Chapter 16 rules concerning the redaction of protected information? 3821
In order to comply with the Chapter 16 rules, the following information should be listed on the Confidential Information Form and should NOT appear on any other divorce documents:
  • Social Security numbers
  • Financial account numbers
  • Complete dates of birth (only year of birth is allowed)
  • Full names of minor children
  • Individual taxpayer identification numbers
  • Personal identification numbers
  • Other unique identifying numbers
.
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CUSTODY, VISITATION, SUPPORT
We already have a child support order issued by a judge. Will we be able to keep the same amount? 2608
DivorceWriter provides the option to enter information regarding an existing child support order including the amount of support ordered and other identifying case information. Generally, you must also attach a copy of the prior support order to the Settlement Agreement when it is filed.
What are the different types of custody in Iowa? 2599
  1. "Joint custody" or "joint legal custody" means an award of legal custody of a minor child to both parents jointly under which both parents have legal custodial rights and responsibilities toward the child and under which neither parent has legal custodial rights superior to those of the other parent. Rights and responsibilities of joint legal custody include, but are not limited to, equal participation in decisions affecting the child's legal status, medical care, education, extracurricular activities, and religious instruction.
  2. "Joint physical care" means an award of physical care of a minor child to both joint legal custodial parents under which both parents have rights and responsibilities toward the child including, but not limited to, shared parenting time with the child, maintaining homes for the child, providing routine care for the child and under which neither parent has physical care rights superior to those of the other parent.
  3. "Legal custody" or "custody" means an award of the rights of legal custody of a minor child to a parent under which a parent has legal custodial rights and responsibilities toward the child. Rights and responsibilities of legal custody include, but are not limited to, decision making affecting the child's legal status, medical care, education, extracurricular activities, and religious instruction.
When can a child support order be modified in Iowa? 2600
The Court may modify child support when there is a substantial change in circumstances. In determining whether there is a substantial change in circumstances, the court shall consider the following:
  1. Changes in the employment, earning capacity, income, or resources of a party.
  2. Receipt by a party of an inheritance, pension, or other gift.
  3. Changes in the medical expenses of a party.
  4. Changes in the number or needs of dependents of a party.
  5. Changes in the physical, mental, or emotional health of a party.
  6. Changes in the residence of a party.
  7. Remarriage of a party.
  8. Possible support of a party by another person.
  9. Changes in the physical, emotional, or educational needs of a child whose support is governed by the order.
  10. Contempt by a party of existing orders of court.
  11. When the court order for child support varies by ten percent or more from the amount which would be due pursuant to the most current child support guidelines established pursuant to Iowa Code 598.21B or a parent has a health benefit plan available as provided in Iowa Code 252E.1A and the current order for support does not contain provisions for medical support.
What if my spouse and I have agreed to use a child support amount that is different from the standard amount set by the Child Support Guidelines? 2594
DivorceWriter shows the child support calculation under the guidelines using the Iowa Child Support Guidelines. The customer chooses whether to use the guideline calculation or to deviate from that calculation by entering a different child support amount. If the amount is a deviation from the basic support obligation, the customer will explain the reasons for the deviation in space provided in the interview.

The Court will generally approve a variation from the guidelines if the calculation under the guidelines would be unjust or inappropriate.
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ADDITIONAL RESOURCES
Where can I find the full-text version of the Iowa divorce statutes online? 2610
The laws concerning divorce in Iowa are found in Ch. 598 of the Code of Iowa. To view the Code of Iowa, click here.
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CUSTOMER SERVICE
If unable to find help on this page, issues of a non-legal nature may be directed to customer service.
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