Uncontested Divorce in Iowa
The Iowa divorce process can either be contested or uncontested, depending on whether you and your spouse agree to cooperate.
- A contested divorce can occur if one spouse wants to dissolve the marriage, while the other doesn't, if the plaintiff files a petition alleging a fault-based ground, or if the spouses cannot agree on the terms of their divorce. Thus, disputes the parties cannot settle (like child-related issues, property division, spousal support, etc.) will be decided through litigation. The judge will determine the best settlement for their divorce case.
- In an uncontested divorce, the spouses negotiate and settle all their disputes out of court. They must create a Marital Settlement Agreement, memorializing terms for finances, alimony, marital property, and parental responsibility for minor children.
Uncontested divorces are faster than contested ones. Besides, if the spouses are ready to negotiate, they can save money. Using alternative dispute resolution methods and online divorce services is typically cheaper than seeking the help of a law firm to handle divorce matters.
Get Your Divorce Forms Completed Online
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All you need to do is answer the questions of our online interview and provide detailed information on your marriage and divorce. You can work with the files whenever and wherever is comfortable for you and move at your own pace, going back and making edits if necessary. And once the questionnaire is completed, all the necessary documents will be ready within only two business days.
We strictly abide by the state's Family Law and specific district court rules and requirements. We aim to help you avoid mistakes in divorce documents so that your case can move through the Iowa court system without delays and complications. DivorceOnline cannot provide legal advice, but we are irreplaceable when it comes to divorce papers preparation.
Steps for Filing a Divorce in Iowa
An uncontested divorce process in Iowa involves several consecutive actions.
Following the Iowa Code, if the defendant (non-filing spouse) is an Iowa resident and was personally served with copies of divorce papers, there is no residency requirement for the plaintiff (the spouse initiating the case). Otherwise, the plaintiff must have been a state resident for one year before filing for divorce.
To file for a divorce in Iowa, the spouse who initiates the case must complete the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, declaring the relevant ground upon which the divorce is sought. Iowa is a no-fault divorce state, meaning that neither spouse has to blame the other and prove marital misconduct (like adultery, abandonment, cruel treatment, alcohol or drug abuse, etc.) for the court to grant the divorce. Thus, under Iowa law, a marriage can be dissolved when the plaintiff alleges that there has been an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage relationship, with no prospect for reconciliation. However, unlike some other no-fault states, Iowa requires that the couple provide evidence that the marriage relationship is over before a court can approve the request. This prof can be, for example, the testimony of the couple's friends or family, written documents like text messages that show a damaged relationship, or either spouse's testimony.
To start a divorce in Iowa, the plaintiff must file the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage and other completed divorce papers with the Clerk of Court in the county where either spouse lives.
Divorce papers in Iowa
Court forms that a couple must file to start a divorce case can vary depending on the county where the spouses file for divorce, having minor children, and other circumstances of their particular case.
The most commonly used Iowa divorce papers include:
- Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with no Minor or Dependent Adult Children (Form 101) / with Children (Form 201)
- Cover Sheet for a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with no Minor or Dependent Adult Children (Form 102) / with Children (Form 202)
- Confidential Information Form (Form 203)
- Original Notice for Personal Service (Form 104 and Form 204 for divorce with no children and with children, respectively)
When the plaintiff submits the necessary forms with the Clerk of Court, they must pay a mandatory filing fee ($265 on average). The Clerk can give you a list of all the filing fees for your case, or you can visit the government website of your county. In some cases, the court may postpone fees in the interest of justice. If the plaintiff cannot afford to pay, they may file an Application and Affidavit to Defer Payment of Costs.
Iowa Family Law provides a mandatory 90-days waiting period from the date the respondent is served with the dissolution of marriage papers before the judge signs a final decree. Typically, even an uncontested divorce cannot be granted until the waiting period expires. However, in some cases, it may be shortened by a Motion if the judge finds exceptional circumstances.
When the case is filed, the plaintiff must serve the defendant with copies of initial court forms within ninety days after filing. In Iowa, the procedure of serving divorce papers can be accomplished in several ways:
- Via the Acceptance of Service of Original Notice form, delivered to the defendant in person or by mail
The defendant must sign the Acceptance of Service, and the plaintiff must file the signed form with the Clerk of Court as an acknowledgment of service.
- By a sheriff deputy service or private process server
The court forms needed in such a case are the Petition, the Original Notice, and Protected Information Disclosure. The process server shall file the "proof of service" with the Court Clerk after the plaintiff pays the service fee.
After delivering the Petition and Original Notice to the defendant, the spouses can complete and file their Settlement Agreement and other required divorce forms during the waiting period. Besides, the court may require the spouses to attend educational or mediation programs during this time. Utilizing mediation can help the parties to develop their Settlement Agreement as soon as possible and reduce stress and conflicts. Then, the spouses must file a Motion for a hearing date. An uncontested divorce final hearing is just a brief and formal meeting with the judge. The judge usually asks some questions about the couple's Settlement Agreement terms. Then, if the judge approves the agreement, the court enters a divorce decree (makes it a final judgment).
Getting a Divorce With Children
In an Iowa divorce involving children, the court makes decisions based on the child's best interests, considering multiple factors and circumstances of a particular divorce case, including:
- each spouse's parenting skills;
- each spouse's willingness and ability to negotiate and cooperate for the child's benefit;
- each parent's willingness and ability to encourage contact between the child and the other parent;
- the geographic proximity of the parents;
- the child's and both parents' mental and physical health;
- whether both parents spent significant time taking care of the child while they were married;
- each parent's preferences about custody;
- any history of domestic violence or child abuse;
- and any other factors that the judge may deem relevant.
If the spouses resolve child custody and child support issues independently, they must sign a Parenting Plan. The judge will evaluate whether its terms are fair and reasonable and approve this agreement without a trial. The Parenting Plan should cover physical and legal custody terms. Physical custody means providing a home for and taking care of the child, and a legal one determines the parents' decision-making authority. Iowa Family Law contains a presumption that joint legal custody is a preferable option in most cases unless proven otherwise (for example, if there is evidence of domestic violence and abuse)
In the context of child support, standard Iowa Child Support Guidelines in almost every case, barring extraordinary circumstances. When determining the amount of child support, both parents' incomes, the number of children, and child-related expenses are considered. An obligation of child support continues until the child reaches 18 (or 19, provided that the child is a full-time high school student).
For the divorcing spouses who have minor children, the following additional court forms are provided:
- Agreed Parenting Plan (Form 229)
- Proposed Parenting Plan (Form 230)
- Affidavit for Temporary Custody and Visitation (Form 221)
- Financial Affidavit for a Dissolution of Marriage with Children (Form 224)
- Motion in a Dissolution of Marriage with Children (Form 222)
- Child Support Guidelines Worksheet
Filing for Divorce in Iowa Without a Lawyer
Getting a divorce in Iowa may cost you thousands of dollars. However, when the spouses seek an uncontested divorce and do not need legal advice, they may handle their case without an attorney and lower divorce costs significantly. A do-it-yourself divorce is a legit option, available for all who would like to prepare and file all the required divorce papers and documents independently. And to complete all the forms correctly and avoid delays and other potential risks and pitfalls of such a DIY approach, the spouses can use affordable online divorce services.
Do-It-Yourself Divorce in Iowa
- The spouses attempting a DIY divorce should be well-aware of their particular legal rights and Iowa courts' requirements to avoid mistakes in legal forms. Otherwise, the court can reject the papers, and the case will be prolonged.
- DivorceOnline.com was specifically designed to help couples make this complicated process of document preparation more manageable. For as little as $139, you'll get your completed court-approved divorce forms and comprehensive filing instructions.
- With extensive experience in the field, our reliable online divorce assistance service provides a quick and cheap solution for paperwork hassles. Using this website, you don't have to grapple with the court forms on your own or overpay lawyers for the same services.
Frequently Asked Questions:
The length of the divorce process in Iowa largely depends on whether the spouses contest the case or not and whether they filed all the completed documents on time. An uncontested divorce by mutual agreement can take a minimum of 90 days due to the mandatory waiting period. However, since most district courts have very busy schedules, setting a final hearing date usually takes another week or more.
The cost of an agreed divorce in Iowa is about $4000, considering an average flat fee charged by lawyers for uncontested cases. However, the divorcing spouses have many alternative options for arranging the process, including mediation, counseling, limited-scope legal representation, or online divorce services. Thus, handling the process without the assistance of a law firm is one of the easiest ways to lower the cost of divorce if the spouses reach an agreement.
There is no such thing as free divorce in Iowa. However, if the plaintiff cannot afford the court filing fee, the court might allow them to postpone the payment. To ask the court to pay the fee or costs later, the plaintiff must file an Application and Affidavit to Defer Payment of Costs.
Iowa divorce forms necessary to file in different circumstances include but are not limited to Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with no Minor or Dependent Adult Children / with Children, Coversheet for a Petition for Divorce, Confidential Information Form, Financial Affidavit, Original Notice for Personal Service, Agreed / Proposed Parenting Plan, Affidavit for Temporary Custody and Visitation, Child Support Guidelines Worksheet.