Overview of the Divorce Process, How to File for Divorce in Iowa

October 1, 2013
Overview of the Divorce Process, How to File for Divorce in Iowa

At the Hope Law Firm P.L.C., we believe that the process you go through to obtain your divorce can be just as important as the end result. It is especially important to have a healthy, constructive process when you have young children who must come to terms with a radically different family dynamic.

Our compassionate attorneys listen to your concerns, help you identify your goals for life after divorce, and counsel you on the best path forward. If you want to dissolve your marriage in a manner that secures a healthy future for yourself and your children, then you need to have hope.

Residency Requirement for Filing for Divorce in Iowa

There is a one-year residency requirement for both spouses in an Iowa divorce. However, if the petitioning spouse (i.e. the one filing for divorce) is not a resident, then the requirement only applies to the respondent spouse (i.e. the one served with divorce papers).

The petitioner may file in the court of the county where either spouse is a resident. Non-resident spouses must file in the county where the respondent spouse resides.

Types of Divorce in Iowa

The divorce process changes slightly based on the type of divorce the couple seeks. In Iowa, there are three types of divorce possible:

  • No-fault Divorce — In Iowa, a petitioner may allege grounds for the divorce (i.e. legal justification for divorce based on marital misconduct), or may file on no-fault grounds by stating that the relationship has broken down and has no reasonable likelihood of revival. A spouse is not required to blame the other spouse for any particular misconduct. Still, a judge who is unsure of the need for a divorce may require the parties to participate in conciliation efforts for a period of 60 days. A no-fault divorce can be uncontested or contested, depending on how the spouses resolve ancillary issues.
  • Uncontested Divorce — In Iowa, if both spouses agree that divorce is appropriate and are able to reach an understanding on the ancillary issues, such as child custody, property distribution or spousal support, then the court may accept a marital settlement agreement. However, even in an uncontested divorce, Iowa law requires a 90-day waiting period from serving the petition to divorce decree. The court may waive the waiting period if the petitioner shows sufficient cause. The Hope Law Firm helps spouses achieve uncontested divorces through traditional negotiation and mediation.
  • Contested Divorce — In Iowa, if parties disagree on the need for a divorce or on the terms of any ancillary issues, the court eventually sets a date for trial before a judge. Each judicial district has its own procedures as part of the divorce process, which can include mandatory mediation.

The process of obtaining your divorce depends on your particular situation and the degree to which you and your spouse can communicate constructively. At the Hope Law Firm, we strive to do what is appropriate based on your unique circumstances to deliver the best possible outcome.

Choose the Best Process to Dissolve Your Marriage – Contact the Hope Law Firm

A concerned and engaged family law attorney can make all the difference in your divorce process. The Hope Law Firm is ready to help residents throughout Iowa. Call us at (515) 298-5056 or contact our West Des Moines office online to schedule an appointment, often within 24 hours.