Iowa State Divorce Law


Iowa State Divorce Laws And Resources

U.S. Divorce Laws are enacted by each state using their respective legislative process. Once legislation is enacted into law, the divorce courts in Iowa have the authority to manage the divorce proceedings, including, spousal and child support payments, custodial rights of parents and the division of community property.

Since state laws are repealed and amended frequently, it is always advisable to consult with an experienced divorce lawyer before making any important decisions about your marriage. You can also visit the GotTrouble Divorce Resource for a more in-depth understanding of related divorce and family law topics.

As of 2016, all states allow for “no fault” divorce. Yet many courts still factor in the respective parties past behavior when determining the division of community property, debts, custody, support and related issues.

Filing For Divorce:

The Petitioner may file a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage in the district court in the county where either party resides. The Petitioner has 90 days after filing the Petition to serve the Respondent. If the Petitioner fails to meet this deadline the case will be dismissed. No dissolution of marriage shall be granted before 90 days have passed since the following:

The date the original notice is served; The last day of publication of notice; The date that waiver or acceptance of original notice is filed; or Until after conciliation is completed, whichever period is longer. The court may hold a hearing and grant a decree of dissolution of marriage prior to the expiration of the 90-day waiting period if it receives a written notice supported by affidavit describing the grounds of emergency or necessity, and the court determines it is necessary.


On June 26, 2015, the US Supreme Court ruled that gay marriage is a right protected by the US Constitution in all 50 states. It follows, therefore, that the rights and obligations between same-sex divorcing parties are subject to the same dissolution laws of that state. Reference: US Supreme Court Opinion: Obergefell v. Hodges. (For more information visit

Right To Divorce Mediation:

The court may, on its own motion or on the motion of any party order the parties to participate in mediation in any dissolution of marriage action or other domestic relations action.

The court has established a dispute resolution process in family law cases that includes the opportunities for mediation and settlement conferences. Any judicial district may implement this dispute resolution program, subject to the judicial rules of the court.

Spouse’s Legal Name:

Either party to a marriage may request, as a part of a decree of dissolution or of annulment, a change in the person’s name to either the name appearing on the person’s birth certificate or to the name the person had immediately prior to the marriage.

Related Divorce Services And Resources

Marriage Counseling

Divorce Mediation Services

DNA Paternity Testing

Emergency Legal Lenders

Realtors – Relocation

Apartment Rentals

Roommate Search

Moving Services

Storage Facilities

Online Vocational Training

Meditation & Wellbeing

Legal Grounds for Divorce Not Necessary – No Fault 

The court shall enter a decree dissolving a marriage when there has been a breakdown of the marriage relationship to the extent that the legitimate objects of matrimony have been destroyed and there remains no reasonable likelihood that the marriage can be preserved.

Marital Property Division:

Upon every judgment of annulment, dissolution, or separate maintenance, the court shall divide the property of the parties and transfer the title of the property accordingly. Iowa is an equitable distribution state.

The court divides non-seperate property equitably between the parties after considering the following factors:

  • The age and physical and emotional health of the parties;
  • The earning capacity of each party, including educational background, training, employment skills, work experience, length of absence from the job market, custodial responsibilities for children, and the time and expense necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party to become self-supporting at a standard of living reasonably comparable to that enjoyed during the marriage;
  • The property brought to the marriage by each party;
  • The contribution of each party to the marriage, giving appropriate economic value to each party’s contribution in homemaking and child care services;
  • The desirability of awarding the family home or the right to live in the family home for a reasonable period to the party having custody of the children, or if the parties have joint legal custody, to the party having physical care of the children;
  • The contribution by one party to the education, training, or increased earning power of the other; The earning capacity of each party;
  • The length of time they were married;
  • The amount and duration of an order granting support payments to either party or whether the property division should be in lieu of such payments.

Child Custody Rights And Obligations:

The court may provide for joint custody of the child by the parties. The court shall order the custody award, including liberal visitation rights where appropriate, which will assure the child the opportunity for the maximum continuing physical and emotional contact with both parents after the parents have separated or dissolved the marriage, and which will encourage parents to share the rights and responsibilities of raising the child unless direct physical harm or significant emotional harm to the child, other children, or a parent is likely to result from such contact with one parent.

History Of Domestic Violence – General Presumption Against Custody:

If the court finds that a history of domestic abuse exists, the court will presume it does not serve the best interest of the child to award joint custody:

  • In considering what custody arrangement is in the best interest of the child, the court shall determine among other factors:
  • Whether one or both the parents agree or are opposed to joint custody;
  • The geographic proximity of the parents;
  • Whether the safety of the child, other children, or the other parent will be jeopardized by the awarding of joint custody or by unsupervised or unrestricted visitation;
  • Whether both parents have actively cared for the child before and since the separation; Whether each parent can support the other parents’ relationship with the child;
  • Whether the custody arrangement is in accord with the child’s wishes or whether the child has strong opposition, taking into consideration the child’s age and maturity;
  • Whether a history of domestic abuse exists;
  • Whether the psychological and emotional needs and development of the child will suffer due to lack of active contact with and attention from both parents;
  • Whether the parents can communicate with each other regarding the child’s needs;

If joint legal custody is awarded to both parents, the court may award joint physical care to both joint custodial parents upon the request of either parent. Before ruling on the request for the award of joint physical care, the court may require the parents to submit, either individually or jointly, a proposed joint physical parenting plan.

Child Support:

Child support is based on the net income of the parents and the number of children involved. While there are many things that can be deducted from a parents income to determine a parties net income, there are also many factors that cannot be deducted.

These include but are not limited to:

  • Housing Payments
  • Vehicle Payments
  • Savings And Stocks/Bonds
  • Credit Card Debt – Monthly Payments
  • Pension Plans
  • Public Assistance Payments

Iowa Child Support Recovery Unit:

If a parent defaults on their child support obligations, the Child Support Recovery Unit has a number of ways it can  enforce the support order. For example, it can withhold the amount from the parent’s check every month. This is called “income withholding.” Find out more about the Iowa Child Support Recovery Unit.


Learn about the Federal Office of Child Support and Enforcement:




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