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How Long Does Divorce Take in Iowa?

How the Divorce Process Works in Iowa

For couples who are considering splitting, understanding the divorce process in Iowa and how long it takes to get a divorce can be challenging. Getting divorced in Iowa can take anywhere from just a few months or up to a year to complete. The Courts refer to a divorce as a “dissolution of marriage.”  Here’s what you should know.

Iowa Divorce Requirements

Like most states, Iowa is a no-fault state, meaning you do not need to prove why you should be allowed to get divorced or what led to your marriage ending.

If you're the one filing for divorce, you would be known as the petitioner to the court, and you do not have to list any reason for the divorce to file with the Court.

What's Needed to Prepare for Divorce?

Before meeting with your attorney, you should gather certain information to allow for a good head-start. Gather financial information, note the accounts you and your spouse have together, and accounts in your name alone.

After your divorce is filed, your attorney may gather additional important documents that will impact your divorce; for example:

  • Bank account statements.
  • Tax returns you filed jointly or separately, for the last 3 years.
  • Whole Life insurance policies.
  • Retirement statements, such as 401Ks, IPERS, or IRA balances.
  • Pension account documents.
  • Current Mortgage statement.
  • Last six months of paycheck stubs
  • List of any and all credit card accounts

Starting the Divorce Process

To officially start the divorce process, you should contact an Iowa family law attorney to help you file the divorce's initial paperwork. An attorney will guide you in the right direction and file paperwork correctly.

It's important to have an attorney go through your divorce paperwork with you so you address all critical issues and file the right documents in a timely manner. After your attorney completes the required forms and other paperwork, your attorney will file them electronically with the court.

How Long Will It Take to Finalize Your Divorce?

To proceed with your divorce, you will need to serve a notice of the divorce proceeding to your spouse.  Once your spouse is served, the Court takes jurisdiction of the matter, which means the Court now will enforce timelines and requirements in the divorce.  When your spouse is served, the spouse will have 20 days to respond, beginning the day after he or she was served with the paperwork. Your attorney should arrange to have your spouse served.

Iowa has a ninety (90) day cooling off period, which begins after the paperwork is filed and then served to your spouse.  What this means is that the Court will not enter a Decree of Dissolution (Divorce Order) for ninety days after your spouse has been served.  This is to ensure that one or both parties are still in agreement with the divorce.

Divorce Filing Types in Iowa

Three types of divorce proceedings exist in Iowa: contested, uncontested, and default. The type of divorce you file will significantly impact the length of time it takes to settle your case.

Contested Divorces

Some factors can make your divorce take longer such as when your spouse contests the divorce, which takes the longest to finalize. A contested divorce happens when you and your spouse can't agree on terms on the divorce like child support, custody, spousal support, or other factors. 

Contesting your divorce will result in your attorney attempting to negotiate a settlement with your spouse’s attorney on your behalf. If negotiations aren’t successful, you will enter the discovery stage in your case.

The discovery process is time-consuming and you and your spouse’s claims are investigated using evidence and witnesses. Going to trial will result in your divorce being extended and will take longer to finalize.

Uncontested Divorces

Your marriage can be uncontested through a dissolution of marriage if both parties agree on the terms of your divorce, including spousal support, child support, and you agree not to go to trial. If you don't have dependent children and both agree with the petition's terms, your divorce can be completed in as little as 90 days — or three months.

Default Divorces

When your spouse is served with divorce papers and fails to respond to the petition for dissolution of marriage within 20 days, the court will allow a filing of a notice to your spouse that you intend to seek a default divorce with the Court even if your spouse does not participate in the process.  Once your spouse has been notified the Court can then set a hearing in which they may grant all of your requests.

How Can a Family Law Attorney Help?

When you are ready to begin your divorce process, a family law attorney can help your case. At Family Law Solutions of Iowa, our skilled family law attorneys know how unique every divorce is.

We handle each case with care and attention while we work hard for our clients. We take the time to learn about our clients’ unique situations and needs and advise you of your rights.

Contact our experienced attorneys today at 515-639-3000 to speak to an intake specialist and schedule a consultation about your divorce case.