The Basics of Iowa Divorce

Map showing Iowa.

Divorce is a complex process for all involved. Each state has its own unique approaches to divorce, making it even more challenging to know what you should expect. However, experienced attorneys knowledgeable in Iowa family law can help demystify any confusion related to marriage dissolution. That’s why Family Law Solutions of Iowa is here to explain the basics of Iowa divorce.

Legal Separation, Annulment, and Divorce

In the state of Iowa, there are several options when it comes to ending or pressing pause on your marriage.

Legal Separation

In a legal separation, you and your spouse must meet residency requirements, both living in Iowa for at least one year. When filing the request, it has to be in the county of one of the spouses. The grounds for legal separation are if the marriage is broken; however, you still have to wait a minimum of 90 days for the courts to grant the request. This time allows the couple to attend court-ordered counseling sessions to see if the marriage can improve. Before the courts can approve the agreement, you will have to decide on aspects such as child support, assets, and alimony.


An annulment means that there was no valid marriage to begin with. For example, if you married a relative or you were under the legal age of marriage. Another potential reason for annulment is if you or your spouse were not mentally competent at the time of the marriage. To request an annulment, you have to have lived in Iowa for the last year and file the Petition for Annulment.


Divorce provides a permanent, legal resolution to marriage. All issues such as child support and alimony payments are hashed out before the final divorce decree from the courts. You still have to wait a minimum of 90 days for the court to grant your request, and you still may have to attend counseling.

Grounds for Divorce

When filing for a divorce, you may think that there has to be a specific reason to prove why the marriage needs to end. However, Iowa is a no-fault state. What this means is that the couple does not have to state a specific reason for divorce. Instead, they just have to cite that there are irreconcilable differences in the marriage. To learn more about the grounds of divorce, check out our blog here.

Options for Divorce

When considering filing for divorce, you may wonder what your options are. Here is what to consider when you begin to approach the process.

  • DIY Divorce: This option means that you tackle the divorce process all by yourself. There are no legal professionals involved, and the outcome boils down to what you and your spouse can accomplish.

  • Litigation: Litigation is the most popular default option for divorce. This is an attorney-driven process, where you will have someone to represent your needs. If you and your spouse can’t agree, this option will likely be the best for your family.

  • Mediation: Mediation is a process that involves relying on a neutral third party to help navigate different aspects of marriage dissolution, such as child support and custody. The mediator will listen to both sides and strive to reach a fair outcome.

  • Collaborative Divorce: This is a structured process where everyone works together as a team. Legal professionals, financial specialists, and divorce coaches collaborate, each party committing to not escalate to court. The goal is to reach a creative solution that meets the needs and interests of those involved.

Process for Filing

Regardless of how you choose to approach the end of your marriage, there are essential steps to take that are pivotal to the process.

  • Gather Important Documents & Information: To achieve the best outcome possible, you need to be organized in gathering essential documents and information. For example, when compiling financial information, make sure to close shared accounts and have access to cards in your name. Tax returns, pay stubs, car registration, and deeds are a few examples of the essential documents that you need.

  • Complete Initial Paperwork: In this step, you will have to complete and submit forms to the court. An attorney can help immensely in this process, ensuring that you have the correct documents and that they are filed appropriately.

  • File the Forms: After the completion of important documents, the paperwork will be filed in the county of you or your spouse. Make sure to check your residency requirements and that you can file in the location you intend to.

Work With an Experienced Attorney

Technically, you can file for divorce in Iowa without an attorney. However, this is not necessarily advisable. Divorce is a long, complex process that can become less anxiety-inducing with the help of an experienced attorney. Family Law Solutions of Iowa has the experience and knowledge to help you achieve the outcome you deserve in your divorce case.

To schedule a consultation, call us at (515) 305-3474 or visit us online.

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