Skip to main content
Iowa Resource
Divorce Attorneys
Cordell & Cordell divorce attorneys exclusively practice family law with a focus on men’s divorce.

Iowa Divorce Laws & FAQ

Iowa men’s divorce attorneys provide answers to frequently asked questions with regards to divorce in Iowa.Here are answers to frequently asked questions about divorce laws in Iowa:

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the legal grounds for divorce in Iowa?

Iowa recognizes “no-fault” divorce. In order to file for a divorce in Iowa, you must only cite that irreconcilable differences exist and there remains no likelihood of it being preserved for the marriage to be dissolved.

What is a divorce in Iowa going to cost me?

This is completely dependent on each case and the circumstances surrounding the same. The costs that could be included, as reported by the Iowa Supreme Court, are:

a) Filing fee — to start a divorce case ($185) – Iowa Code 602.8105(1)(a)

b) Final decree fee – at the end of the divorce case ($50) – Iowa Code 602.8105(1)(d)

c) Court reporting fee for each hearing in court ($40) – Iowa Code 625.8(2)

d) Certification of change of real estate title ($50) – Iowa Code 602.8105(2)(d)

Do I really need to hire an Iowa divorce attorney?

It is recommended, though not required. Many litigants who represent themselves miss deadlines, fail to preserve their rights, or later realize that it costs a tremendous amount more by not being represented.

Can I get maintenance or will I have to provide maintenance to my spouse in a divorce in Iowa?

Maintenance/support/alimony is determined on a case-by-case basis and is not based on gender. Both men and women may receive such an award.

Is Iowa a 50/50 state for divorce? How is property divided in a divorce in Iowa?

Iowa is an “equitable distribution” state which means property is not always divided 50/50. Instead, property will be divided in a “fair and reasonable” manner if spouses are unable to reach a settlement themselves.

When can I file for divorce in Iowa?

After you have lived in Iowa for at least one year with the purpose of making Iowa your permanent home and not for the sole purpose of obtaining a dissolution.

How long does it take to get a divorce in Iowa?

Every case is different. Therefore, the answer is “it depends.” The earliest a case can be over is 90 days:

No decree dissolving a marriage shall be granted in any proceeding before ninety days shall have elapsed from the day the original notice is served, or from the last day of publication of notice, or from the date that waiver or acceptance of original notice is filed or until after conciliation is completed, whichever period shall be longer. 598.19 Iowa Code.

How long do you have to be separated before divorce in Iowa?

While there is a 90 day waiting period between filing for divorce and when a divorce could be legally granted, Iowa does not have legal separation requirements.

What is the fastest way to get a divorce in Iowa?

An uncontested divorce is often the fastest, and cheapest, way to get a divorce in Iowa, and in most other states in the US.

Do I have to go to court for an Iowa divorce?

This also “depends.” Some jurisdictions, if everything is agreed upon and all proper documentation is signed, will never require the parties to be present at court.

Please understand, although you do not “have” to attend court, you may want to in order to understand the process, present testimony in support of an issue, and ensure you have a chance to be heard. This is especially true in custody matters, or if you believe one party may claim they did not agree to a particular term in an order.

If attempts to serve my spouse during an Iowa divorce do not work, what is my next step?

There are a few alternatives. If service by sheriff did not work, it may require using a civil process server. If service in a particular locale did not work, it may require service at another locale.

If after reasonable attempts at personal service are not fruitful, your divorce lawyer can ask the court for permission to serve via publication.

At what point during the divorce process in Iowa can a spouse remarry or start dating?

After the divorce is final one can remarry. It is final after the court signs and enters the order. One’s choice in dating is dependent on circumstances.

What if my spouse does not want the divorce?

The court could order conciliation proceedings for 60 days. However, the court will not force a person to stay married.

Does it matter who files for divorce first in Iowa?

The spouse that files for divorce, called the Petitioner, could take advantage of controlling when the divorce case starts, the timeline of serving divorce or custody papers, and the scheduling of initial court dates.

Do the other issues – support, custody, alimony, and property – have to be decided before finalizing a divorce in Iowa?

All must be decided and incorporated in the final Decree of Dissolution, or they must be tried and decided by the court.

What if I am in the military and out of the state of Iowa?

This is ok, so long as one of you is a resident, submits to jurisdiction, and waive any rights you may have under The Servicemember’s Civil Relief Act (SCRA) or the former Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Civil Relief Act (SSCRA).

What forms do I need to file for a divorce in Iowa?

This is changing due to migrating to an electronic filing system. However, the forms that are typically used are:

Petition for Dissolution of Marriage

Coversheet for a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage

Confidential Information Form

Original Notice for Personal Service

Acceptance of Service of Original Notice

Directions for Service of Original Notice

Motion and Affidavit to Serve by Publication (if you cannot serve)

Original Notice by Publication

Application and Affidavit to Defer Payment of Costs (if you cannot afford the divorce)

How and where is an Iowa divorce complaint filed?

The complaint can be filed in the county where either party resides.

It is usually best to file where either the children are present or where real estate is present for ease and jurisdictional issues which may present themselves.

How do I prove fault for divorce in Iowa?

Fault is not relevant in Iowa for the purposes of obtaining a dissolution.

However, whether a spouse has a paramour, in very particular situations, may be relevant for the proof of dissipation of assets or whether the acts committed were egregious enough to warrant not awarding a party custody of minor children.

At any time can a parent change a minor child’s last name without the other parent’s permission during a divorce in Iowa?

This information comes directly from the Iowa Supreme Court website:

If the child is fourteen years of age or older, you must provide the child’s written consent to the name change. If the child is under fourteen years old, both parents named on the birth certificate must file their written consent to the name change.

If one parent does not consent, the court will set a hearing. At the hearing, the court may waive the need for both parents’ consent if it finds one of the following:

The parent has abandoned the child.

The parent has failed, without good cause, to support the child or contribute financially for the child’s birth.

The parent does not object to the name change after receiving proper notice.

Can a couple become legally married by living together as man and wife under Iowa’s laws (common law marriage)?

It depends. According to Iowa laws, no specified period of time must pass, but the parties must:

  1. Have an agreement they are married
  2. Must live together as partners
  3. Publicly act and display their “marriage”

Only the court can determine if the parties are married and only the court can dissolve a common law marriage.

Frank Murphy

Edited By Frank Murphy

Chief Compliance Officer
Frank Murphy

Frank Murphy is the Chief Compliance Officer and an Executive Partner at Cordell & Cordell. His responsibilities include oversight of the Firm’s compliance with Legal and Ethical obligations as well as contributing to the day-to-day operations of the Firm as an Executive Partner.

lawyer meeting client for consultation
Book Your Initial Consultation
lawyer meeting client for consultation

Iowa Family Law Offices

We have 200+ attorneys serving 35 sates.
Connect with a local Cordell & Cordell attorney for accurate, state-specific legal advice on divorce, custody, and spousal support issues.
cordell icon white

Why Hire
Cordell & Cordell?

Men hire Cordell & Cordell because the firm’s entire focus is on aggressively championing the rights of men and fathers through divorce. Our attorneys understand how the deck is often stacked against guys in family law and are committed to leveling the playing field by providing the legal guidance and resources needed to give them a fair chance at success.