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Divorce in Iowa

The decision to get a divorce is never an easy one. However, now that you have arrived at this decision, you are probably looking for the simplest way to get a divorce available. Fortunately, the divorce process in Iowa is fairly straightforward and you might be able to complete it without a lawyer. Beginning the divorce process can be as easy as filling out the proper Iowa divorce papers online and submitting them to your county clerk.

We’ve compiled the following information to help you understand the basics of an Iowa divorce and how to get started.

Iowa Divorce Facts

In Iowa, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the divorce rate in 2011 was 2.4 for every 1,000 residents. The divorce rate in Iowa in 1990 was 3.9 per 1,000, but it has gone down steadily since then. Iowa's divorce rate is the lowest in the United States of all reported to the CDC.

Iowa refers to divorce as “dissolution of marriage” and has one of the longest residency requirements of any state. You or your spouse must live in the state for a full year before you can file. The fastest and least expensive way to get divorced is to seek an uncontested divorce, where you and your spouse come to terms about property division and child custody before you file. If you and your spouse are struggling to reach an agreement, mediated divorce may be an option, or in more complicated situations seek legal representation from a divorce attorney.  

Iowa is what is known as a “no-fault” state. A no-fault divorce state means you do not need to place blame on one spouse for the need to divorce. Since no party needs to be at fault, you can simply say that the marriage has broken down and that the relationship will not improve.

Iowa Divorce Papers and Forms

The Iowa Judicial Branch website has a page devoted to divorce and family law forms, where you can find guides and papers for different types of divorce. Iowa offers forms for “Divorce with no Minor or Dependent Adult Children” and “Divorce with Children”. You will need to determine what category you fall into before you begin filling out forms.

Before starting Iowa’s divorce papers, you should check with your local county clerk to verify that you are filling out all the appropriate forms for your situation as some counties have different requirements.  

The Iowa Commission on the Status of Women offers a pamphlet Divorce: Things to Consider that explains divorce in the state. It is worth reviewing this and any other materials you can find on divorce prior to filing. The more informed you are about the process and your rights, the better you will be able to look after your interests. In addition, if filing for divorce on your own, you are representing yourself in your divorce case. The Iowa Judicial Branch website has a page that offers tips on how to represent yourself, information that can also be useful as you move forward.

When pursuing a divorce on your own, there are several different options to consider and you’ll be faced with a large number required of forms and legal guidelines. To navigate through this process many people choose to get their Iowa online divorce documents from an online divorce paper preparation service like CompleteCase.com. With CompleteCase.com you’ll get the help you need to choose the correct forms for your specific circumstances, and assistance to complete those forms. Our experts will provide you peace of mind by ensuring that you are doing everything right the first time – and avoiding any unnecessary delays or additional costs in your divorce.

How to File Divorce Papers in Iowa

When you have completed your Iowa divorce papers online or otherwise, you will want to make at least two copies – one for your records and one to serve to your spouse. It is always recommended to call ahead to your local county clerk and verify that you are bringing all the necessary documents to the court. You should also ask about the state filing fee and accepted forms of payment. When you hand your forms over and pay your fee, the clerk will stamp all of your documents and file the originals with the court. Make sure to ask the clerk about the “Report of Dissolution of Marriage or Annulment” form. The clerk will have you fill out most of it, and will complete the rest before filing.

How to Serve Divorce Papers in Iowa

When you have filed your Iowa divorce papers documents with the court, you will need to serve your spouse a copy of the documents immediately afterward. It is important to start the serving process as quickly as you can, as it can sometimes take a while to complete. The court will not move forward with the divorce until it has received proof that your spouse was served. You have 90 days to serve the papers, after which the court will dismiss the case and you will have to start all over.

Iowa allows you to serve your spouse in several ways. The easiest – if you and your spouse are on good terms – is to deliver the divorce papers in person or mail them. Your spouse will need to complete the “Acceptance of Service” document, which you will then need to file with the court.

If you do not have the option of serving your spouse directly, or if you expect him or her to be non-cooperative, you can hire someone to serve the papers. Iowa allows you to hire a sheriff's deputy or a private process server to get the job done. A sheriff's deputy is often less expensive, but will usually only attempts to serve the papers once. If you think it may take a few attempts, the private process server may be a better value, as he or she will usually try repeatedly to serve the documents.

When the court has proof of service, it will begin to move forward with the divorce. If you and your spouse are in agreement on everything, the divorce should not take that long to finalize. If you will need to argue your case to the court, the divorce may take quite a bit longer.

Do you qualify for an online divorce?

Do you know the location of your spouse?
Is your spouse in agreement regarding this divorce and willing to sign the divorce papers with you?
Do you and your spouse have any children under the age of 18 from this marriage?