Iowa Divorce Recovery
- Child Custody
- Child Support
- DIY Divorce
- Waiting Period
In the best interest of the child, the court will order a Child Custody award which will include visitation rights, thereby assuring the child the opportunity for the maximum continuing physical and emotional contact with both parents after the parents have separated or dissolved the marriage. This ruling 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. You will be allowed to create a Child Custody Schedule or Parenting Plan with your spouse. If that effort fails, the court will impose its own version of a Parenting Plan.
Iowa divorce laws stipulate that should the court find a history of domestic abuse exists, a presumption against the awarding of joint custody will exist.
Don't use the kids as weapons to hurt your spouse
The court will consider the denial by one parent of the child's opportunity for maximum continuing contact with the other parent a significant factor in determining the proper custody arrangement. The court will attempt to determine whether this denial is based on valid concerns (in particular a pattern of abuse) and consider the validity of such denial in its final determination. False charges can have an adverse impact on the parent denying the contact. Should the court determine that a history of domestic abuse exists, and if a parent who is a victim of such domestic abuse relocates or is absent from the home based upon the fear of or actual acts or threats of domestic abuse perpetrated by the other parent, the court won't consider the relocation or absence of that parent as a factor against that parent in the awarding of custody or visitation.
Absent any finding to the contrary, both parents will have legal access to information concerning the child, including but not limited to medical, educational and law enforcement records.
Under Iowa divorce laws, the court will consider the following factors when ruling on child custody:
- Whether each parent would be a suitable custodian for the child.
- 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.
- Whether both parents have actively cared for the child before and since the separation.
- Whether each parent can support the other parent's 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 one or both of 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 a history of domestic abuse exists.
In Iowa law, joint physical care is presumed to be in the best interest of the child, but joint legal child custody does not require joint physical care. In cases where joint physical care is denied, parents are to respect the rights and responsibilities of joint legal custody.
Where a parent awarded legal custody or physical care of a child cannot act as custodian or caretaker because the parent has died or has been judicially adjudged incompetent, the court will award legal child custody including physical care of the child to the surviving parent unless the court finds that such an award is not in the child's best interest.
Download Iowa Divorce Forms
[Iowa Code - Section 598.41]
Marriage Annulment - Marital Annulment
A marriage annulment is a legal process of terminating an illegal marriage. Marriage or marital annulment laws vary from state to state. The annulment process in Iowa is similar to a separation or dissolution (divorce) in that you must file a petition, serve your spouse, and prove grounds. Getting an annulment granted usually means the burden of proving your case before the court, as opposed to divorce, which ordinarily doesn't go to trial. Annulment in Iowa requires a greater degree of proof than does a fault divorce. Arkansas grounds for an annulment include:
- Fraud - Marrying another by fraud or misrepresentation is a felony and is a legal ground for annulment according to Iowa annulment laws,
- Duress - a marriage where one was under duress is grounds for an annulment in Iowa,
- Bigamy - Iowa annulment laws specifically prohibit bigamy, and it is a legal annulment ground, and
- Consanguinity - one marrying another where they are too closely related is prohibited by Iowa annulment laws.
[Iowa Code - Sections 595.2, 598.29, 31]
State divorce laws mandate that both parents' incomes are used to set the Iowa child support amount. Stepparent income is not included. Each parent's net monthly income is found by taking deductions from the gross monthly income. These deductions can include: 1. Federal and state income tax, 2. required pension plans and 3. union dues and health insurance.
Iowa child support laws specify that the net monthly incomes of both parents, and the number of children, are used to set the child support payments. The child support payment amount set using the guidelines can only be changed by the court if it finds such a change is necessary to provide for the needs of the children or to be fair to the parents under special circumstances. The court will use any of the following in determining the amount of the net monthly income of a parent for purposes of establishing or modifying a support obligation:
- Income verified by an employer or payer of income,
- Income reported to the department of workforce development,
- For a public assistance recipient, income as reported to the department case worker assigned to the public assistance case.
Imputing income and imposing temporary child support amounts
When the income information does not include the information necessary to determine the net monthly income of the parent, the unit may deduct twenty percent from the parent's gross monthly income to arrive at the net monthly income figure. The court may order either party to pay the clerk a temporary amount for the separate support and maintenance of the other party and the children and to enable that party to prosecute or defend the action (pendente lite they call it). Iowa Child Support Recovery - A site provided by the state that helps parents with child support recovery.
The child support obligation ends once the child reaches age 18 or graduates from high school, whichever comes second, or to 19 or graduation (by court order) if the child is still in school.
[Iowa Code - Section 598.21]
You can be granted a divorce in Iowa if both spouses agree that 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".
For a divorce petition to be accepted, both spouses must be residents of this state, or the petitioning spouse must have resided in this state for at least a year.
The process begins with one spouse (the Petitioner) files a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with the Clerk of Courts Office within the District Court of their county of residence. The Petitioner must then serve (notify) the other spouse (the Respondent). If the parties are in agreement, the Petitioner may mail or hand deliver the Petition for Divorce for Dissolution of Marriage to the other spouse. A contested divorce requires that the Petitioner have a third party (process server) deliver the forms to the Respondent.
|Worried about the prospect of custody battles in your future? Want to know how to win a child custody battle? Don't be blind sided by your ex. Learn the facts by owning a complete Child Custody Library on the best strategies for winning or keeping child custody.|
Your soon-to-be-ex receives the paperwork
The Respondent must then agree or disagree to the details in the Petitioner's complaint. The response by the Respondent, called the Answer, together with Acceptance of Service, must be filed with the court within a specified time frame set by the county the petition was filed in. If the Respondent fails to respond to the Petition, a default judgment can be entered by the court granting the requests of the Petitioner in his or her complaint. Contesting the contents of the petition will lead to a settlement or a trial. Counties in Iowa may require additional forms if it is a contested divorce (check with the clerk of courts by phone), or couples mediation.
If you are both in agreement, you will then complete a Divorce Settlement Agreement, which will detail agreement about the division of assets, debt and property, alimony and the terms for co-parenting your children in separate households. The Divorce Settlement Agreement gets filed with the court. A hearing gets scheduled from that point, and presuming all filings are in order, the court may grant a divorce.
If your spouse won't file a settlement agreement with you, you can file your own, including a Parenting Plan, and use that as the summary for your positions.
If the divorce is contested you both will prepare for trial. This is the discovery period, where you must exchange with the other spouse all details about your respective finances. Courts can and do impose counseling or mediation. During this time you will be given an opportunity to settle your differences. If unable to do that, a trial takes place, and the judge determines the outcome of disputes e.g. divides marital assets, debt and property. If you cannot agree on a Parenting Plan, the court will decide the issues of custody, support and visitation.
A note on the Parenting Plan
Don't cut any corners on putting together a Parenting Plan. It will be the document you have to live with until your kids are no longer minors. There are plenty of simple parenting plan templates on the internet, but they don't cover all the details that you want to consider. You want a parenting plan that gives you options you may not have thought of. We suggest you start with parenting plan worksheets, offered free at About.com. When they are completed you have to decide between keeping the plan on paper, or on-line.
Whichever way you decide to keep records (on-line or paper copies), the process will require that you make frequent changes to the plan schedule as activities change for you, the ex and the children. A paper plan can be updated but requires it be printed out each time and mailed to the ex. You'll need to back it up each time in case your computer crashes. Your ex may 'lose' his or her copy *cough cough*, messing up plans. Changes to the schedule can magically occur after imagined conversations with paper copies. And I won't even go there about ink costs.
Have the ex mess up one important event due to "confusion" and you'll wish you had it all on-line.
An on-line Parenting Plan can be quickly updated, printed out at a moments notice, is held on the provider's server, can track time spent with each parent, can track expenses incurred, and can be viewed by both parents at any time from any computer. The on-line version can be printed and included in your filing with the court in your divorce, or at any time in the future, should there be a request for modification of child support, custody or visitation.
One Mom told us that she and her Ex agreed that unless a change or addition to the kids schedule has been discussed AND agreed upon, it won’t appear on the calendar, and if it doesn’t appear on the calendar, it ain’t happening.
See our discussion on Do-It-Yourself Divorce
Legal Separation - Marital Separation
A legal separation results when a couple separates and a court rules on the child support, custody, alimony, visitation and division of property, but doesn't grant a divorce. With a legal separation (sometimes called a marital separation), any assets accumulated or debts incurred after a finalized legal separation are no longer considered jointly owned. A specific legal process is necessary for a legal separation to be granted. A Settlement Agreement must be submitted to a court, addressing all support, Child Custody, Visitation and asset issues between the couple. A legal separation is a court order that details who gets the children, who pays support for the children and how much, whether spousal support (alimony) is ordered, and how marital property and debt is divided.
Separation allows one to keep intact health benefits or life insurance from one spouse to another
You might want a legal separation if your religious beliefs prohibit divorce, if you or your spouse have not lived in Iowa long enough to file for divorce, or if one of you needs to be covered by the other's medical insurance. A legal separation costs about the same as a divorce. Filing for legal separation does not prevent a divorce from being filed, however. The main difference between dissolution of marriage and legal separation proceedings is that a dissolution ends the relationship (marriage), while a judgment of separation effectively ends the marriage in terms of assets and debt while sometimes keeping in place some features of a marriage like health insurance coverage and tax filings.
|Worried about a custody battle? Don't be blind sided by your ex. Learn the facts by owning a complete Child Custody Library on the best strategies for winning or keeping child custody.|
Divorce settlement and division of marital assets.
You will be afforded the opportunity to fashion a divorce settlement with your divorcing spouse, which would divide marital assets and liabilities (debt). If you cannot reach a divorce settlement, one will be imposed upon you by the court. All marital property will be distributed one-half to each party unless the court finds such a division to be inequitable. In that event the court will make some other division that the court deems equitable taking into consideration:
- Age, health, and station in life of the parties,
- The length of the marriage,
- Occupation of the parties,
- Amount and sources of income,
- Vocational skills,
- Employability; Estate, liabilities, and needs of each party and opportunity of each for further acquisition of capital assets and income,
- Contribution of each party in acquisition, preservation, or appreciation of marital property, including services as a homemaker; and
- The federal income tax consequences of the court's division of property.
Be mindful of tax consequences when dividing assets
Should the court not divide the marital property equally between the parties, the basis and reasons will be recited in the order entered. Non-marital assets will be returned to who owned it prior to the marriage. When stocks, bonds, or other securities issued by a corporation, association, or government entity make up part of the marital property, the court will designate in its final order or judgment the specific property in securities to which each party is entitled. The court is not required to address the division of property at the time a divorce decree is entered if either party is involved in a bankruptcy proceeding.
Lock up the assets
If you think your spouse might try to hide assets, or spend them, we suggest you file a petition for a financial temporary restraining order. This order prevents liquidating assets or spending money beyond the basic necessities of daily living. You might first consider allocating enough funds to see yourself through, because the restraining order will apply to you too.
[Iowa Code - Sections 598.21]
Alimony - Spousal Support - Maintenance
In Iowa, alimony is referred to as maintenance, and is often limited to three years as it is designed to be a temporary measure. This approach is not the norm across the states. Alimony (or spousal support) can be awarded if two scenarios are identified: a spouse who has been married for a minimum of ten years and cannot support themselves may qualify for alimony/maintenance. The second situation would include family violence in which a spouse is convicted during the filing.
Alimony ends when one of the three events below takes place
Prior to the final decree of divorce, the court will make orders concerning the alimony of the wife or the husband and the care of the children, if there are any. Alimony will automatically cease in Iowa if any of the following occur:
- The date of the remarriage of the person who was awarded the alimony,
- The establishment of a relationship that produces a child or children and results in a court order directing another person to pay support to the recipient of alimony, which circumstances would be considered the equivalent of remarriage,
- The establishment of a relationship that produces a child or children and results in a court order directing the recipient of alimony to provide support of another person who is not a descendant by birth or adoption of the payer of the alimony, which circumstances shall be considered the equivalent of remarriage.
|Concerned about custody and visitation issues in the future? Will your spouse try to take advantage of you? Get an online parenting plan and set up the calendar before you get divorced, and adjust it to the court ordered visitation schedule. If your ex knows it's online and you are documenting things, it's less likely you'll be constantly challenged. Click on the demo link to view the program.|
Iowa uses the family or spousal support chart provided by legislation. State law mandates that the chart is to be revised every (4) years. Child support typically terminates at the child's 18th birthday, but can be extended if the child's age of majority occurs before high school graduation. Should a child have a disability, child support can be extended past age 18.
The courts have the discretion to award alimony in fixed payments for a specified period, subject to death or remarriage of the recipient. All orders requiring payments of money for the support and care of any children will direct the payments to be made through the registry of the court unless the court in its discretion determines that it would be in the best interest of the parties to direct otherwise.
|Worried about a custody battle? Don't be blind sided by your ex. Learn the facts by owning a complete Child Custody Library on the best strategies for winning or keeping child custody.|
[Iowa Code - Sections 598.21, 598.22 and 598.32]
Child's visitation with each parent
During the separation or divorce process, the parents are afforded the opportunity to complete a Child Visitation Schedule, or a Parenting Plan, and submit them to the court for approval. If they are unable to fully agree, the court will impose its own judgment and plan on the care for the children. Typically that will involve every other weekend, (or 2nd and 4th weekends- 1st and 3rd), often a weekday evening visit that doesn't include overnight, alternating holidays, Mother's and Father's Days, and a number of weeks in the summer. Make sure you include specific details about who picks up and drops off, at what time, the right of first refusal if the custodian needs a sitter, etc. Be sure to determine the terms of birthdays visits, how they'll be celebrated and who is able to do what. The more you have in the decree, the less you'll argue over.
One way to put together a Parenting Plan and not forget any important details is to use Parenting Plan software.
Worried about custody? Be a Know-It-All in custody battles
Be aware that you have to guide your side of the divorce. Don't assume that your attorney will think of everything. You being in touch with the divorce laws in Iowa will give you an advantage (oversight). You set the course; your lawyer navigates. If you anticipate any problems with custody or visitation, we suggest you own Child Custody Strategies.
Grounds for divorce
If you are seeking to dissolve a covenant marriage, you are required to state that request in your petition. The circuit court can grant a separation or divorce for the following causes (grounds for divorce):
- Either party, at the time of the contract, was and still is impotent,
- Conviction of a felony or other infamous crime,
- Demonstrated an addiction to habitual drunkenness for one (1) year, shall be guilty of such cruel and barbarous treatment as to endanger the life of the other, or shall offer such indignities to the person of the other as shall render his or her condition intolerable,
- Commit adultery after the marriage occurs,
- The court will grant a divorce if the parties have lived separately for 18 continuous months, regardless of fault or cause by either spouse (this is what many refer to as no-fault),
- Should one of the parties be deemed insane, the other spouse will be required to care for and financially maintain that person for the duration of the insane person's life and,
- Should the service of process be considered on the insane spouse, the petitioner is required to make service to a recognized guardian, guardian ad litem, or institution charged with that person's care.
[Iowa Code - Sections 598.5 and 598.17]
Residency - You must be a legal resident to file
One spouse must have resided in Iowa for at least six months immediately preceding a filing. On the condition that the residency requirement has been met by one spouse, either the resident or non-resident may file in Arkansas. Note that this is not the norm for all states. Most jurisdictions require residency to file in that jurisdiction.
[Iowa Code - Sections 598.2, 598.6 and 598.19]
Mediation - Using a Mediator to resolve differences
Mediation can be an effective tool to solve differences that parties would like to be settled without a court battle, although it is not mandatory. Iowa divorce law does not order the parties to marriage counseling, although marriage counseling can be very constructive for some couples.
When the parties to a divorce action have minor children residing with one (1) or both parents, the court, prior to or after entering a decree of divorce, may require the parties to:
- Complete at least two (2) hours of classes concerning parenting issues faced by divorced parents; or
- Submit to mediation in regard to addressing parenting, custody, and visitation issues.
[Iowa Code - Sections 598.16 and 598.19]
A grandparent or great-grandparent may petition a circuit court of this state for reasonable visitation rights with respect to his or her grandchild or grandchildren or great-grandchild or great-grandchildren under this section if:
- The marital relationship between the parents of the child has been severed by death, divorce, or legal separation;
- The child is illegitimate and the petitioner is a maternal grandparent of the illegitimate child; or
- The child is illegitimate, the petitioner is a paternal grandparent of the illegitimate child, and paternity has been established by a court of competent jurisdiction.
A Word On Your Journey Toward Healing And Recovery ...
At some point in the process, you will likely discover that you will not be able to manage the divorce recovery all by yourself. If you are a man, you are apt to bury the hurt and anguish and force yourself to Move On. However, unresolved feelings are just that- unresolved, and are likely to become issues later on. If you are a woman, you will feel the process more, and likely will experience a feeling of loss while feeling lost. We recommend you spend time discovering why things worked out as they did, so that you grow with the new knowledge. We offer a myriad of tools that can get you to the other side. The more you learn, the less you fear. Trust us on this. Spend some time and a few bucks and the return will be ten-fold.