General Iowa Divorce Information
Nothing on this website is intended as legal advice. We do not provide legal advice and will not answer questions.
We recommend that you contact a family law attorney who is using Iowa Support Master software. Use our free Iowa Child Support Calculator. The results will list for you the names of lawyers in your area who accept dissolution cases and use Iowa Support Master. If you are of limited financial means, call on an unbundled legal services lawyer: Click Here.
Helpful LinksChildren in the Middle If you have children, you must attend a "Children in the Middle" class. With Covid-19 going around, you can take the class online. CLICK HERE for more infomation. This course is offered by Iowa Attorney Lora L. McCollom.
Summary of Iowa Divorce Law
- Iowa is a "no-fault" state. No proof as to why your marraige failed is required.
- Iowa Code Chapter 598 provides the laws governing divorce in Iowa.
- Divorce filing fee is $265. This fee may be waived or delayed to the end of the case in the event you are without funds to pay it. You may be required to provide financial information in order to have the fees waived.
- The fee for an annulment, separate maintenance, contested modification or stipulated modification is $110.
- If your spouse will not accept service, you may spend $50 or more having the papers served on your spouse.
- If your spouse is not a resident of Iowa, the party filing the petition must have been a resident of Iowa for the past year.
- There is a 90 day waiting period from the day of service upon your spouse to the date a decree may be entered. This "waiting period" may be waived under certain circumstances.
- You may be required to participate in mediation.
- If either party requests conciliation counseling, the court will order it unless there are allegations of abuse.
Custody OptionsSole Custody This is when one parent is awarded custody of the child and that parent has the full and complete power to make all decisions concerning the child. This typically happens when the other parent is in prison; addicted to narcotics; or the other parent is absent and has no contact with the child.
Joint Custody This is when the legal custody of the child is granted to both parents jointly with primary care awarded to one parent. Neither parent has legal custodial rights superior to those of the other parent. An award of joint custody does not necessarily mean that the child must spend equal time with or live with both parents. It's perhaps the typical case where one parent has the kids and the other parents gets visitations every other weekend, holidays and several weeks in the summer.
Joint Physical Care aka Shared Care This is when the legal custody of the child is given to both parents as joint legal custodians. This means the parties share the parenting time. Neither parent has physical care rights superior to the other parent.
Child SupportIf you have children, child support will be ordered. Iowa law requires the court to order child support. You may use our free Iowa Child Support Calculator to give you an idea of what the support might be in your situation. Every case is different. Just because Mary up-the-street gets $800 per month for her little Johnny does not mean you are going to get $1,600 per month for your two kids. Only a trained, Iowa lawyer using Iowa Support Master can give you an accurate and reliable child support result.
If you insist on representing yourself, contact an "Unbundled Services Lawyers" to help you with the calculation of child support. You will be glad you did. Cost should be $200 - $300. CLICK HERE for Unbundled Services Lawyers
Click Here to obtain a free estimate of your Iowa child support obligation.
How is child support calculated in Iowa?There are many factors that go into calculating child support. Income of the parties; how many children are involved; do either of the parties have other children they are supporting; health insurance; union dues, etc. Iowa adopted Guidelines on how child support must be calculated in Iowa cases.
Because of the complexity of calculating child support in Iowa, you would best be served by seeking professional assistance. If you have the money to hire a lawyer, you would be wise to do so. If you are of limited funds, call on an "Unbundled Services" lawyer for assistance. You may pay a fee, $150 or so, to have the lawyer help you prepare the forms you need. A list of unbundled services lawyers is provided here: Click Here.
The lawyers using our Iowa Support Master software can provide you with an estimate of what child support might be in your case but to arrive at an accurate and reliable number, they will need detailed information from you. You can assist them, and you can get an idea of what information is needed by using our Information Gathering Form. Click this link to view/print an information gathering form - > Information Gathering Form.
You may use our Free Iowa Child Support Estimator program if you wish to attempt a calculation. The results provided by this free Iowa Child Support Calculation and Estimator program are not admissible in court. They are provided to give you an idea; an estimate of what the support may be in your situation. The results are based on the information you provide. If you do not furnish reliable information, the results will not be accurate.
Spousal Support - AlimonyLike child support, there are many factors that go into how spousal support is determined in Iowa. Spousal support is a court-ordered provision for support based on financial need. It can be temporary, short-term, or permanent.
- Duration of the marriage.
- Standard of living during the marriage.
- Any agreements the parties had (whether prenuptial or during the marriage) that promised one spouse would compensate the other for contributions to a career.
- Financial resources of both parties (determined after the division of assets).
- Training or education the receiving spouse would need to sustain employment..
- Earning capacity of the spouse seeking support, including the length of absence from the job market, skills, education, and experience.
- Whether the receiving spouse is responsible for children of the marriage.
- Relevant tax consequences.
- The age, physical, and mental health of both spouses.
Common Law MarriageCommon Law Marriage may exist even if the parties did not have a wedding with a marriage license. Consider some of these factors:
- The couple told people they are married (and they are not married to anyone else).
- They live together as man and wife
- They share a last name
- They have joint bank accounts
- Family and friends thought they were married
Short on cash?There are options.
Ask the attorney if she/he will accept payments.
Use a credit card to set up automatic payments each month, this can be done via Paypal.com.
Older experienced attorneys usually charge more for their services. Younger lawyers, newly licensed, may not charge as much. Call around and ask.
Consider seeking out a lawyer who provides unbundled legal services. There are lawyers in Iowa who are willing to provide you with limited representation/legal services. If you need a Form 1, call one of the lawyers who you may pay a fee for help. A Form 1 is complicated. It is required to be filed if your case involves children. If you insist on representing yourself, pay a lawyer a small fee and that lawyer will help you put a Form 1 together that will be accepted by the court. To find an lawyer in your area who performs limited services, Click Here.
Unbundled Legal Services Lawyers - $150 for a Form 1 Click Here.
Free Legal Advice - Click Here (there are qualifying conditions).
Iowa Legal Aid - Click Here.
Muscatine Legal Services - Click Here Services in the immediate area of Muscatine.
Polk County Bar Association Volunteer Lawyers Project - Click Here. Polk County residents.
Story County Legal Aid - Click Here. Story County area residents.
Drake Law School Legal Clinic - Click Here.
University of Iowa Law School Legal Clinic - Click Here.
Common QuestionsWhat kind of information would I need to know to get a calculation of child support? Use our information gathering form as a start. Click Here. Complete this form as accurately as possible. It serves no purpose to provide false or misleading information and may lead to your being punished. Take this to an attorney to help them get started.
My spouse says he can get this done without both of us hiring lawyers, is that a problem? It is possible for one party to be represented by a lawyer and the other not. This may not be wise if you are the one without the assistance of an attorney. Call around, ask about a free consultation. Take the paperwork to a lawyer and so what if it costs you $150 for advice, it will be money well invested because you may find out things aren't fair for you.
May we use your software to prepare a Form 1? In the future, we will be offering an online program to produce a Form 1 for a small fee. However, we highly recommend that you use an attorney. We charge for this service and we will not answer your questions, provide advice or assistance. Click Here to go to the order page for more information. Please hire a lawyer.
May we just agree on a child support amount? Yes, but only if the amount is calculated pursuant to the Child Support Guidelines. The judge in your case will require that you submit a complete Form 1. If your number is not calculated according to the rules, the judge will not approve it. Don't lie or mislead the court or you may find yourself in the cross-bars motel.
Why hire a lawyer? Because sooner or later, you will not be happy with the decree. As a general rule, once the decree is entered, the case is over. You cannot go back and fix things once it is done. More importantly, if you have children, it is critical that you resolve custody, visitation and child support by relying on expert legal advice. Failing to do so will lead to regrets and litigation. No, you don't need to pay now ... but you will pay later.
How should I prepare for my divorce? Get your information together. Click Here for our handy, dissolution information gathering form. Be honest in your responses. Take it to the lawyer of your choosing. He/She will love you for this.
What does a divorce cost? Most lawyers will provide you with a free, initial consultation. Lawyers typically charge by the hour. The more calls you make to them, the higher your bill will go. If you don't like the one you visit or you feel you cannot afford that lawyer, call someone else. Most lawyers accept credit cards or they may agree to a payment plan. Ask what they will charge you. When you go see a lawyer, prepare a list of questions like:
1. How much do you charge per hour?
2. Will you be the lawyer who will handle my case or will you pass it off to someone else in the firm?
3. When I have questions, am I allowed to call you and will you return my calls?
4. Do you have a fee contract I can look over?
May I use Iowa Support Master to calculate child support? We do not sell nor provide Iowa Support Master to non-attorney litigants. You may use our free support estimator but it will not produce the forms you need for court. No court will accept the results provided by this program. Click Here for the free support estimator program. Click Here to order a limited use version of Iowa Support Master.
Will the judge help me do this? No. Judges are bound by ethical rules of conduct and are not allowed to give advice. Judges decide cases based on the information provided by the parties. They cannot help you prepare the paperwork you will need to obtain a divorce.
Can't I just buy one of those Do It Yourself Divorce Kits? Yes but it's a bad idea. Make some calls. Find a lawyer who will provide you with a free consultation. There are many who are eager to help. Call the lawyer and ask what they would charge you for a consultation. You will be asked a few questions such as whether you have children and real estate. So what if it costs $100 or even $200. Spending an hour with a lawyer going over your case will be well worth it.