General Iowa Divorce InformationAlft & Wilson Publishing does not provide advice nor will we answer your questions. Nothing on this page should be considered as legal advice. This is general information for those who think they want to represent themselves in a dissolution matter.
We recommend that you consult with an attorney. Divorce law in Iowa is complicated and once the decree is entered, getting something changed is not easy.
If you think you cannot afford an attorney, there are other options. One opportunity for you is to seek 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.
What 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 for the form that will get you started. Take your time to complete this form as accurately as possible. You may take this to an attorney and that will help them get started.
Can we use your software to prepare a Form 1? You may use our online program to produce a Form 1 for a small fee. However, we highly recommend that you use an attorney. While we charge for this service, we do not provide advice or assistance. Click Here to prepare a Form 1.
Can we just agree on X number of dollars child support? Only if the amount is calculated pursuant to the Child Support Guidelines. If it is not, then the court must enter written findings of why the amount is not in conformance with the rules. This is called a "variance". It can be done but it is rare.
Why hire a lawyer? Because you need professional advice. Lawyers hire lawyers to represent them when they divorce. As a general rule, once the decree is entered, the case is over. You cannot later go back and fix things. 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 later regrets and litigation.
How should I prepare for my divorce? Get your information together. Click Here for our handy, dissolution information gathering form. Print and complete this. 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. 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 and can you give me an estimate of what this is going to cost?
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? You may use the free calculator (click here) on our home page, however, it is not the official program nor will it provide you with the forms you will need for court. You may calculate your support and produce a Form 1 for a fee but we advise you to contact an attorney. Click Here to prepare a Form 1.
Will the judge be able to help me through 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.... would you buy a house from some non-lawyer who drew up the papers and now wants a check and your signature? Don't be foolish. 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.
Custody OptionsSole Custody This is when one parent is awarded custody of the child and the full and complete power to make all decisions concerning the child. This is rare and 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. 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.
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 Support EstimateClick Here to obtain a free estimate of your Iowa child support obligation.
Iowa Divorce Basics
- Iowa Code Chapter 598 provides the laws governing divorce in Iowa.
- The filing fee is $185. This fee may be waived or delayed to the end of the case in the event you are indigent.
- 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 filing to the date a decree may be entered.
- You may be required to participate in mediation.
- If either party requests conciliation counseling, the court will order same with exceptions in the event there are allegations of abuse.