Iowa Law Overview


In Iowa, divorce is formally known as “dissolution of marriage,” a term that is legally synonymous with “divorce.” The statutes pertaining to dissolution of marriage are found in Chapter 598 of the Iowa Code. Iowa recognizes “no fault divorce,” which allows a marriage to be dissolved when there is evidence of a breakdown of the relationship with no likelihood it can be preserved. A spouse is not required to blame the other spouse for any particular misdeed or wrong. A judge may require parties to participate in conciliation efforts for a period of sixty days. Iowa law requires a ninety-day waiting period, from the date a petition is served, before the court may enter a final decree. Under certain circumstances the court may waive the waiting period.

Must an attorney represent me?

Although professional legal representation is not mandatory, it is often warranted because of the complex nature of the law and court procedures. Litigants who represent themselves may miss important issues or fail to anticipate the consequences of their lawsuits, such as the tax implications of a divorce. For these reasons, we strongly suggest that people who are contemplating divorce consult with an attorney.

What should I do if I’m served with divorce papers?

First, we suggest that you consult with an attorney. Persons against whom a civil lawsuit has been filed have the opportunity to file a response, known as an answer. Please note that there is a fixed period of time in which a person must file their answer: generally the deadline is twenty-calendar days from the date of service (the date the defendant receives a copy of the petition), but this could vary according to individual circumstances of the case.

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