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Helping Iowans Navigate the Divorce Process

Divorce is an emotional and difficult experience for many people. At Higgins Law Firm PLLC, our Des Moines divorce attorneys are dedicated to helping Iowans navigate this process while protecting their rights and working to achieve the most favorable outcome possible. We understand the complexities of Iowa divorce law, so you can be sure that your case will be handled with the utmost skill and care.

At Higgins Law Firm PLLC, we are dedicated to providing our clients with personalized attention and guidance throughout the entire divorce process. We have extensive experience handling every aspect of Iowa divorce cases including uncontested divorce cases, contested divorce cases, complex divorce cases, child custody cases, alimony arrangements, and more. Our team takes a compassionate and strategic approach to every case, so you can be sure that your interests are protected.

If you are considering getting a divorce in Iowa, contact us for a free consultation today.

Requirements for a Divorce in Iowa

In Iowa, divorce is referred to as a “dissolution of marriage” and there are certain requirements that must be met before a divorce decree can be finalized.


In order to file for a divorce in Iowa, one of the parties involved must have been an inhabitant of the state for at least one year prior to the filing. This means that both spouses don’t need to be residents of Iowa in order to get a divorce there; instead, only one party needs to meet this requirement.

Waiting Period

In Iowa, there is a 90-day waiting period from the date of filing before a divorce can be finalized. This allows both parties to further consider their decision and attempt to negotiate any potential agreements. All issues regarding child support, child custody, alimony payments, and division of assets must be resolved before the divorce decree can be finalized.

Grounds for Divorce

In Iowa, divorces are strictly based on a no-fault system. This means that neither party is held responsible for the breakdown of the marriage, and instead, both parties must simply declare that their marriage has irretrievably broken down in order to qualify for a divorce. It is not necessary to prove any wrongdoing or fault on either party, and the court will not take any of these matters into consideration when making its decisions.

Iowa Divorce Process

The legal process for getting a divorce in Iowa typically involves the filing of a petition for dissolution, followed by a series of hearings and court appearances. Below you’ll find an outline of the process.

  1. File a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage – this is the official document that must be filed with the Iowa court system in order to begin the divorce process.
  2. Serve Spouse with Divorce Papers – after filing the petition, it must be served to the other spouse before any further action can take place. This is typically done by having a third-party deliver the documents to the other party.
  3. Negotiate Terms – after the petition has been served, both parties can negotiate any potential agreements regarding matters such as child custody, support payments, alimony payments, and division of assets.
  4. Attend Mediation (if necessary) –  before granting a divorce, the court may require both parties to participate in alternative dispute resolution with a certified mediator.
  5. Attend Trial (if necessary) – if an agreement cannot be reached, the parties can attend a trial where a judge will make decisions on all unresolved matters.
  6. File Final Decree of Dissolution – once all issues have been resolved and the court has granted the divorce, both parties must sign the final decree of dissolution, which officially terminates the marriage.
  7. Receive Certificate of Divorce – once the decree has been signed, a certificate of divorce will be issued to both parties, officially ending the marriage.

Additional Family Law Matters to Consider

Child Custody

In Iowa, child custody is determined by the court based on what it believes to be in the best interests of the child. This means that the court will take into consideration a variety of factors such as the stability of each parent’s home environment, their relationship with the child, any past instances of abuse or neglect, and other relevant matters. The court will also consider the wishes of both parties and the child, if they are old enough to express an opinion.

Child Support

In Iowa, the court will often order one parent to make payments to the other for the benefit of a child or children. The amount owed will be based on factors such as each parent’s income and assets, as well as their ability to provide for the child. The payments will typically be made on a monthly basis, and it is important for both parties to understand their obligations and fulfill them in order to avoid any potential legal repercussions.


In Iowa, the court may require one spouse to pay the other a certain amount of money as financial support following a divorce. The amount and duration of payments will depend on factors such as each party’s income, assets, and expenses, as well as their need for additional support. It is important to note that alimony payments are not always permanent, and may be modified or terminated in certain circumstances.

Property Division

In Iowa, all marital property will be divided fairly and equitably between both spouses during the divorce process. The court will consider factors such as each party’s current financial situation, contributions to the marriage, and any other relevant matters when making its decision. It is important to note that certain items may be deemed to be separate property and not subject to division, such as property that was owned prior to the marriage or acquired through inheritance.

How Family Law Attorneys Can Help

Family law attorneys can provide invaluable assistance in navigating the divorce process. An experienced attorney understands the details of Iowa’s divorce laws and can help clients make informed decisions about their rights, obligations, and options. A family law attorney can also help to ensure that all paperwork is properly filed and any necessary hearings are attended on time. Furthermore, a lawyer can provide valuable advice regarding child custody, child support, alimony, and property division. Having an experienced professional on your side can help to make the divorce process as smooth and stress-free as possible.

Get Help from Experienced Des Moines Divorce Lawyers

Navigating the divorce process can be complicated. At Higgins Law Firm PLLC, our Des Moines divorce lawyers are experienced and knowledgeable about all aspects of family law in Iowa and will work diligently to help protect your rights and achieve a fair outcome for your case. Contact us today for a free consultation.