Divorce and Family Law in Harlan, Iowa

If you are considering divorce, have been served with divorce papers, or are in the process of modifying family support or custody arrangements, it is critical to engage an attorney to advise you of your rights. Our firm represents parties throughout and after a divorce case, dealing with issues of child custody and visitation rights, spousal and child support, property division, and restraining orders.

Frequently Asked Questions about Iowa Divorce

What are the Grounds for Dissolution of Marriage?

All Iowa divorces are “no-fault.” This means that the only grounds for dissolution of marriage are that there has been a breakdown of the marriage relationship, the objects of marriage have been destroyed, and there remains no reasonable likelihood that the marriage can be preserved.

Are there simplified divorce procedures?

While there are no formal avenues offering a simplified or quick dissolution of marriage, parties can engage in an uncontested divorce, which can save time and money. An uncontested divorce means the parties are in agreement on major issues such as child custody, visitation, child support, and possession of the home and other property.

Can one attorney represent both parties to a divorce?

Iowa law prohibits an attorney from representing both spouses in divorce. However, in some uncontested divorces, only one party hires an attorney, and the other party is not represented by an attorney.

How long does divorce take?

The timeline for handling a divorce depends on the complexity of the case. In an uncontested divorce, the matters can be completed in three or fewer months. A contested or complex divorce may take six months or more than a year.

How does the court determine child custody and visitation rights?

A court determines joint or sole custody based on the best interests of the child, often encouraging the parents to share the rights and responsibilities of raising the child. Historically, Iowa courts awarded joint legal custody with primary physical care to the mother and visitation to the father. Courts are more frequently awarding joint physical care, where possible. In determining whether joint physical care is possible, courts will consider the situation’s effect on children, the abilities of the spouses to communicate and work together, and the agreement or conflict between the parties regarding parenting issues.

How is child support decided?

Both parents can be ordered to pay child support. Iowa follows child support guidelines, with a calculator providing estimated payments. The amount figured through the child support guidelines can be adjusted for fairness or special needs of the child.

How will property be divided?

A court will generally divide all of the spouses’ property, except any received gifts and inheritances. Marital fault is not a factor in the process of division, as Iowa is an “equitable distribution” state. This means that, in dividing property, a court will consider a wide range of factors, including the length of the marriage; the assets, income, skills, and employment of each party; the contributions of each party to the marriage; the other benefits received through spousal or child support; and any other factor the court determines relevant.

How does a court determine alimony and spousal support?

The purpose of alimony or spousal support is to balance the interests and living standards of both parties, especially in the case of marriages with a high-earning spouse and a low-earning spouse. Like property division, the court will consider a wide variety of factors. Marital misconduct or fault is not a factor.