Iowa Divorce Laws

Iowa divorce residency requirements

In order to meet the Iowa divorce residency requirements the spouse filing for divorce must have resided in Iowa for a period of no less than one year. The divorce may be filed for in the county in which the filing spouse resides.

Grounds for applying for divorce in Iowa

When applying for dissolution of marriage in Iowa certain grounds must be met. The court of Iowa may grant a divorce if the following is met:

  • A total breakdown of the marriage and there is no possible hope of reconciliation. Iowa Code – Sections 598.5 and 598.17

To apply for dissolution of marriage under this condition the spouse must be able to supply evidence or testimony; otherwise, the case for divorce may be dismissed by the courts.

Property division factors when applying for divorce in Iowa

The courts prefer that any property division is made by the spouses themselves under the marital settlement agreement. However, there may be cases where this is not possible and in the event of this occurring, it is down to the courts to decide property division under the decree of dissolution of marriage. As Iowa is an equitable distribution state, this means they will divide any property based on what they deem to be fair. In order to be able to do this the following will first be determined:

  1. What property is actually deemed to be marital
  2. The value of this property
  3. Once the value of any marital property is worked out the court will share this equitably

When dividing property equitably the court will consider the following:

  • The property that each spouse brought into the marriage
  • The length of the marriage prior to request for termination
  • The contribution of the marriage by each of the spouses
  • The age, physical health and the emotional stability of the spouses
  • The desirability of the spouse awarded custody to reside in the home
  • Economic circumstances such as pensions
  • The consequences of taxes on the spouses
  • Any agreement that was pre-written by the spouses
  • Any other factors which the court deems to be relevant to property division Iowa Code – Sections 598.21

Custody factors when divorcing

When considering custody factors in Iowa the courts may consider the following:

  1. The suitability of each of the spouses as parents
  2. Whether the child will suffer from a lack of active contact from both parents
  3. How well parents are able to communicate with each other when it comes to the needs of children
  4. Whether since the separation both of the parents have played an active role in the child’s life
  5. Whether the custody award would be in the best interests of the child
  6. Whether one or both of the parents are willing to consider joint custody
  7. Where the spouses reside in proximity to one another
  8. Whether the safety of the child will be put into jeopardy
  9. Whether there is a history of abuse in the family. Iowa Code – Sections 598.21

Child support factors

Either or the parents of both of the parents may be ordered by the courts to pay towards child support. When making the decision the court will consider the following:

  1. The income of each spouse
  2. Relevant factors such as the amount of taxes paid and any contributions for retirement


The amount of child support which is awarded with the use of guideline charts will be presumed to be correct by the courts but factors such as fairness and any special needs that the child may have will be taken into account by the courts.