Iowa Uncontested Divorce

This information is an overview of the uncontested Iowa divorce filing process and a summary of the divorce papers that are typically filed with the family law or domestic relations clerk. This overview is not intended to be an exact step-by-step guide for those "do it yourself divorce" filers, due to the fact that many cases are unique and the overview presented here is often not the only method of obtaining an uncontested divorce in Iowa.

To file for a divorce in Iowa, the defendant spouse must be a resident of the state and have been personally served the divorce papers. There is no residency requirement for the filing spouse. If this is not the case, there is a residency period of one year required. Moreover, there is a 90-day waiting period for the divorce to become final. The action may be filed in the county where either spouse resides.

The only grounds for divorce are No-Fault, which means a "[b]reakdown of the marriage relationship to the extent that the legitimate objects of matrimony have been destroyed and there remains no reasonable likelihood that the marriage can be preserved."

Actions are filed in the District Court of the county.

The filing spouse is called the Petitioner; the responding spouse is called the Respondent.

Legal separations are permitted under the same terms and conditions of divorce.

Iowa does not offer a summary or simplified divorce procedure.

To file for a divorce that does not involve minor children, the Plaintiff must file the following forms:

> A Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with No Minor Children, form FL-101, which identifies the parties, birth dates, addresses, and states that a) there are no children under 18 born or adopted in the marriage, no children over 18 still in need of support and c) that the wife is not pregnant and states that the marriage "is broken and cannot be saved’ and requests relief;

> A Coversheet for a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with No Minor Children, form FL-102, which identifies the action as a "Domestic Relations - Dissolution - no children (CD-DN)";

> A Confidential Information Form, FL-103, which is completed by both the Petitioner and the Respondent and provides the Social Security Numbers of each;

> Original Notice of Personal Service, form FL-104, which, with a copy of the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, gives the Respondent 20 days to file and Answer or Motion in response;

> An Acceptance of Service of Original Notice, form FL-105, which the Respondent may sign, attesting to the fact that he has received the Original Notice of Personal Service and the Petition and he or she accepts it;

> Directions for Service of Original Notice, form FL-106, which identifies the party giving service of process -- the delivery of the Original Notice and Petition to the Respondent.

If the Respondent cannot or will not accept service, resides outside the state, the Petitioner must also file the following forms:

> A Motion and Affidavit to Serve by Publication, form FL-107, which attests to the efforts made by the Petitioner to locate the missing spouse, and

> An Original Notice by Publication, form FL-108, which is published in the county where the action is filed once a week for three consecutive weeks.

If the Respondent fails to answer within 20 days of the last date of publication, the Petitioner may petition the court for a default decree 90 days later.

If the Petitioner cannot afford the costs of the filing, he or she may also file an Application and Affidavit to Defer Payment of Costs, form FL-109, which exempts him or her from filing fees.

After the Petitioner has filed the appropriate above forms, either he or she or the Respondent may file any of these forms depending upon the circumstances of the couple:

> A Motion, FL-122, which asks the court to take some action on the case, including a) changing any hearing date, b) awarding temporary support, c) ordering counseling (conciliation), d) setting a hearing date for a Divorce Decree by default, e) abbreviating the 90-day waiting period or f) making any other request;

> Response to a Motion, FL-123, which is used by the other party when he or she objects to a request in the other spouse’s FL-122;

> A Financial Affidavit, FL-124, which both Petitioner and Respondent must complete.

If the Respondent fails to complete a Financial Affidavit, FL-124, the Petitioner will be awarded a default decree and all that he or she asks for in the Petition.

> Affidavit of Mailing Notice, FL-125, which the Petitioner must file if the Respondent was served Notice by Publication and now asks the court for a Decree by default;

> Notice of Intent to File a Written Application for Default Decree, FL126, which the Petitioner must file if the Respondent has not answered and the Petitioner now seeks a final divorce decree;

> Request for Relief (Final Decree) in Dissolution of Marriage with No Minor Children, form FL-127, which is used when the Petitioner is getting a default divorce, or the spouses are heading to trial.

> Settlement Agreement for Dissolution of Marriage with No Children, form FL-128, which is used when the parties have reached agreement about the terms and conditions of division and distribution of assets and liabilities.