Process

In Iowa, every person who is attempting to get a divorce must disclose to the court their financial status.  This includes all the assets and liabilities of each party.  This includes disclosure of the values of all real estate, vehicles, life insurance policies, securities (stocks, bonds, etc), cash and bank accounts, household contents (furniture, appliances, etc.), any debts, loans, income sources, and any other personal expenses.  This also means discolisng the existence and value of all property and debt even if a party does not believe it should be part of the divisible martial estate.  An affidavit of financial status must be filed with the court comprehensively memorializing all of this information.  A party’s failure to disclose their financial status constitutes a failure to make discovery as required by Iowa law and may subject the non-disclosing party to sanctions from the court. 

Mediation is also often required of the parties to a divorce as well.  However this requirement can change depending on the county in which the divorce is filed.  In Polk County for example, any divorce or other custody action involving children shall be submitted to mediation prior to obtaining a trial date.  Mediation programs can be very beneficial to people who are divorcing.  It is a cooperative method of dispute resolution that is led by a neutral third-party mediator who aids the couple in reaching agreements on certain aspects of the divorce. This method of resolving disputes is an alternative to the more widely-known method of resolving disputes in court. Mediation may also help avoid unnecessary costs because it is generally much less expensive than resolving disputes in court.   A court may order mediation upon a request by either party or the court may order it on its own. Mediation will generally not be ordered, however, when there is evidence of domestic abuse. It is important to note that participation in mediation does not require the parties reach an agreement.  However if the parties reach an agreement to some or all of the issues in a mediation, it is generally enforceable by a court.

When children are involved in a divorce proceeding, the court will impose two additional requirements that the parties must complete prior to finalizing the divorce: 1) filing of the Child Support Guidelines Worksheet and 2) attendance in a “Children in the Middle” class.  Iowa law requires that all parties in a divorce file a child support guidelines worksheet prior to a support hearing or the establishment of a support order.  These worksheets include information on the parties’ incomes, taxes, number of children, and visitation schedule.  The court uses these worksheets to determine the amount of child support the parties must pay.  Most if not all attorneys practicing in divorce and family law have software by which these worksheets can be prepared based upon inputting pertinent financial information.

 Iowa law also requires attendance in a “children in the middle class.”  All parties to dissolution of marriage actions, as well as modification actions of a dissolution decree, that involve issues of child custody or visitation must participate in a court-approved course to educate and sensitize the parties to the needs of children in the middle of a divorce.  The course requires approximately four hours and the parties must complete it within forty-five days of the service of Original Notice (the document that officially starts the divorce proceeding “clock”). Each party must pay the cost of attending the course, which is approximately $30.00.  Each party must submit a certification of completion of the course to the Court prior to the granting of a final decree or the entry of a final order in the case.

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