What Do I Need to Know About Filing Divorce in Iowa with Help Yourself Divorce?

Help Yourself Divorce is a no-fault divorce service, for those who agree on the terms of the divorce and are both willing to sign the papers. The following is a list of requirements and information about what to expect from the process. Please note that this will only apply if you use the services of Help Yourself Divorce. Those seeking to use another route for their divorce should perform their own research about what to expect from the process.

Grounds for Divorce in Iowa.

Iowa is a “no-fault” divorce state. They do not have fault-based grounds, such as adultery, in their statutes. Divorces in Iowa are granted on the ground that “there has been a breakdown 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.”

Iowa Residency Laws.

You can file for divorce in Iowa if both spouses reside in the state of Iowa, or if only the petitioner resides in the state of Iowa but has resided there for at least one year, in good faith and not for the purpose of obtaining a dissolution of marriage only. Venue shall be in the county where either party resides.

If you and your spouse have minor children, the court must have jurisdiction over them. Generally this means your children must have lived in Iowa for at least six months and currently live in Iowa, or have lived in Iowa within six months of filing.

Please note that you may be able to qualify for residency based on other requirements. If you are not sure whether you fall into one of the above categories, please seek advice from an attorney.

Filing Your Divorce in Iowa.

Generally you will file your divorce in the Iowa county where either party resides.

Serving Your Spouse.

After you file the papers with the court, you will need to “serve” your spouse with a copy of the divorce papers. However, in uncontested divorces, it is not necessary to provide formal service using a Sheriff or process server. All you will need to do is hand-deliver, or mail by regular mail, a copy of the divorce papers to your spouse. Your spouse will sign a form stating that he or she has received the papers.

Iowa Divorce Filing Fees.

When you file the papers, you will have to pay a separate filing fee to the Courts. Please check with your local court clerk to find out how much the current filing fee is.

Waiting Period Before Divorce is Finalized in Iowa.

There is a 90 day waiting period after you serve your spouse with a copy of the divorce papers (see above), before your divorce can be finalized. How long it actually takes for the Court to finalize your divorce simply depends on the schedule of the Court.

Finalizing Your Divorce in Iowa.

In an uncontested divorce, a hearing is not required in the State of Iowa. A judge will typically review your paperwork and sign the final decree. It will then either be mailed back to you or be prepared for you to pick up at the courthouse.

Additional Information.

If you have minor children, you will be required to attend a court-approved course about the affects of divorce on children. In all judicial districts, there are courses such as “Children in the Middle” or “Children Cope with Divorce”. These classes are designed to “help minimize the negative impact of divorce on children and educate parents about the needs of children whose parents are divorcing.” Parents are required to attend within forty-five days of the service of original notice or application for modification of an order.


If you have any questions about whether our service is right for you, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

IMPORTANT: Help Yourself Divorce is a paralegal service, not a law firm. Please don’t rely on this information for legal advice. Seek help from an attorney if you need legal advice.


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