QUESTION: What should I do if I am thinking about filing for divorce?
ANSWER: We would strongly encourage you to set-up an initial appointment with one of our attorneys. At this initial meeting, we will review your family's unique situation. We will cover such issues as child custody, visitation, marital counseling, property division, spousal support, court costs and legal fees. The initial consultation is free.
If you are thinking about filing for divorce, or if you have just been served with a divorce papers, it is important to consult with a qualified attorney to discuss your available legal courses of action. If you have been served with divorce papers, you will have 20 days from the date of service in which to file your Answer, so you should consult with an attorney right away.
QUESTION: After meeting with an attorney, what steps need to be taken to complete a divorce in Iowa?
ANSWER: The first step is the preparation and filing of a Dissolution of Marriage Petition. This Petition will list the general information about you, your spouse, and your children if applicable, and outline the action you want the Court to take in your particular case. This document is filed with the Clerk of Court and then must either be served upon your spouse by a sheriff or private process server. In order to save the cost of service by the sheriff or private server, your spouse can accept service of the Petition. Once service is accomplished, the ninety day waiting period begins to run.
During the ninety day waiting period, the parties and their attorneys will work to come to a joint settlement agreement, so that a trial will not be necessary. If a joint settlement agreement can be reached, the parties should not have to go to Court to finalize the dissolution.
If children are involved, the parties will need to attend a Children in the Middle class. The providers of this class can be found at the Iowa Supreme Court website. (Link: Children in the Middle)
Ifmatter will be set for mandatory mediation and for trial. Even though a case is set for trial, it can still be resolved through a settlement agreement prior to trial. Or if the parties cannot agree on all the terms of their divorce, they can agree to have a Judge decide only the few issues remaining, in order to save the parties time and money.
QUESTION: How can I go about changing the current custody or visitation arrangement I have with the other parent?
ANSWER: It is preferable if the two parties can agree on the changes they wish to make. An attorney could then be hired to memorialize the agreement and have it filed with the Court. If the parties cannot agree, an action can be filed in court so long as there has been a “substantial change in circumstances” and the best interests of the child warrants a change in the current custody or visitation arrangement.
QUESTION: What if I need to change the amount of child support I currently pay/receive?
ANSWER: If a person receives their services, he or she may contact the Child Support Recovery Unit at the Department of Human Services [LINK] to see if they are able to file an administrative action to modify the amount. If that agency is unable to help, one should seek consultation with a qualified attorney to see if your case can be modified by filing a civil action.
If you have additional questions and might be interested in hiring an attorney to assist you, please call (515) 233-3477, or email firstname.lastname@example.org, to set up a free initial consultation.
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