The purpose of this article is to explain the basics of the divorce process in Iowa. Of course, if you ever have any questions about divorce, child custody and support, or other family law issues, please call Carr & Wright and ask to speak to one of our attorneys. Divorce (or "dissolution of marriage") is a very serious matter with long reaching legal implications. That is why we recommend speaking to an experienced family law attorney, such as one of the fine attorneys in our office.
The first step is the actual filing for divorce, and the person filing the petition for divorce will forever be referred to as the "Petitioner". His/her spouse will become the "Respondent." Getting the petition right is crucial, because in the Petition you ask the court to grant you certain things in the divorce - such as custody, child support, property division, and alimony, as well as asking the other party to share in the court costs and attorney fees. You must also show that the Court has jurisdiction to decide those matters. This can be a complicated matter, especially if children are involved, so it is important to bring a lot of information with you when you first meet with your attorney.
One big complaint we often hear is that it takes a long time to finalize a divorce, especially when child custody is being determined. This is true, but one way to get a temporary order is to ask the Court for a hearing on temporary matters. Through this process, you are able to get a court hearing on matters such as custody, support, alimony, etc. much earlier than waiting to settle your divorce or going to trial.
Assuming the Respondent has filed his/her Answer, the case proceeds to sharing information and discovery. Now, the Court requires the parties to exchange some information without Discovery, such as financial information and affidavits, but in most cases, Discovery is essential.