If you are filing for a divorce in Iowa, you must wait at least 90 days before the court finalizes your divorce. The waiting period applies in both contested and uncontested divorces. Only in limited circumstances can it be waived.
While 90 days is the minimum amount of time that must elapse before your divorce is final, depending on your situation, the process can last longer than that.
When Does the 90-Day Clock Start Ticking?
The 90-day waiting period for a divorce to be finalized does not begin when you file your dissolution of marriage petition with the court. Rather, it starts after your spouse has been served with a copy of the papers. Your spouse being served with the divorce documents means that either a process server or sheriff has hand-delivered the papers to them.
Note that if you are unable to locate your spouse to have them served with the papers, you must make a good faith attempt to find them. If your efforts are unsuccessful, then you must post a notice in the newspaper. In this situation, the 90-day waiting period does not begin until the last day that the notice was published (Iowa Code § 598.19).
Ensuring You Meet Residency Requirements for a Divorce
Before you can submit your petition for your dissolution of marriage and serve your spouse with the papers, you must ensure that you meet Iowa's residency requirements for a divorce. You must have either lived in Iowa for at least 1 year before seeking a divorce or your spouse must be a resident of Iowa.
What Happens During the 90-Day Waiting Period?
The 90-day waiting period is the time you and your spouse must use to settle all issues pertaining to your separation.
Matters you and your spouse may need to consider include, but are not limited to:
- Property ownership
Remember: Even if you and your spouse agree on arrangements concerning the issues listed above, you must still wait the 90 days.
In some cases, the court may order you and your spouse to mediation or classes to resolve certain matters, which can be completed during the waiting period.
Can the 90-Day Waiting Period Be Waived?
Depending on your situation, you may not have to wait 90 days before the court finalizes your divorce. However, a judge will sign a final decree sooner only if there is an emergency or your circumstances necessitate early action to protect the rights and interests of any party involved in the divorce (Iowa Code § 598.19).
Still, even if you are seeking to have your divorce finalized before the 90 days, you must go through the proper channels: meeting residency requirements, filing a petition with the court, and serving your spouse with papers.
Can It Take Longer than 90 Days to Finalize a Divorce?
Divorces are complicated matters, and much needs to be considered throughout the process. Because you and your spouse both want to protect your own interests, you may not agree on how to settle crucial issues. In such cases, the court may set your case for a hearing and a judge will make final decisions.
If your case goes to trial, it can take longer than 90 days to settle.
What Happens After the Divorce Is Final?
After the 90-day waiting period has elapsed or all matters have been settled, a judge will sign a final divorce decree. This document details the obligations of both you and your spouse. It may contain arrangements for division of property, child custody, child support, and other matters.
Because the court issues the divorce decree, failing to abide by the terms can result in legal action. If you or your spouse is alleged to have gone against the court order, an enforcement petition may be filed, and you or your spouse may be subject to various sanctions, including fines and/or jail time.
The Law Offices of Mark R. Hinshaw is here to help you through the divorce process in West Des Moines. Schedule a consultation with us by calling (515) 200-7571 or submitting an online contact form.