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How Does Iowa Handle Property Division in a Divorce?


Each state has its own rules on how to divide marital assets. Generally, they use one of two systems: equitable property division or community property division.

In this article, we focus specifically on Iowa’s approach to dividing assets in a divorce. If you are an Iowa resident preparing to end your marriage, this information will help you understand what to expect.

Equitable Distribution vs. Community Property Division in a Divorce

Community property division is sometimes referred to as “equal” division. This is the least-used model in the country. In it, all property acquired during the marriage is divided equally in a divorce. This means that you owe your spouse half the value of any marital assets you keep.

Equitable distribution is the most widely used model. In states with equitable distribution, a judge considers a variety of factors such as the length of the marriage, contributions to the marriage, and the earning potential of each spouse in order. Then, they attempt to distribute assets fairly, regardless of who paid for the item or whose name is on the lease.

Iowa is an equitable distribution state.

Keeping Your Property in an Iowa Divorce

In an equitable distribution state, all marital assets are subject to division. To keep your property, you must claim entitlement to that asset.

To do so, you must provide evidence of your contributions to that property.

This might include:

  • Contributions of labor
  • Financial contributions
  • Involvement in the property's acquisition or maintenance
  • Showing you were the primary user of that asset (such as in a car, entertainment center, expensive game console, etc.)

Assets That Can Be Divided in a Divorce

Typically, spouses share marital assets and divide them in a divorce, and spouses can keep their separate assets outright.

In general, marital assets include anything acquired during the marriage. Both spouses own this property equally, so the spouses must decide who will become the sole owner of each asset.

Separate assets are assets acquired by an individual before the marriage. They also include any inheritance they receive or gifts from people outside the marriage. Separate property should not be divisible in a divorce unless it becomes “commingled.”

A commingled asset is one that began as a separate asset. However, the spouse could contribute to this property, giving them some claim of ownership over that asset.

How Spousal Support Affects Property Division in Iowa

Spousal support, also known as alimony, is a court-ordered payment from one spouse to the other after a divorce. It provides financial assistance to the spouse with a lower income or earning capacity.

It can also have an impact on property division. If, for instance, a spouse is given a large portion of support, they may receive less property. The opposite is true if they receive a small amount of alimony.

The Law Offices of Mark R. Hinshaw, PLC can help make sure your assets are divided fairly in a divorce. Neither party should be left destitute, but you should also be able to keep the assets that are most important to you. For a free consultation, call us today at (515) 200-7571 or contact us online.