When it comes to divorce, people often have many questions: What do you do after being served with divorce papers? Do you want to start the divorce process? Does it matter who files for divorce first?

No matter your situation, divorce is a big decision and can be very complex, whether you are the one who wants to get a divorce or are the person who was served papers. It affects you on a deeply personal level and can be emotionally draining. Going through a divorce ranks as one of life’s greatest stressors.  Unfortunately, a substantial portion of marriages in the United States end up in divorce.

At Hall & Wingert, our attorneys have years of experience handling divorce cases in Iowa, and we understand that you likely have concerns that are specific to your situation. We are happy to speak to you directly about those concerns. If you’d like to learn more about general issues surrounding divorce in Iowa, you might also find the following information useful.

Common Questions Related to Divorce in Iowa

There are several questions that frequently come up when divorce is contemplated:

  • What should I do about child custody?
  • Divorce Attorney IowaWhat is primary physical custody?
  • What is Joint Legal Custody?
  • What is Joint Physical Care?
  • What do I do about child support?
  • How much child support will I pay?
  • Who covers health insurance?
  • How will the court divide our assets?
  • How will the court divide our debts?
  • How do I get alimony?

Let’s address some of the most pressing concerns posed by these questions…

Understanding Divorce Law in Iowa

Iowa is a “no-fault” state, which means you do not have to prove your spouse caused the marriage to fail, nor does your spouse need to prove that you caused the marriage to fail. You must live in Iowa for one year before you can file for a divorce in Iowa courts. However, if your spouse resides in Iowa, you may be able to file now.

Components of a Divorce

The typical issues that need to be resolved in divorces are:

  • Child custody
  • Child support
  • Division of property, assets and debts
  • Division of retirement accounts and real estate
  • Health insurance coverage
  • Spousal support (aka alimony)
  • Tax exemptions.

Sometimes, parties in a divorce can come to an agreement about these components. The attorneys will then draft a stipulated agreement, which will eventually be filed with the Court. However, in many cases, these issues must be presented in court for the judge to decide.

Whatever the situation, the lawyers at Hall & Wingert will guide you through the process. We tailor an approach suited for your personal and unique circumstances.


Divorces deeply affect children. Your lawyers at Hall & Wingert will provide you with advice on how to appropriately devise and plan a strategy that best fits your unique situation. In considering child custody, the Court ultimately looks at what’s in the best interest of the children.

Child custody can be the most critical issue during the divorce process or custody case.

Parents involved in a child custody action or divorce will have to take a class called “Children in the Middle,” which is required by statute.

In Iowa, there are generally two categories of custody. The first category is legal custody. Legal custody addresses the rights and responsibilities of a parent, including decision-making affecting the child’s legal status, medical care, education, extracurricular activities, and religious instruction, among other things. The parties may opt for sharing such custody, which is called joint legal custody, so that each party has equal rights to the children in terms of these responsibilities. In some cases, sole legal custody may be awarded under specific circumstances.

The second category is physical custody. Physical custody means the right and responsibility to maintain a home for the children and provide for their routine care. In general, it means who has the children in their care and how often.  The judge may award one person with primary care and award the other person visitation, which is also called parenting time.

The person awarded visitation or parenting time is referred to as the noncustodial parent and the other parent is referred to as the person with primary care or the primary caretaker. On the other hand, the individual is who awarded primary physical care is called the custodial parent. There are circumstances, however, where the court may award the parties joint physical care (aka shared care and joint physical custody) where both parties have the children about 50 percent of the time. In each case, the court looks at many factors in making its decision when determining custody.

The Iowa divorce attorneys at Hall & Wingert will discuss these factors with each client to provide an understanding of the factors the judge looks at in making the custody decision. We have worked with clients in many neighboring counties here in Iowa. Give us a call today and schedule a free consultation.


Iowa requires that both parents support their children financially. In many cases, the Iowa court will require one parent, usually the noncustodial parent, to pay a reasonable amount of financial support to the custodial parent. In most cases, parents are obligated to support their children until they turn 18 years of age. Sometimes parents can be required to pay child support past the age of 18. The amount of child support a parent will pay depends primarily on each parent’s income and other resources and how much time each parent spends with the children.

In some cases, no party may be ordered to pay child support given the similar incomes of the parents and the similar time each parent spends with the children. In addition, the cost of health insurance and the parent covering that expense will play a factor in the ultimate child support calculation. Ultimately, the judge is expected to follow the Iowa Child Support Guidelines according to Iowa Court Rules, unless doing so would be unjust or inappropriate.

If you already have an existing child support order in place, it may be necessary to have it modified. In order to qualify for a modification, there must be a substantial change in circumstances. Talk to one of the Iowa divorce attorneys at Hall & Wingert to determine whether your current child support order qualifies for modification.

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Divorces are actions in a court of equity. Marital property in Iowa is divided as a matter of equity, which does not necessarily mean it’s “equal.” With the division of marital property based upon equitable distribution, it is important that your attorney make the proper analysis so that you get your fair share. The court divides the marital property between the parties as it deems equitable and just, sometimes setting aside any inherited property or gifts received individually.

Some of the factors the court considers are:

  • The property brought to the marriage by each party
  • The financial contribution of each party to the marriage
  • The past contribution by one party to the education or increased earning power of the other
  • The present and future earning potential of each party
  • The physical and emotional health of the parties
  • The desirability of awarding the family home to the party with custody of the children.


The court will not automatically award spousal support.

The court looks at a variety of factors to determine whether alimony should be awarded to a particular party during a divorce action, including the parties’ incomes, the duration of the marriage, and support of the children.

As you can see, there are several considerations made in the divorce process. We encourage you to contact the Iowa divorce attorneys at Hall & Wingert to learn more about your options.

Contact Us Today!

Divorce can be a trying and difficult time. The experienced family law attorneys at Hall & Wingert will treat your case with the care and compassion you deserve. Let us help you through this time, and we’ll take care of you. Send us an email, or call us at (712) 226-4255 to start your FREE consultation, today!