How to File for Divorce in Polk County, Iowa

By Beverly Bird
You must have lived in Iowa for at least a year to file for divorce.

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Iowa simplified its divorce procedure by passing legislation allowing no-fault divorces. It is no longer necessary to prove a spouse’s wrongdoing. To petition for divorce, called a dissolution of marriage in Iowa, you only need to state that the marriage has broken down. Other requirements vary a little depending on whether or not you have children together.

Print out a petition for dissolution of marriage from Iowa’s Judicial Branch website (www.iowacourtsonline.org) if you and your spouse do not have children together. If you do have children, go to the District 5 courthouse located at 5th and Mulberry Street in Des Moines, and request a form for a petition for dissolution of marriage with children.

Fill in the petition with all required information. This includes names, addresses and dates of birth for you, your spouse and your children, if you have any. Tell the court where and when you got married. Check the boxes that say your marriage is broken, counseling won’t save it, you’re petitioning for divorce in good faith and you haven’t filed for divorce in any other county or state. Also check the appropriate boxes regarding what you are asking for: child support, if applicable, a division of marital debts and property, or alimony.

Take the petition back to the courthouse in Des Moines. Tell the clerk that you would like to file it, and ask for four other forms: a coversheet, a confidential information form, an original notice and a report of dissolution. On the coversheet, check off the box for the type of dissolution you are asking for, with or without children. Fill in your Social Security Number on the confidential information form, along with all the identifying information you included in your petition. Do this with the notice and the report form as well, but leave lines 14, 15 and 16 blank on the report form; the clerk will fill in these spaces. Return everything to the clerk for filing.

Serve your spouse with a copy of your petition and the notice within 90 days of filing them. The other documents are for the court's use only. When you file your paperwork, the clerk will time-stamp all your documents and return copies to you. You can either deliver the documents to your spouse in person or by mail, or you can ask the Polk County sheriff or a private process server to do it for you. This constitutes service.

About the Author

Beverly Bird is a practicing paralegal who has been writing professionally on legal subjects for over 30 years. She specializes in family law and estate law and has mediated family custody issues.

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