Resolving the major issue
The major points of contention in most divorce cases involve issues of property division, child custody or spousal support. If you plan on proceeding to a trial, here is some history of how Iowa courts typically adjudicate these issues.
Iowa courts prefer for divorcing couples to reach an independent arrangement for property division. If this is not possible, the court will step in and divide any marital property using some or all of the following factors:
- The length of the marriage
- The contribution of each party to the marriage
- the age and health of the parties
- The contribution by one party to the education or increased earning power of the other
- Earning capacity of each spouse
- Party having custody of the children
- Tax consequences to each party
- Any written agreement made by the parties concerning property distribution;
- Provisions of an antenuptial agreement
- other factors the court may determine to be relevant in an individual case.
Iowa is an equitable distribution state, meaning that property is allocated according to what is fair and just. This does not necessarily mean that there is a 50/50 split. Only marital property is distributed upon divorce; separate property, including assets owned prior to the marriage, are not typically involved in this process.
Property is valuated independently and then allocated to either spouse. Major assets like real estate may be sold with profits divided accordingly, allocated to the parent with child custody, or bought out by one spouse.
The state of Iowa makes child custody decisions based on the best interests of the child. Iowa courts grant legal custody, i.e. the right to make decisions about the day to day care of the child, to one or both parents. The other half of child custody judgments involves physical care which is actual possession of the minor. Physical care may include physical custody as well as visitation rights. Iowa courts prefer to grant joint custody to serve the best interests of the child.
Determining who will receive custody of any minor children may include consideration of one or more of the following factors:
- Who would be a suitable custodian for the child
- Will the psychological and emotional needs and development of the child improve due to active contact with both parents
- Can the parents communicate with each other
- Have both parents actively cared for the child before and during the separation
- Is the custody arrangement is in accord with the child’s wishes
- Does either parent oppose joint custody?
- The proximity of the parents
- Is there a history of domestic abuse
Iowa courts will grant one spouse spousal support or alimony if they can demonstrate that they are unable to financially support themselves, but the presumption is that this is a temporary order until the dependent spouse can obtain the education, training or employment to sustain themselves. It is possible to obtain permanent alimony, but the marriage must have been lengthy and the dependent spouse incapable of financially supporting themselves.
A few factors will be considered in awarding spousal support, including:
- The standard of living in the marriage
- Tthe tax consequences of spousal support
- Any agreement the parties had
- The earning capacity of the spouse seeking support
- Whether the dependent spouse is responsible for children
- Length of the marriage.