The Simple, Stress-Free Way to Get a Divorce Certificate in Iowa
Weddings are a fabulous display of love and unity, but the sad truth is that many marriages end in failure. Nearly half of all marriages (and 41 percent of first marriages) end in divorce. Everyone hopes to avoid it, but it's a normal, if painful, conclusion to a relationship.
If worse comes to worst, then your best option is to make that next step as smooth as possible. The divorce laws vary by each state, making for a complicated and intimidating process. Fortunately, you don’t have to navigate it alone. Here is how Iowa residents can get a , and how DoNotPay can help you do so with ease.
How Does the Divorce Process Start?
When you're at the point where you want to instigate a legal separation, it can be hard to know where to start with such an emotionally awkward situation. Getting a divorce doesn’t have to be difficult, but it does take a few months to complete.
All that's required to file for a divorce in Iowa is proof from one party that the marriage is broken beyond repair, and one spouse must have lived in the state for at least a year. (There is more paperwork if you have children.) From there, the first legal steps are as follows:
- Fill out a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage that gives the court information about you, your spouse, and your marriage.
- File that Petition in the clerk or court office in your county.
- Serve a copy of that petition to your spouse, also known as the respondent. If you can't get in contact with your spouse for whatever reason, then the county sheriff can serve them in your name. If they can't find your spouse, then you can mail the papers to their most recent address or publish a legal notice in the local newspaper.
- Once the respondent has been served, they must answer the Petition within 20 days or lose certain rights.
Filing the divorce petition costs $265. If you need the sheriff to help serve your papers, then they must be paid $40 to $50 for their services.
Divorce Comes in Three Forms
Regardless of how you feel about each other, your ability to compromise (or not) with your partner will play a huge role in how the divorce will proceed. There are three types of divorce proceedings in Iowa, with each one tailored to a different level of conflict in a relationship.
|Default||If your future ex-spouse doesn't respond to the petition within the allotted time, the court will allow you to invoke a default divorce without the input of your partner and grant all of your requests during a hearing.|
|Contested||A contested divorce is when you and your spouse disagree on many terms, such as child custody or property division. This results in both sides making their case at trial in front of a judge and/or jury. (Iowa does not require an attorney for a divorce.)
This method is time-consuming and potentially expensive. Legal representation costs money, and the Petitioner must also pay for the personal service of the initial paperwork on the Respondent. Also, the discovery process requires a thorough investigation into the claims of each party using evidence and witness interviews.
Each person's attorney can attempt to find a settlement, but you can never assume that negotiating will be productive or that a trial will play out in your favor.
|Uncontested||An uncontested divorce is the quickest and most affordable form of divorce. This is when each person agrees on all the major issues in their case, eliminating the need for long mediation sessions or costly attorney fees.
In Iowa, there is a mandatory waiting period of 90 days, sometimes referred to as a nisi period, that must run before a judge can officially annul the marriage. Unlike a contested divorce, the need to pay for personal services is not needed because the respondent spouse is likely to sign an Acceptance of Service form.
The Difference Between a Divorce Certificate and a Divorce Decree
Once the 90-day nisi period has passed, you will receive two documents that sound similar but are used in different situations. Here is the difference between a divorce decree and a divorce certificate:
A divorce decree is an official court document that presents the judge's decision in your divorce case and confirms the end of your marriage. Sometimes referred to as a "judgment of dissolution" or a "divorce judgment," the decree recaps the most important case information and each side's legal obligations moving forward. The document works as proof of the divorce that can be used to provide a road map of what each party needs to do going forward and an enforcement tool if either side comes up short.
The decree is delivered by Iowa district court clerks in person at the final hearing for your case, or by mail if an in-person meeting isn't required. They are exclusively available to the divorced parties, their legal representatives, and third parties with relevant court orders.
You can ask for an additional copy of your divorce decree by providing identifying information to the clerk of the court that tried your case. These requests can be made online, in-person, or over the phone. You will likely need to have the following identifying information:
- Names of the divorced parties
- The file case number
- The date the divorce was finalized
- A government-issued ID card
Iowa court charges 50 cents per page for copies of divorce court records, but mailed copies can come with extra processing fees. To look up state records online, you can try Iowa's state records website or this third-party divorce directory.
An Iowa divorce certificate is not delivered by a court. Instead, it comes from the state's Department of Public Health. It is a much shorter document than the decree and usually just one page long. A divorce certificate simply states the names of both parties, the fact that they are divorced, and the place and date of the divorce. The purpose of it is to provide immediate proof of a divorce without revealing deeper details. It can be used for the following purposes:
- Apply for a name change
- Get a passport/travel visa
- Apply for a marriage certificate
- Prove you are single for inheritance purposes
Divorce certificates are available to the two people the records belong to, their legal representatives, and anyone else the state specifically deems eligible.
To request a copy of the certificate, you can get in contact with the Iowa Department of Public Health to make an order. Like the divorce decree, they can receive requests online, through the mail, over the phone, or in person at the state vital records office in Des Moines. Each copy costs $15, online orders come with an extra $13 fee, and phone fees start at $9. A PDF of the application for the copy of a vital record can be seen here.
Get an Iowa Divorce Certificate the Easy Way with DoNotPay
DoNotPay can help you through each step of divorce by automating the more menial tasks involved with a separation. We use artificial intelligence to write out documents on your behalf and collect the necessary paperwork before officially asking for the divorce.
If you need a copy of your Iowa Divorce certificate, follow these 7 easy steps and avoid the hassle of navigating the court system on your own:
- Go to the Certificates of Divorce product on DoNotPay.
- Select whether the certificate belongs to you or a relative/loved one. If it belongs to someone else, enter the details of both people on the certificate, and select/upload evidence that proves your relationship with them. If the certificate is yours, enter the details of your spouse. Please note: some states only allow people named on the certificate to apply.
- Enter the city, state, and county where the divorce certificate and original divorce certificate were issued as well as the dates they were issued on.
- Indicate what you will be using this certificate for, and choose whether you need an authorized or certified copy.
- Enter your contact information and shipping address. Upload copies of your government-issued identification, such as a driver's license.
- Choose whether you would like to electronically sign this form or not. Once we generate the form, verify that all of the information is correct.
- If you need the document to be notarized, schedule a notarization appointment using our Notary product. Otherwise, proceed to our Mail Checks product and let DoNotPay mail in your request form with a check on your behalf!
It's just that easy. When the document is ready, you will be able to download it and print it out to use wherever you need it.
What Else Can DoNotPay Do?
We don’t only help with getting your . DoNotPay can help you obtain your divorce certificate wherever you live, including in Texas, Arkansas, Nevada, California, New York, and Florida.
Our services aren’t limited to divorce certificates, though. DoNotPay’s goal is to help you cut through bureaucracy and reduce red tape in tons of legal and personal matters, from getting compensation for robocalls to scheduling DMV appointments, mailing letters, and canceling subscriptions, just to name a few. Whatever you need, DoNotPay is here to help.