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How to Modify a Divorce Decree
When you have completed your Iowa divorce papers online or otherwise, you will want to make at least two copies — one for your records and one to serve to your spouse. It is always recommended to call ahead to your local county clerk and verify that you are bringing all the necessary documents to the court.
You should also ask about the state filing fee and accepted forms of payment. When you hand your forms over and pay your fee, the clerk will stamp all of your documents and file the originals with the court. The clerk will have you fill out most of it, and will complete the rest before filing. When you have filed your Iowa divorce papers documents with the court, you will need to serve your spouse a copy of the documents immediately afterward. It is important to start the serving process as quickly as you can, as it can sometimes take a while to complete.
The court will not move forward with the divorce until it has received proof that your spouse was served. You have 90 days to serve the papers, after which the court will dismiss the case and you will have to start all over. Iowa allows you to serve your spouse in several ways. The easiest — if you and your spouse are on good terms — is to deliver the divorce papers in person or mail them.
If you do not have the option of serving your spouse directly, or if you expect him or her to be non-cooperative, you can hire someone to serve the papers. Iowa allows you to hire a sheriff's deputy or a private process server to get the job done. A sheriff's deputy is often less expensive, but will usually only attempts to serve the papers once.
If you think it may take a few attempts, the private process server may be a better value, as he or she will usually try repeatedly to serve the documents. When the court has proof of service, it will begin to move forward with the divorce. If you and your spouse are in agreement on everything, the divorce should not take that long to finalize. If you will need to argue your case to the court, the divorce may take quite a bit longer.
Legal custody defines which parent makes decisions about education, health care, and religion. This is normally granted to both parents. Physical custody is where the child lives and visitation refers to the rights of the non-custodial parent to spend time with their child.
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To modify a child custody agreement , you must file a Complaint for Modification that pleads substantial changes of circumstances since the Final Order was approved. It must contain new facts or facts not known at the time of the last order. You cannot relitigate previous issues just because you believe the original order was wrong. Courts are reluctant to change custody arrangements unless the party filing the action shows their home is substantially better for the child.
However, if your homes are equally good, there will not be a change. The preference is for stability even if the other parent also offers a good home environment. Even in this day and age, mothers are more likely to secure custody because they act as the primary caregiver. As gender roles adjust, this is equalizing as fathers also gain custody when they request it. Courts focus less on the gender of the parents and more on who provides the most direct care to the children getting them ready for school, doctor appointments, extra curricular activity attendance, etc.
Self-aware children who have strong opinions may communicate preferences in custody to the judge. If children have the maturity to report their needs and preferences, there can be an opportunity for them to discuss this with the judge. The parent themselves can move if they chose to, but only without taking the children with them. If a couple is still married or there is no parenting agreement in place, then they could possibly move out of state without letting the other parent know or getting permission from the court.
However, once the other parent finds out, they have the immediate right to go to court and ask for the return of the child while a parenting plan is sorted out through the courts. Modifications reflect the best interest of the child as well as convenience for the parents. For example, an every-other-weekend arrangement may adjust to half the summer or half of all school holidays to make traveling easier.
There will also be stipulations on who pays which travel expenses for the child. If it is better for the child to stay in the area, then custody may be transferred to the parent who is not moving. Parties may agree to a temporary child custody order until the divorce process is complete so the children are assured some stability. This order also includes child support payments. Courts order child custody evaluations when custody is disputed.
This is done to assess the best interest of the child and the home where they will thrive. It is an involved process that is often psychologically challenging for all involved, especially the children.
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The evaluator meets with all parties involved in the custody decision including parents, doctors, psychologists, teachers, and caregivers. Parents may be subjected to a psychological profile if there are claims of mental instability or substance abuse. The intention is to determine who the children are most bonded to and where they are most likely to thrive after the divorce is finished.
Time with your children depends on how you interact with your child and the relationship that already exists between you.
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Depending on circumstances, you may receive alternating weekends and a week night or the judge may determine it is more appropriate that you start with supervised time with your child. If you were largely an absentee parent, do not expect much time at first until you prove your commitment. The duration of child support payments is set by statutes. They remain due until emancipation, age 18 or age 21 if the child still requires support, as with current college attendance.
There are no other grounds to terminate child support.
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Even if your income substantially decreases, you can only attempt to reduce the amount of the payment. If you can prove your relationship with your stepchildren is significant and it is in their best interest that it remains intact, you may receive visitation rights. However, the only way to guarantee this is if you adopted the child. Stepparents do not normally have visitation rights. Property division can be complex, especially if there are assets one party owned before the marriage.
Many parties agree to property division without litigation. If there is no agreement, the court will determine how to divide property in the most equitable way possible. Generally, whoever wants the house gets to keep it. Usually, that is the parent who maintains custody of the children as a way to minimize disruption in their lives.
There are three options you can consider for the marital residence. One is to continue holding it jointly for the benefit of the children. This is frequently visited when the custodial parent cannot afford to keep the house on their own and requires assistance.
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The second is to sell the home and split the equity between the parties. This allows for a fresh start and clean break, but it removes children from the only home they may remember. Finally, there is also the option to cash out the other party and keep the home as a separate asset.
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