Property division is a fundamental part of a divorce case. It is one of the many reasons why divorces are so financially straining. Because future financial stability is at stake, even amicable proceedings can become contentious and emotional. When you and your spouse are beginning the long process of property division, it is important to have a qualified Des Moines divorce attorney protecting your financial interests.

The more complicated and high-value your assets are, the more complex the division of those assets will be. Whether you and your spouse are negotiating asset division or going through the court, it is important to understand how the process works.

What Property Is Divided in an Iowa Divorce?

Iowa divides all property that spouses own, regardless of whether it was obtained before or after the marriage. Property includes all assets and debts that both parties acquired while they were single and throughout their marriage.

If one spouse received a gift or inheritance provided only to them, this is the only property that the Iowa court does not have jurisdiction over and cannot split between spouses. This is true even if the gift or inheritance was acquired during the marriage.

The court assumes that all assets gained during the marriage are divisible property unless one spouse provides proof that it was an individual gift or inheritance.

Dividing Marital Property Through Negotiation

Spouses can divide their marital property through mediation or collaborative methods, rather than going through the court. As long as the court finds that the final agreement for property division is fair, it will approve how spouses have separated the assets and debts.

However, if spouses can’t reach an agreement about their marital property, the division will be up to the court.

Property Division Through the Court

Iowa, like many states, is an equitable distribution state. When the court is responsible for the division of property, property is divided based on what the court considers to be fair and equitable. The court may set certain assets aside for caring for children, but it will otherwise divide all divisible assets. The division of property is not based on marital fault, as Iowa is a no-fault state.

The Factors That Determine Equitable Distribution

When the court decides what is an equitable and reasonable division of property, it will consider all of the following factors:

  1. The duration of the couple’s marriage
  2. What property each spouse brought to the marriage
  3. Each spouse’s contributions to the marriage, including economic contributions, raising children, and caring for the marital home
  4. Each spouse’s age, physical health, and emotional well-being
  5. If either spouse contributed in any way to the increased earning potential, education, or job training of the other spouse
  6. Each party’s earning capacity, taking into account their education, employment skills, and experience, responsibilities for children after divorce, and the time needed to become self-supporting after the marriage to attain a reasonably similar standard of living
  7. Whether it is important that the marital home be provided to the spouse with primary custody or physical care of children
  8. Whether alimony will be awarded, how long it will be awarded, and if division of property should replace support payments
  9. Each spouse’s additional economic circumstances and financial resources, including future resources, unless those future resources can be eliminated by removing the spouse as a beneficiary
  10. Each spouse’s tax consequences from the divorce and division of property
  11. The existence of a marital agreement or written agreement concerning property division

The court will also consider any other factors deemed relevant to a family’s unique case.


Q: What Are the Marital Property Laws in Iowa?

A: In Iowa, all property is considered divisible property in a divorce, whether the property was obtained during a marriage or before the marriage. This is different from other states, where marital and separate property are treated differently. The exceptions to the property that Iowa courts can divide are:

  1. A gift given to only one spouse
  2. An inheritance granted to only one spouse

All other assets and debts are divided under equitable distribution laws by the court unless couples have a marital agreement or negotiate the property division outside of court.

Q: Is Iowa a 50-50 State for Divorce?

A: No, Iowa is not a 50-50 divorce state. During a divorce, all property is divided by equitable distribution laws if spouses do not make an agreement out of court. The court will review specific factors about a couple’s marriage, including its duration and the resources of each party, to decide what is a fair and equitable split of assets.

Although this split could end up being equal, it rarely does. If one spouse gives up career opportunities to care for children, the court may decide to provide them with a greater amount of assets.

Q: Does It Matter Who Files for Divorce First in Iowa?

A: The party that files for divorce first will have to pay the filing fee, and they may be able to represent their side to the court first. Presenting your case to the court first may be positive or negative. However, because Iowa is a no-fault divorce state, there is no legal benefit to filing first. If you and your spouse file a joint petition, then it makes no difference who files.

Q: How Long Do You Have to Be Married to Get Alimony in Iowa?

A: How long you are married will affect the type of alimony you receive in Iowa, and it can affect the length of time you receive it. However, there is not a specific amount of time that you must be married to get alimony. The court may grant limited or indefinite alimony, depending on the financial circumstances, age, and health of each spouse, among other factors. The longer a couple was married, the more likely the court is to award indefinite alimony.

Contact Stange Law Firm in Des Moines

Your financial future is incredibly important to think about during a divorce. Your attorney can protect your financial interests and help you and your spouse reach an agreement outside of court. This enables you to have more control over what property you retain. If your divorce can’t be negotiated, your attorney can advocate for your needs in court. Contact Stange Law Firm today for skilled and diligent legal support.