For many couples, the decision to get a divorce is the right one, even though it is difficult. This choice is made for the benefit of themselves, each other, and their families. Keeping the divorce process cost-effective can help lower the stress of the process while ensuring that both parties can better provide for themselves and their families. Working with a Des Moines divorce attorney can help couples determine their options for resolving a divorce in an easier and cheaper way.

Most divorces are handled outside of court rather than through costly and frustrating court litigation. Not every divorce can be handled outside of court, but many are. There are several benefits to crafting a separation agreement collaboratively rather than having a judge provide court orders.

The Purpose of Alternative Dispute Resolution

If you want to resolve your divorce at less cost, alternative dispute resolution (ADR) may be right for your separation. The main forms of ADR are divorce mediation and collaborative divorce. Both options allow you and your spouse to talk through important parts of your divorce. This includes how marital property is divided, whether there will be a spousal support award, a parenting plan for the custody of your children, and child support payments.

Divorces can be contested or uncontested, but both types of divorce can be handled through ADR. In uncontested divorces, both spouses agree on the aspects of their divorce and just need to determine the details in a written separation agreement. Contested divorces occur when spouses do not agree on the terms of their divorce. Although these divorces are sometimes litigated, they don’t have to be. Spouses can use ADR to resolve most or all of their separation agreement privately and collaboratively.

ADR provides spouses with more time, more control, and reduced stress during the divorce process. As long as the court finds the separation agreement to be fair to both spouses and in the interests of any minor children, the agreement will be approved.

Divorce Mediation

Divorce mediation occurs when spouses negotiate their agreement with a neutral third party present. This party may be a mediation attorney, a divorce counselor, or another professional. In Iowa, the court sometimes requires couples to go through mediation before granting a dissolution of their marriage.

This method of ADR is most beneficial for couples who are willing to amicably work together. The mediator can help facilitate discussions, guide conversations, and provide solutions, but they do not take part in the actual negotiations. The mediator is meant to be neutral, so they cannot advocate for either spouse’s needs. Mediation is not appropriate if couples are unable to talk through the aspects of their separation agreement or if either party refuses to compromise.

Collaborative Divorce

In a collaborative divorce, each spouse is represented by an attorney in private meetings. The focus is still on collaboration, and the attorneys may be the primary negotiators in the process or let the spouses negotiate, depending on the situation.

Collaborative divorce is especially useful for spouses who are getting a contested divorce, as this form of ADR can more effectively protect the rights of both spouses in that situation. Each spouse has an attorney looking out for their individual rights and interests while still working together on a separation agreement.

Benefits of ADR

The main benefit of ADR is its cost-effectiveness. Attorneys who provide divorce representation typically have lower rates for mediation or collaborative divorce than for litigation. Additionally, because ADR divorces are resolved more quickly, the hourly costs of an attorney do not add up as much. Because spouses usually have to go to court once for the approval of their agreement, this also cuts down on court costs.

ADR is less time-consuming and less stressful for the whole family. Spouses have control over the outcome rather than relying on the judge’s discretion. If spouses have children, ADR is a great way to begin the foundation needed for effective co-parenting.


Q: What Is the Cheapest Way to Get a Divorce in Iowa?

A: The cheapest way to get a divorce in Iowa is to get an uncontested divorce. An uncontested divorce occurs when spouses agree on the aspects of their separation agreement, including property division, child custody, and more. By mediating an uncontested divorce, spouses can negotiate the details of their separation agreement with the help of a third-party mediator. This is usually one of the fastest methods of divorce, especially if both spouses cooperate with the process.

Q: What Does the Average Divorce Cost in Iowa?

A: The average divorce cost in Iowa ranges based on many factors, but it can be several thousand dollars to several tens of thousands of dollars. Every divorce is unique, and so the costs will be unique. Some factors that influence the cost of a divorce include:

  • Whether it is uncontested or contested
  • Whether the spouses use alternative dispute resolution or litigate the divorce
  • The cost of the attorney or attorneys whom the spouses need to represent them
  • The complexity of the property that each spouse owns separately and together
  • Whether the couple has minor children

Q: Can You Get Divorced Without a Lawyer in Iowa?

A: You can legally get divorced without a lawyer in Iowa, but working with a divorce lawyer can be incredibly helpful. For some couples, divorcing without an attorney can save on costs, but it can increase the costs for others. If a spouse’s rights are not protected, they may end up without the financial support they need during and after a divorce. An attorney can help a spouse file the correct forms and negotiate an agreement that is in their family’s interests.

Q: What Is a Wife Entitled to in a Divorce in Iowa?

A: In an Iowa divorce, both spouses are entitled to:

  • A fair portion of marital property
  • The right to request child custody
  • The right to request child support
  • The right to request spousal support

Iowa is an equitable distribution state, meaning that marital property is split fairly between the spouses, but the state handles marital property differently than other states. Iowa considers all property to be marital property, whether it was obtained before, during, or after the marriage. The only property considered to be separate property is a gift or inheritance given to only one spouse.

Determining the Right Way to Resolve Your Divorce

ADR is not for everyone. If you are unsure of the right method for dissolving your marriage, contact the attorneys at Stange Law Firm. We can help you review your situation and determine the right option for your family.