Can I Divorce My Spouse for Adultery in Iowa?
Adultery, cheating, extramarital relations, affair, and infidelity: these are all names that can be used to describe when a married person becomes involved with someone who is not their spouse. Whatever name it goes by, it has caused the breakup of many a marriage.
While divorce is stressful enough—on one scale of the top 40-odd most stressful life events, divorce ranks second only to the death of a spouse—if your other half had an extramarital affair, you’re carrying an extra burden of anger and resentment. You may want to make your spouse pay for what they’ve done to you.
You might be wondering if you can use adultery as a basis or “ground” for your divorce. If you live in Iowa, the short answer is no. While adultery is a crime in some states, it’s not illegal in Iowa, and it cannot be used as a ground for divorce. Iowa law does not require you to prove the divorce is someone’s fault. This is what we call “no-fault divorce.”
Does that mean your spouse’s adultery plays no part in the divorce proceedings? Not necessarily. While adultery is not generally factored into the court’s decisions about alimony, child custody, or visitation rights, it might, under certain circumstances, be considered when it comes to the division of marital assets.
If you’re facing a divorce, whether you’re the one petitioning for it or you received a petition from your spouse, you have a lot of decisions to make, and you’re under an inordinate amount of stress. Family law can be complex, and unless you’re a divorce attorney or a judge, it might not be familiar territory for you.
The Cedar Rapids dissolution of marriage attorneys at Arenson Law Group, PC have years of experience in Iowa family law, and they can help you navigate the system. They’re ready to fight for you and protect your rights during this difficult time.
We will put our skills to work for you to help you receive the best possible outcome at the end of your marriage.
Contact Arenson Law Group, PC at (319) 363-8199 today to begin work on your case and start your path toward a better life.
Fault v. No-Fault Divorce
Since Iowa is a “no-fault divorce” state, you can’t blame your spouse for the divorce—it’s not anyone’s fault in the eyes of the law. Therefore, you can’t get a divorce on the ground of adultery (or abuse, desertion, substance abuse, or anything else) in Iowa.
In a no-fault divorce, the law (Iowa Code § 598.5) only requires proof that “there has been a breakdown of the marriage relationship to the extent that the legitimate objects of matrimony have been destroyed and there remains no reasonable likelihood that the marriage can be preserved.”
The court will need to see evidence that the marriage relationship is over. This proof can be in the form of text messages, emails, social media posts, testimony from friends or family, or your own testimony.
Iowa courts also don’t consider the fault of either party when it comes to determining whether or how much alimony (spousal support) to award in a divorce.
There are a variety of factors the court will consider when deciding the dollar amount of payments (known in Iowa as “maintenance payments”), including:
- Length of the marriage
- Age and health of the parties
- The educational level of each party
- Earning capacity of each party
- Feasibility of the party seeking maintenance becoming self-supporting
Custody of Children and Visitation Rights
During a divorce where minor children are involved, the courts will consider their well-being first and foremost. When deciding what is in the best interest of the child or children, the judge will weigh factors such as:
- Their relationships with each parent
- Each parent’s stability
- The child’s ties to each parent’s community
Adultery will not typically play a part in the decisions about custody or visitation.
Division of Personal Property
Iowa is an “equitable distribution” state, meaning the court will divide property (except gifts or inheritances) that was acquired before or during the marriage. A portion of the property might be set aside in a fund for the support, maintenance, and education of any minor children.
Under certain circumstances, your spouse’s financial actions during an extramarital affair—but not the affair itself—might affect the division of personal property. Did they lavish expensive gifts, restaurant meals, or luxurious vacations on the other person? If you can prove that they spent substantial marital assets on the affair, the judge may factor that in when deciding on the division of personal property in the divorce.
How a Dissolution of Marriage Attorney Can Help
Even if you and your spouse agree on what you want to happen in the divorce, moving forward on your own might not be worth the risks. While a DIY divorce might look good at first glance because it’s cheaper and you think it will be simple, keep in mind that mistakes made now can affect your life and financial health long term.
An experienced Cedar Rapids dissolution of marriage attorney with years of legal education and courtroom experience in Iowa can help you avoid common errors people make when they try to negotiate a divorce without a lawyer.
Here are some of the benefits of teaming up with a top-notch divorce attorney:
- Sound legal advice
- Help with understanding your rights
- Confident and well-informed negotiations on your behalf
- Guidance to serve you during divorce proceedings and beyond
- Realistic perspective when emotions might cloud your decisions or make you want to concede too much just to get it over with
- Help with filling out paperwork, gathering evidence, or determining your assets
- Compassion and support
If you’re seeking to dissolve your marriage, turn to a qualified and experienced Cedar Rapids family lawyer for guidance and support.
No matter the difficulties involved in your separation, Arenson Law Group, PC will help you seek the best possible outcome at the end of your marriage. You deserve fair and just treatment, and our attorneys will fight for your best interests.
Contact Arenson Law Group, PC at (319) 363-8199 to schedule a confidential case evaluation with us today.
Written by James H. ArensonLast Updated : April 28, 2023