Attorney Eric D. Puryear

Waiving the 90-Day Waiting Period in an Iowa Divorce Case

Puryear Law » Legal Blog » Iowa Family Law » Waiving the 90-Day Waiting Period in an Iowa Divorce Case

Under Iowa law, those seeking a divorce are subject to a 90 day waiting period. However, the Iowa code allows for waiver of that waiting period under certain narrow circumstances.

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         No decree dissolving a marriage shall be granted in any proceeding
      before ninety days shall have elapsed from the day the original
      notice is served, or from the last day of publication of notice, or
      from the date that waiver or acceptance of original notice is filed
      or until after conciliation is completed, whichever period shall be
      longer. However, the court may in its discretion, on written motion
      supported by affidavit setting forth grounds of emergency or
      necessity and facts which satisfy the court that immediate action is
      warranted or required to protect the substantive rights or interests
      of any party or person who might be affected by the decree, hold a
      hearing and grant a decree dissolving the marriage prior to the
      expiration of the applicable period, provided that requirements of
      notice have been complied with. In such case the grounds of emergency
      or necessity and the facts with respect thereto shall be recited in
      the decree unless otherwise ordered by the court. The court may enter
      an order finding the respondent in default and waiving conciliation
      when the respondent has failed to file an appearance within the time
      set forth in the original notice.

On its face, Iowa Code section 598.19 provides for the ability to skip or shorten the 90 day waiting period that normally is required in every Iowa divorce case. However, that ability to waive the waiting period is more limited than the statute might suggest after a casual reading. That is for a couple of reasons.

First and foremost, the Iowa courts are reluctant to waive the waiting period as Iowa public policy supports the presence of the waiting period as part of the divorce process that is in the best interest of the parties and any children.  In other words, the Iowa legal system presumes that a just resolution is more likely in cases where the waiting period is enforced.  Sometimes, the reasoning goes, that will result in the parties reconciling.  In other cases, the waiting period will give the parties time to cool off and resolve their divorce case by agreement in a way that is more reasonable than might have been done before that cooling off period.  That means that for uncontested divorces where the only delay is the waiting period, it is unlikely that most people will see the waiting period waived in Iowa

Secondly, as a practical matter, it is often difficult in many counties in Iowa to get the court time that would be needed for a contested divorce trial in fewer than 90 days.  Taking my home county of Scott, IA as an example, it would be unlikely to be able to obtain 1 day of court time within 90 days, for a divorce trial even if it could be requested on the very first day the divorce case.  That delay in court scheduling, which is a function of how busy the courts are, would make it difficult to resolve a case sooner than 90 days through a trial even if the waiver of the 90 days waiting period was granted.

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For most people seeking a divorce in Iowa, the 90 day waiting period is a firm requirement that cannot be waived.  However, there are some circumstances where it can be waived, when there is very good cause.  Those who are seeking a divorce in Iowa should discuss the matter with their divorce attorney.

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