Iowa is a “no fault” state when it comes to divorces, although the Iowa Code requires certain grounds be alleged in order for a divorce case to proceed.
Iowa Code Section 598.5 addresses the contents of a dissolution of marriage (divorce or separation) petition. That section of the Iowa code provides as follows:
CONTENTS OF PETITION — VERIFICATION — EVIDENCE.
1. The petition for dissolution of marriage shall:
a. State the name, birth date, address and county of residence of the petitioner and the name and address of the petitioner’s attorney.
b. State the place and date of marriage of the parties.
c. State the name, birth date, address and county of residence, if known, of the respondent.
d. State the name and age of each minor child by date of birth whose welfare may be affected by the controversy.
e. State whether or not a separate action for dissolution of marriage or child support has been commenced and whether such action is pending in any court in this state or elsewhere. State whether the entry of an order would violate 28 U.S.C. § 1738B. If there is an existing child support order, the party shall disclose identifying information regarding the order.
f. Allege that the petition has been filed in good faith and for the purposes set forth therein.
g. Allege 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.
h. Set forth any application for temporary support of the petitioner and any children without enumerating the amounts thereof.
i. Set forth any application for permanent alimony or support, child custody, or disposition of property, as well as attorneys’ fees and suit money, without enumerating the amounts thereof.
j. State whether the appointment of a conciliator pursuant to section 598.16 may preserve the marriage.
k. Except where the respondent is a resident of this state and is served by personal service, state that the petitioner has been for the last year a resident of the state, specifying the county in which the petitioner has resided and the length of such residence in the state after deducting all absences from the state, and that the maintenance of the residence has been in good faith and not for the purpose of obtaining a dissolution of marriage only.
2. The petition shall be verified by the petitioner.
3. The allegations of the petition shall be established by competent evidence.
As can be seen in subsection 1.g, a person filing for divorce in Iowa must allege 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.” This portion can be thought of as the “grounds” for divorce in Iowa. The fact that Iowa law only requires that allegation and not specific detail as to why the marriage has broken down, or what legitimate objects of matrimony have been destroyed, or whose fault is that such a breakdown occurred, is why Iowa is considered a no-fault state.
It is important to note that Iowa being a no-fault state for divorce merely means that marital fault need not be proven to get a divorce. The actions that a spouse takes during the marriage and during the divorce case can have a profound effect upon child custody, child support, the property settlement, spousal support, etc. For that reason, any person seeking a divorce in Iowa should carefully consult with their attorney.