Ames office: 515-233-2052

Thornton & Coy, P.L.L.C. - Attorneys | Ames, IA

Ankeny office: 515-964-1825


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Family Law FAQs

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Retainer fees

What should I do if I am thinking about filing for divorce?


We would strongly encourage you to set up an initial appointment with one of our attorneys. At this initial meeting, we will review your family's unique situation. We will cover such issues as child custody, visitation, marital counseling, property division, spousal support, court costs, and legal fees.


If you are thinking about filing for divorce, or if you have just been served with divorce papers, it is important to consult with a qualified attorney to discuss your available legal courses of action. If you have been served with divorce papers, you will have 20 days from the date of service in which to file your answer, so you should consult with an attorney right away.


After meeting with an attorney, what steps need to be taken to complete a divorce in Iowa?


The first step is the preparation and filing of a Dissolution of Marriage Petition. This petition will list general information about you, your spouse, and your children, if applicable, and outline the action you want the court to take in your particular case. This document is filed with the Clerk of Court and then must either be served to your spouse by a sheriff or private process server. In order to save the cost of service by the sheriff or private server, your spouse can accept service of the petition. Once served, the 90 day waiting period begins.


During the 90 day waiting period, most attorneys will work to come to a joint settlement agreement between the parties, so that a trial will not be necessary. If a joint settlement agreement can be reached, the parties should not have to go to court to finalize the dissolution.


If children are involved, the parties will need to complete Children in the Middle course. The providers of this class can be found on the Iowa Supreme Court website.


If the parties cannot agree on a settlement of all terms, in most Iowa counties, the matter will be set for mandatory mediation and for trial. Even though a case is set for trial, it can still be resolved through a settlement agreement prior to trial. Or if the parties cannot agree on all the terms of their divorce, they can agree to have a judge decide only the few issues remaining, in order to save the parties time and money.


How can I go about changing the current custody or visitation arrangement I have with the other parent?


It is preferable if the two parties can agree on the changes they wish to make. An attorney can then be hired to memorialize the agreement and have it filed with the court. If the parties cannot agree, an action can be filed in court so long as there has been a substantial change in circumstances and the best interests of the child warrants a change in the current custody or visitation arrangement.


What if I need to change the amount of child support I currently pay or receive?


If a person receives their services, he or she may contact the Child Support Recovery Unit at the Department of Human Services to see if they are able to file an administrative action to modify the amount. If that agency is unable to help, one should seek a consultation with a qualified attorney to see if your case can be modified by filing a civil action.

Still have questions? One of our attorneys would be happy to provide you with additional information.

We care about the outcome of your case.

Learn more about family law matters

Going through a divorce is stressful enough. Add to that the complicated legal process and your situation can quickly turn into a nightmare. We strive to answer your questions and support you throughout the process for a more stress-free experience.

We put your child first

Your child's welfare

Whether you're going through a contested divorce or you need to modify a child support ruling, we can help. Read our list of FAQs below, then contact us for a FREE initial consultation.

Let us simplify your family law case. Call:


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515-233-2052  Ames

515-964-1825  Ankeny