What is a premarital agreement?
A premarital agreement is a written document executed by persons in contemplation of marriage that will be effective upon their marriage. It may cover matters related to how they will treat each other’s premarital property, what dispositions might be made of the property they acquire during their marriage, the making of a will, trust or other agreement to carry out the provisions of their agreement, the rights each will have in the event of death, and any other matter not in violation of public policy or prohibited by law.
What type of marriage relationship does Iowa recognize?
Two forms of marriage are recognized in Iowa. One is ceremonial, governed by statute. In this regard, the Iowa Supreme Court has held that restricting marriage to persons of the opposite sex is unconstitutional. Thus same sex marriage is valid. The second form of marriage is informal, known as a common law marriage.
What is common law marriage?
Even if no marriage license has been obtained, a couple may be deemed to be married under Iowa law if all of the following exist: (1) the couple has the present intent and agreement to be married; (2) there is continuous cohabitation; and (3) the couple has made public declarations that they are married. Although Iowa recognizes common law marriages, there is no such thing as a common law divorce. In order to dissolve a common law marriage, the requirements of Iowa’s dissolution of marriage laws must be followed
What is a divorce or dissolution of marriage?
In Iowa, the process of dissolving a marriage is governed by Chapter 598 of the Code of Iowa. If the marital relationship has broken down 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 may grant a Decree dissolving the marriage. As part of the dissolution process, the Court may make orders regarding child custody, child visitation, child support, disposition of property, and alimony.
What is child custody?
Child custody relates to which parent, relative or other adult should have physical and/or legal control and responsibility for a minor child/children (under 18 years of age). When making determinations regarding the children, the Court will attempt to ensure that the best interests of the children are fostered. The custody arrangement should provide for the child to have the opportunity for maximum continuous physical and emotional contact possible with both parents, unless direct physical or significant emotional harm to the child might result from that contact.
What is joint legal custody?
This is an award of a minor child to both parents under which both parents have legal custodial rights and responsibilities toward the child and under which neither parent has legal custodial rights superior to those of the other parent. Those rights and responsibilities include, but are not limited to, equal participation in decisions affecting the child’s legal status, medical care, education, extracurricular activities, and religious instruction.
What is joint physical care?
This is an award of the physical care of a minor child under which both parents have rights and responsibilities toward the child including but not limited to shared parenting time with the child, maintaining homes for the child, providing routine care for the child and under which neither parent has physical care rights superior to those of the other parent.
What are visitation rights?
The Court, insofar as is reasonable and in the best interest of the child, is to provide the parent who does not have physical care of a child with liberal visitation rights, where appropriate, that will assure the child the opportunity for the maximum continuing physical and emotional contact with that parent.
What is child support and how is it determined?
“Child support” is an amount which the court may require either of the parties to pay under a temporary order or a final judgment or decree. For orders entered on or after July 1, 1990, unless the court specifically orders otherwise, medical support is not included in the monetary amount of child support. The obligation shall include support for a child who is between the ages of eighteen and nineteen years who is engaged full-time in completing high school graduation or equivalency requirements in a manner which is reasonably expected to result in completion of the requirements prior to the person reaching nineteen years of age; and may include support for a child of any age who is dependent on the parties to the dissolution proceedings because of physical or mental disability.
Child support guidelines are used by the Court to establish the support obligations of the parties. Our office has a computer program that will calculate the child support guidelines for specific fact patterns.
What is a postsecondary education subsidy?
This is an amount which either of the parties may be required to pay under a temporary order or final judgment or decree for the educational expenses of a child who is between the ages of eighteen and twenty-two years if the child is regularly attending a course of vocational-technical training, either as a part of a regular school program or under special arrangements adapted to the individual person’s needs; or is, in good faith, a full-time student in a college, university, or community college; or has been accepted for admission to a college, university, or community college and the next regular term has not yet begun.
The Court may order a postsecondary education subsidy if good cause is shown. In determining whether good cause exists, the Court shall consider the age of the child, the ability of the child relative to postsecondary education, the child’s financial resources, whether the child is self-sustaining, and the financial condition of each parent. The amount paid by each parent will be determined by the Court but is not to exceed thirty-three and one-third percent of the total cost of postsecondary education based upon the cost of attending an in-state public institution for a course of instruction leading to an undergraduate degree and shall include the reasonable costs for only necessary postsecondary education expenses.
What is alimony or spousal support?
Alimony or spousal support may be awarded to accomplish one or more of three general purposes:
(1) Rehabilitative Alimony. Such an award is meant to support an economically dependent spouse through a limited period of education and retraining. Its goal is to allow the dependent spouse to become self-sustaining coupled with the incentive to do so.
(2) Reimbursement Alimony. Such an award is based upon the economic sacrifices made by one spouse during the marriage that directly enhanced the future earning capacity of the other.
(3) Traditional Alimony. Such an award is general for life or for so long as a dependent spouse is incapable of self-support. The longer the marriage and the greater disparity in earning capacities, the more likely that the Court will consider and make such an award. The Court will consider the earning capacity of each party and their present standards of living and ability to pay balanced against their respective needs.
What constitutes a division of property?
As part of a dissolution of marriage, the Court is authorized to divide the parties’ assets and liabilities. The factors affecting that division are set forth at Section 598.21, Code of Iowa. Iowa law does not mandate an equal division or percentage distribution of marital assets, but it does require that the division be equitable and fair.
What can be modified after the Court has entered its Decree?
If there has been a substantial and material change in circumstances that is more or less permanent, and not merely temporary, and that was not contemplated by the Court issuing the Decree, the Court has the authority to modify the alimony, child custody, child visitation, and child support provisions of that Decree. However, property divisions made in a Decree are not subject to modification.
For additional information regarding these and other family law topics and issues, you may contact Mark H. Rettig at the offices of Day Rettig Martin, P.C. located at 150 First Avenue NE, Suite 415, Cedar Rapids, IA [mailing address: P.O. Box 2877, Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52406], telephone number 319-365-0437.