Frequently Asked Questions About Divorce

Answers from Our Mason City Divorce Attorney

As you work toward a resolution for your family law matter, we encourage you to find answers to the questions you have. Below, our Mason City dirovrce lawyers have answered several frequently asked questions.

What should I expect in terms of child support payments?

The amount of child support payments is determined by a calculation of a number of factors. Some of these factors include the number of children requiring support, the income of the non-custodial parent, the income of the custodial parent, the cost of daycare paid by each parent, the non-custodial parent's payments to an ex-spouse or children from a previous marriage, and the amount of family health insurance paid by each parent. A divorce attorney can give your more specific information about your child support payments.

If my ex-spouse has joint custody or visitation rights, can I relocate out of state?

In Iowa, most parents who divorce have joint legal custody, even if one parent has sole physical custody. Although parents are allowed to relocate, any move more than 150 miles is considered a substantial change in circumstances, which means that the court can then change the custody agreement. Types of changes include giving summer custody or scheduled phone calls to the non-custodial parent who is not moving. The parent who relocates may be responsible for expenses related to transportation to the other parent. The spouse may also petition for a transfer of custody if it is in the best interests of the children.

How does paternity testing work?

When individuals, either the mother, father, or child, are attempting to establish legal paternity rights, the court will usually order a SWAB Test or a DNA Genetic Identity test. These tests match up certain genetic markers in the adult male's DNA with the DNA of the child in question. If there is at least 95% similarity, the court will rule that he is the father. There are exceptions to this; if your attorney can present evidence of another male with a similar amount of genetic similarity, then there will likely be more tests.

What are the grounds for divorce in Iowa?

The state of Iowa is a "no fault" divorce state. This means that one party can seek a divorce based on irretrievable breakdown and the spouse is not required to blame the other spouse for any misdeed or wrongdoing.

How long does it take to get a divorce?

In Iowa, state laws requires a 90 day waiting period that begins from the date the petition is served before the court is allowed to enter any final decree. However, under some circumstances the court may waive the 90 day waiting period.

I've been served divorce papers, what should I do next?

The first thing you should do is consult with a Mason City divorce attorney from our firm. When someone is served divorce papers, they have the right to file a response, which is known as an "answer." Note that there is a deadline to file an answer, which is usually 20 calendar days from the date of service, but this could vary depending on the circumstances of your case.

My spouse agreed to pay certain marital debts, what happens if my spouse doesn't pay them?

Unfortunately if your spouse fails to pay certain marital debts which he or she took responsibility for, the creditor could go after you to obtain payment for those debts. However, if this does happen you could take your spouse to court in an enforcement action.

I lost my job and can't afford child support, can I stop making payments?

No! Just because you lost your job it doesn't mean that you can stop paying child support. The current child support order remains in force unit you petition for a modification and a family court judge signs off on your petition, thereby modifying your payments. Unless you obtain a modification in court, your obligations remain the same and child support is not retroactive; therefore, the sooner you petition the court for a downward modification, the better.

I am a victim of domestic violence, will a restraining order help my child custody case?

If your spouse is arrested and convicted of domestic violence, or if you obtain a restraining order against your spouse, it can certainly help your child custody case. Depending on the nature and extent of the abuse, obtaining a restraining order can strengthen your case and help protect you and your children from future harm. Without a conviction or a restraining order, you may have a more difficult time obtaining the child custody arrangement you are seeking; therefore, it's important to consult with an attorney about the best way to proceed forward during this difficult time.

If I establish paternity, will my child's father get visitation?

Once paternity is established, the legal father assumes the rights and responsibilities of being a parent and these include the obligation to pay child support, and the right to custody and visitation of his child. When considering filing a paternity action, it's important to take these factors into consideration as they may play a role in your decision to move forward.

Contact McGuire Law, PLC for Divorce Support

Whether you need assistance with a divorce or family law issue, at McGuire Law, PLC, we are here to offer you guidance and support during this transitional period in your life. For decades we have been servicing the residents of Mason City and Cedar Rapids, and we are very familiar with the local family courts, local divorce attorneys and the local family court judges.

We believe in maintaining these relationships and fostering mutual respect among our peers. However, protecting our clients' best interests is our top priority at all times. Should your family law issue become complex or difficult, we are here to guide you every step of the way and zealously fight on your behalf. For more information on our services, please contact a Mason City divorce lawyer from our firm today!