The divorce process is often highly stressful, even when a couple would like to separate on friendly terms. In addition to personal and family-related emotional turmoil, divorcing couples usually face significant decisions about how to divide financial and real estate assets.

When separating partners cannot decide on a fair division that works for both of them, the judge must often make those choices. Here are a few quick answers to questions that couples frequently have about how Iowa law treats property division during a divorce.

Is Iowa a community property state?

In some states, the law says that any property acquired by either partner while married is jointly owned, considered “community property” and generally subject to a 50/50 distribution upon divorce. However, Iowa is not a community property state, meaning that the court has more leeway when it comes to deciding who gets what percentage of assets. Depending on each individual case, the court may decide to award significantly more to one party or the other.

What items does marital property cover?

In most cases, any purchases made, income received or interest earned during marriage is marital property. However, there are examples of items that may not be considered shared, including:

  • Property that an individual acquired before marriage
  • Personal gifts
  • Court awards
  • Pension proceeds
  • Inheritances

Who gets to keep the house?

In the case of divorcing couples with children, the court often allows the parent with primary child-raising responsibilities to keep the marital home. If there are no children and the couple has purchased the house together, the choice of who gets to stay in the house will depend on the court’s decision, unless the two spouses can agree on an equitable solution.

High emotions during a divorce often lead couples to try to rush the process. It is important to remember that the steps taken today lay the groundwork for the future.