Definition of a Legal Separation in Iowa

By Chris Blank

Couples sometimes opt for legal separation rather than divorce because of religious beliefs held by one or both spouses. Other couples choose legal separation to allow one spouse to retain health insurance coverage under the other spouse's policy. Many couples hold the mistaken belief that because they have lived apart for years or even decades, they are legally separated. However, in a state like Iowa that recognizes legal separation, unless a petition has been filed, this is not the case. Couples may file for legal separation independently, with legal advice or by using resources available from online legal documentation providers.

Definition

A legal separation allows couples to live apart from one another with many of the rights and obligations of divorce, including spousal maintenance, child custody and child support, and the legal division of marital property. However, in the eyes of the law, the couple is still married, which means that neither spouse is free to marry anyone else. In the 21st century, legal separation is much less common than in the past, when few states allowed no-fault divorce, and there was significant social stigma associated with divorce.

Iowa Legal Separation

Iowa Code Annotated; Sections 598.5, 598.6, 598.17, and 598.28 recognizes legal separation if there is "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." At least one spouse must be an Iowa resident. If the person seeking the legal separation is not an Iowa resident, the other spouse must live in Iowa and must be served separation papers in person. Otherwise, the person seeking legal separation must have been an Iowa resident for at least one year prior to filing a petition for legal separation.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More

Property, Custody and Tax Matters

Iowa is an "equitable distribution" state, which means that all property possessed by both spouses, except for inheritances and gifts, is divided between spouses in the event of a legal separation or divorce. This is true whether the property involved was acquired before or during the marriage. Among the elements included in a legal separation agreement are whether one spouse retains possession of the family home, custody and support for minor children, allocation of debts and spousal support payments.

Considerations

Because legally separated spouses are still married, each spouse may still be liable for the debts and financial obligations of the other spouse, unless the separation agreement specifically states otherwise. However, legally separated spouses are free to move wherever they choose, although custody arrangements may place limitations on a spouse who wishes to make a move far away with the couple's children. Many legally separated couples feel free to date others, but if the couple later divorces, this may cause complications.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
Indiana Laws for Separation Before Divorce

References

Resources

Related articles

Iowa Divorce Rules & Regulations

Divorce laws are different from state to state. Iowa's procedures for divorce, also called dissolution of marriage, are set forth in the state's code. The law addresses the requirements that must be met in order to file in Iowa, as well as the procedures for dividing the marital property and awarding alimony.

Common Law Divorce & Kansas Custody Rules

When we think of marriage, we often picture a ceremony presided over by a judge or clergyman before family and friends. However, some states still recognize marriages that are not formed in this manner, but rather arise from a couple living together and holding themselves out to the public as married. Such relationships are known as common law marriages, and Kansas is one of the few remaining states that still recognize them. In Kansas, common law spouses are subject to the same divorce and custody rules as traditionally married couples.

The Advantages of Legal Separation Vs. Divorce in New York

The decision to dissolve a marriage is not meant to be taken lightly. Due to the sweeping effects that a divorce can have on a couple's life, either spouse may be unsure as to whether such a bold change in relationship status would be beneficial. For that reason, New York offers legal separation as a way to allow a couple to experience life apart for a period, or as a long term alternative to divorce.

Get Divorced Online

Related articles

What Is a Unilateral Divorce?

Unilateral divorce describes a divorce in which one spouse terminates the marriage without the consent of the other ...

Examples of Grounds for Divorce

No matter which state you live in, you must have grounds to file for divorce. All states allow for "no-fault" divorce, ...

Connecticut Divorce Law and Domestic Partners

Domestic partnerships, known as civil unions in Connecticut, no longer exist as such in the state. In 2009, the ...

New York State No Fault Divorce Laws

Every state recognizes no-fault divorce, but that wasn't always the case. Until recently, if you wanted a divorce in ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED