Family Law

Divorce (aka Dissolution of Marriage)

Dissolution of marriage involves many issues, including the following:

  1. Division of marital property, a.k.a. property settlement;
  2. Child custody
  3. Child support
  4. Child visitation and parenting plans
  5. Spousal support
  6. Interpretation and application of premarital agreements

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Protective Orders are meant to be protective. As a result, if an abuser ignores the order, the abuser can be arrested immediately. Only the judge can change the terms of the order so if you no longer feel you want the order, you must ask the court to change or stop the order. Orders from the judge can last up to one year and can be extended for another year only if the petitioner asks for the extension. The Iowa Protective Order Notification for Domestic Abuse Program (IPONDA) is a free and confidential telephone service that provides petitioners two important features: information and notification.

VINE Protective Order program overview

Child Custody

Child custody can be determined in an initial petition, or in a subsequent modification. Child custody is generally determined based on the best interests of the child. Accordingly, someone seeking primary physical care of the child should retain an attorney to convincingly argue the facts in his or her favor.


Child Support

In general, child support is not negotiable in Iowa. Instead, child support is determined according to a formula prescribed by the courts. We call this the "Iowa Child Support Guidelines." The guidelines are regularly revised and subject to changes in the tax laws and case law. Therefore, it is important to have an attorney review any proposed child support guidelines worksheets in order to identify where child support may be understated, or overcharged.


Premarital agreements, a.k.a. prenuptial agreements, are effective planning tools for people considering marriage, especially where either party may currently own, or is expected to own, meaningful assets, including real estate, business and farm assets. People should not be hesitant or reluctant to draft a premarital agreement simply because of the perception it might create. Premarital agreements are necessary tools in today's legal and economic climate.


Attorney Stephen Swift is an experienced attorney and mediator. Parties in divorce are free to choose their own mediator. Further, divorcing couples may decide that multiple mediation sessions are appropriate, even with different mediators.