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Iowa Marital Property Laws

You're getting married. You're thinking of the perfect wedding and the perfect dinner. The furthest thing from your mind is which one of you might get that perfect dining room table you buy in a few months. While nobody wants to start thinking about how their possessions will be divided in a divorce before they even get married, what happens if that does happen, and then it comes down to a judge deciding who gets what? This is and introduction to marital property laws in Iowa.

Marital Property Law

As a legal concept, marital property refers to all the possessions and interests acquired after a couple gets married. Some states recognize the concept of "community property," under which all marital property is considered equally owned, and is therefore equally divided after a divorce. The majority of states, like Iowa, have no community property laws, which can allow for more flexibility in property division in a divorce, but can result in more uncertainty as well.

Marital Property Laws in Iowa

Not all state marital property laws are the same. The chart below lists the details of Iowa's marital property statutes.

Community Property Recognized?


Dower And Curtesy

Curtesy abolished (§633.238); dower abolished (§633.211)

Marital Property and Separate Property

Normally, any property a couple buys or receives during their marriage becomes marital property, regardless of who purchases it. Because this marital property is jointly owned, it will get jointly divided if a couple gets divorced. On the other hand, if one spouse owns property before the marriage, that property is treated as separate property and is not subject to the same division in a divorce. There is some property, like an inheritance or a gift, that will be considered separate property even if a spouse received it during the marriage.

If soon-to-be exes can come to their own agreement regarding property division, most courts will accept it during divorce proceedings. Because Iowa has no community property statutes, spouses without such an agreement will usually rely on a court or a judge to determine a "fair" property division. Generally, fair is an even split of all the property the couple owned jointly. But it is possible that a court could decide an unequal property split is what would be fair in that situation.

Iowa Marital Property Laws: Related Resources

Divorce, and property issues that might ensue, can be difficult, both legally and emotionally. You can find additional articles and resources in FindLaw's section on Divorce and Property. You can also consult with an Iowa divorce attorney if you would like legal advice regarding a divorce issue.

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