Frequently Asked Questions

Answers from Our Des Moines Family Lawyer

With over 30 years experience as a litigation lawyer, and 8 years in the practice of family law, our skilled family law attorney at the Hill Law Firm PLC has helped hundreds of clients throughout Iowa and Texas. This experience has afforded our legal team an in-depth knowledge of the laws and a reputation for comprehensive legal counsel that is backed by our attorney’s numerous speeches, articles, and seminars.

If you do not find the answer to your question below, contact the Hill Law Firm PLC at (515) 599-6160 to receive personalized attention during a free initial consultation.

My spouse and I are considering divorce. How can we avoid additional headaches?

Divorce isn’t a solution that any couple comes into lightly. However, the court does favor couples who can agree to terms without the additional help and costs of prolonged legal battles. Collaborative law can help in these cases, allowing couples to save time and money to help ensure that you family gets back to as normal as possible, as soon as possible.

Our Des Moines family law attorney is trained in collaborative law and may be able to help you. Learn more by calling Hill Law Firm PLC today.

How much does it cost to file for divorce or a custody modification or to seek a protective order?

The State of Iowa requires a filing fee for most family law matters. For example the typical filing fee for a divorce is $185.00. However, there is no filing fee to file a Petition for Relief from Domestic Abuse. Iowa does allow a potential litigant to file a special affidavit asking the Court to defer the filing fee. Attorney fees are a negotiation item between the client and the attorney. The Hill Law Firm charges a reasonable middle of the road hourly fee for most family law matters. Credit cards are accepted and payment plans are available under certain circumstances.

Is it possible to file for divorce or file for a custody modification without hiring a lawyer?

Yes. You can file a divorce in Iowa without an attorney. You can find these forms on the Iowa Supreme Court website. The Iowa Courts’ website has forms for couples with children as well as the forms for couples with no children. You must use these forms to file a divorce in Iowa without an attorney. These forms are free to download or print. You should not pay for forms from other websites. The Hill Law Firm can discuss the use of these forms in a free consultation. Under the right circumstances, an attorney may negotiate a flat fee or a limited scope engagement to assist litigants use the free forms.

Does Iowa law address the circumstances where a parent removes a child to another state, or, what happens if one of the parents refuses to return the child from another state after a visitation period?

This is a jurisdiction question; another way to look at the term jurisdiction is “. . . having the legal power to act. Only one state at a time has the power (or jurisdiction) to issue a custody order. Usually the only state that has the power to make a custody decision for a child is the state where the child has lived most recently for at least 6 months. This is called the child’s “home state.”

If the child has lived in Iowa for the last six months, then Iowa is the child’s home state. If your spouse or the child’s parent takes the child to another state, the other state likely won’t have the power to issue a custody order until the child has lived in that other state for six months. Where a case can be filed is part of a legal term called “jurisdiction.”

My partner is abusive. How can I protect myself?

There are no excuses for domestic abuse and the court takes allegations very seriously. If you are being physically harmed or emotionally abused by someone in your household, a skilled family lawyer can help protect your best interests and those of your family, especially if children are involved. From restraining orders to helping the abusive individual into therapy or rehabilitation classes, do not suffer abuse in silence.

My situation has changed. Can I modify my agreements?

Whether you have lost your job, your child’s needs have changed, or your ex-spouse has remarried, the court allows for you to revisit your agreements to help create a new plan that may better fit your situation. To modify any terms, you and your ex must agree or a judge must agree that the modification is in your family’s best interest. A family lawyer can help you with this complicated procedure.