Divorce and Family Law

Whether planning ahead, working through an amicable situation, or addressing complex family challenges,  the Dickinson Divorce and Family Law attorneys will work with you to understand your unique situation.  Our professionals are strong, compassionate, and skilled in all of the legal facets of divorce and family matters in Iowa.  Our lawyers are skilled at not only litigating contested matters but also effectively negotiating settlements.  We take the time to get to know you and tailor our representation to address your needs every step of the way.

Our team is well versed in a variety of practice areas including:

We Understand and we are here to help you.

Divorce

Dissolving a marriage is a painful and emotional process and we empathize with our clients dealing with the distress involved with divorce.  Dickinson's family law attorneys will work with you to achieve the best possible result in protecting your assets, dispensing of your debts after divorce, and - especially - providing for your children.  Your interests and goals are important to us.  Dickinson's family law attorneys are recognized as leading Iowa practitioners in family law and have substantial experience in handling complex issues, negotiating divorce settlements, and protecting your assets and children.

Alimony

Alimony is a stipend to a spouse in lieu of the other spouse's legal obligation for support.  Whether a court decides to award alimony depends on the circumstances of each particular case.  Dickinson's family law attorneys are knowledgeable in the laws concerning alimony and will work with you to analyze the facts and circumstances of your individual case to support or refute an alimony claim.  We will assess your monthly expenses and engage experts to prepare charts that may aid in presenting your case in the best possible manner.

Property Division

Iowa is an equitable division state, which means courts will apportion property and debts fairly to divorcing parties.  However, an equitable division does not necessarily mean an equal division of the assets and debts.  Courts will award property based several factors.  Dickinson's family law attorneys will work with you to analyze the facts of your individual case in relation to the foregoing factors.  Depending on your circumstances, we may engage in the discovery process ' including formal written discovery and taking and defending depositions ' in order to classify and value marital property.  Our attorneys will determine whether an argument can be made as to whether a spouse has dissipated assets, and we will assist in dividing retirement plans and pensions and in valuing businesses.  We will ensure that all issues involved in dividing your assets and debts are taken into consideration and that your needs are met every step of the way.

Child Custody

As stressful as divorce is to parents, it is often much more so for the children.  Dickinson's family law attorneys are sensitive to our clients' desires to protect the best interests of their children, creating custody arrangements that are the best for their newly-defined family. Iowa defines custody in two ways - physical and legal.  Families frequently confuse the difference between legal custody and physical custody.  Legal custody refers to a parent's rights and responsibilities with regard to decisions affecting the child's legal status, medical care, education, extracurricular activities, and religious instruction.  Physical custody, on the other hand, refers to the right and responsibility to maintain the principal home of the child and provide for the routine care of the child.  We will listen to your needs and work with you on all of the issues associated with custody.  Occasionally, we may engage a custody expert to perform a custody evaluation that may be helpful to a judge.  Our attorneys may also request that the court appoint a guardian ad litem or an independent attorney to represent your child.  Whatever the process, we always keep your interests and those of your children front and center.

Child Support

We understand your commitment to ensuring that your children are provided for and supported.  Iowa recently uses the pure income shares method of calculating child support, which provides specific guidance for parents as to what child support shall be depending on the combined incomes of the parties.  If you are a noncustodial parent whose visitation exceeds a certain number of overnights, you may be eligible for an extraordinary visitation deduction.  If you can demonstrate a legal obligation to support other children, you may be entitled to the Qualified Additional Dependent Deduction.  There are also specific methods for taking into account individuals with fluctuating income, business expenses, overtime pay or a second job. Dickinson's family law attorneys analyze clients' paystubs, tax returns, and W-2 information to calculate child support accurately and fairly. 

Premarital Agreements

Dickinson's family law attorneys will work with you to prepare a premarital agreement that is consistent with Iowa law and contains effective language that will protect your assets and interests.Iowa premarital agreements may include provisions related to:

  • Property rights and obligations of the parties
  • Rights of disposing of, managing and controlling property
  • Disposition of property upon death or divorce
  • Making of wills, trusts, and other arrangements to carry out the provisions of the agreement
  • Disposition of life insurance death benefits
  • Choice of law
  • Any other matter not in violation of public policy or a criminal statute

However, provisions that may be interpreted as prohibiting alimony or restricting a child's ability to obtain support are contrary to public policy and are void.

Adoption

Adoption is an emotional process, and Dickinson's family law attorneys understand the ups and downs you may have been through in your efforts to adopt a child.  Our Iowa based attorneys will help you file a thorough and accurate adoption petition, assist in the termination of parental rights if necessary, and ensure that all placement investigations and reports are completed.  We will also conduct the adoption hearing and prepare the adoption decree that will finalize your parenting rights and responsibilities.