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Iowa Annulments
Annulments in Iowa

The full text of Iowa laws on annulment is found in Iowa Code, 598.28 through 598.32. Most laws for an annulment of marriage in Iowa are located in Chapters 598 and 595 of the state’s official code.

Grounds

Generally, annulments of marriage may be granted on the following grounds:

  • the marriage is prohibited by law;
  • either party was impotent at the time of marriage;
  • either party has a husband or wife living at the time of marriage, which is bigamy;
  • either party was a ward under guardianship and did not have capacity to contract a legal marriage.

Marriages otherwise prohibited by law that stand as grounds for an annulment of marriage in Iowa are located in sections 595.19 and 595.2.

Section 595.19, “Void Marriages,“ states that annulments must occur in marriages:

  • between a man and his sister, daughter, aunt, son’s daughter, daughter’s daughter, brother’s daughter, or sister’s daughter;
  • between a woman and her brother, son, uncle, son’s son, daughter’s son, brother’s son, or sister’s son;
  • between first cousins;

Section 595.2 concerning an annulment of marriage in Iowa provides guidelines for age and gender. Underage partners between the age of 16 and 17 may receive an annulment of marriage in Iowa if there was no consent from legal guardians or if either party falsely represented his or her age at the time of the ceremony.

Some of the laws listed above for an annulment of marriage in Iowa may not apply if relation exists through adoption.

Some of these grounds for annulment have additional conditions. For example, if one spouse had a first husband or wife when the parties married and that first partner dies, and the current spouses live together after the first partner’s death, the marriage won’t be annulled; and if current spouses continue to cohabit after the first marriage is dissolved, the current marriage will not be annulled.

If a spouse is under 18 at the time of the marriage and lies about it, the marriage will not be annulled unless the underage spouse wants to annul the marriage and proves the real age before his or her eighteenth birthday. A spouse who is 16 or 17 can still have a valid marriage if the parents consent and a judge approves. A person who marries at 16 or 17 after a judge approved the marriage over their parent’s objection is also not eligible to have their marriage annulled.

After an annulment, the former partners can say they were never legally married. In the action, the court can divide any property the partners have.

If fraud is involved - that is, if one partner lied to the other in order to make him or her believe that the marriage is valid - the judge can order the lying party to compensate the innocent spouse.

The court can still decide that the children are legitimate, so they can inherit from either parent and both parents must support them. Generally, the court orders that children from annulled marriages are legitimate unless one of the spouses proves that the children are not the biological children of both parents.

Procedure

The spouse filing for annulment is the petitioner; the other spouse is the respondent.

Either party must have lived in Iowa for the last year. The petition identifies the spouse who has lived in Iowa for at least a year and states the name, birth date, and address for both spouses as well as the date of the marriage, and the name and birth date for children, if any. The petition lists the legal grounds for annulment and states if the petitioner needs temporary support for himself or herself or any children.

A party seeking an annulment must complete the Petition for Annulment, file the paperwork with the clerk in the district court, serve the annulment papers on the other party, and set up and attend a hearing on the action.

At a hearing the petitioner explains the reasons the marriage should be annulled. If the court accepts the argument, the judge signs an order an annulling the marriage. The judge can also sign an order granting the annulment if the other spouse does not contest it.

All of the necessary forms can be located at the jurisdiction’s district court, and on the local court’s website. Additional forms must be completed to establish temporary orders for child support, spousal support, or other issues within annulments of marriages in Iowa.

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