Divorce & Annulment in Iowa: What`s the Difference?

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Various legal terms are often confusing to people without specialized education, and this can lead to misunderstandings. For example, if a person is considering getting a divorce in Iowa, they can overhear about annulment and think it may sound better.

So, it is important to understand the differences between these terms as they have quite different meanings. Considering that the state of Iowa can grant both divorce and annulment, this article may come in handy for people who are not quite sure of the legal details that distinguish these procedures.

Basic Differences

Let’s start with divorce. This process is about ending a marriage through a legal dissolution and official termination of a completely valid marriage. In the end, divorce ends a marriage, and both partners are declared to be single.

Annulment is quite different. This legal process is about declaring the marriage null and void, meaning that it is considered to have never existed in the first place. In the case of annulment, marriage is basically erased as an illegitimate one. As it is possible to see, both terms have dramatically different meanings. That is why knowing more about each is important if you are looking for a dissolution of marriage.


Iowa is known as the “no-fault” state, meaning that one partner does not have to provide any solid reasons why the marriage failed – stating that it is irretrievably broken is enough. Divorce is the most common type of legal separation and branches into two categories: contested and uncontested.

A contested divorce is the rough scenario often portrayed in the media. When partners cannot reach an agreement on their own, the court steps in to take matters into its own hands. This is where both parties’ lawyers present their facts for the court to decide what divorce terms can be considered fair.

An uncontested divorce is a much less stressful option. It is applicable when both spouses can sort out their differences without involving the court. Often, such cases are handled by couples without an attorney if they manage to settle things such as child custody, property division, and spousal support.

They can even do divorce papers by themselves to avoid additional costs. In cases of DIY divorce, online divorce paperwork preparation services come in handy. The online platform automatically prepares papers for filing for divorce for a low price based on a simple questionnaire.


This procedure is quite interesting and drastically different from divorce. Considering that couples seeking annulment are applying for basically erasing the marriage from existence, requirements are specific.

The state of Iowa recognizes several reasons that can be used to validate the annulment process:

  • Incestuous relationship – you and your partner are related by blood;
  • Either spouse was impotent;
  • Either spouse was underage;
  • You or your spouse were legally incompetent and under the guardianship of someone;
  • Bigamy – you or your spouse were married to someone else at the time.

As is possible to see, these conditions are quite different from those presented in the divorce process. Still, there are some additional details to be considered.

In Iowa, if one spouse was married to another person during the time of marriage and the other person dies, this does not qualify for an annulment. Furthermore, an annulment cannot be granted if partners live together after their previous marriages are dissolved. As for the underage spouse who lied to their partner prior to marriage, annulment is not an option unless the said underaged person proves their actual age before turning 18.

Additional Thoughts on Both Procedures

Clearly, divorce and annulment are very different in the state of Iowa. The first procedure can be complicated or easy to do without an attorney. Couples can even begin their divorce over the Internet while making it fast and inexpensive.

As for the annulment, the situation differs a lot. Getting a marriage void and null is a step often taken by partners who came together under really untraditional circumstances. That’s why annulment of marriage is a rather rare procedure that requires lots of preparation and court hearings.

Final Word

If you are seeking to end a marriage but are not sure what to do, this article is a great place to start your research. Iowa has some clear distinctions between divorce and annulment so consider these when making any decision. If you are confused about your particular case, it might be better to seek legal advice. However, online divorce is also quite effective for both divorce and annulment if partners can manage their differences regarding property rights and child custody without an attorney.