Divorce and Family Law News: Together – Whether You Like It Or Not
In divorce cases, one tool of many adversarial spouses is conciliation counseling. The idea of conciliation counseling is to see whether the marriage is really over or whether a chance to save the marriage exists. Prior to the new law discussed below, one spouse sometimes used conciliation counseling to force the other spouse to stay married, prolong litigation and costs, or otherwise work to gain a tactical advantage.
Starting July 1, 2019, the Iowa Legislature largely ended forced couples counseling. Iowa judges now have much more latitude when a party requests conciliation counseling. Iowa Courts are now able to consider all relevant factors, including whether a history of abuse or violence exists. What "relevant factors" will mean over time is still a matter of speculation; however, the law truly allows judges the flexibility they need to treat each case with the precision and care necessary.
The relevant part of the modified Iowa Code Section 598.16(2):
The court may on its own motion or upon the motion of a party require the parties to participate in conciliation efforts for a period of sixty days or less following the issuance of an order setting forth the conciliation procedure and the conciliator. In making a determination under this section, the court shall consider all relevant factors including but not limited to whether a history of abuse or violence exists.
If you want more information on this month's edition or you have topics of interest, reach out to Tyler at 515-288-6041.
Research and drafting assistance provided by Elaina Steenson, Law Clerk, Whitfield & Eddy Law.
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