Where To Find Family Court Records In Iowa?
Public records containing information on court proceedings in family cases are referred to as family court records. In Iowa, the District Court has general jurisdiction over juvenile and family matters. There is a district court present in each county in the eight judicial districts. These records are produced by the courts, stored electronically and physically, and maintained in courthouses where the cases were handled. Members of the public can typically access family court records in these courthouses or by using remote mediums provided by the courts.
The records contained in documents related to family court include both marriage and divorce records. Both types of records contain information that is considered very personal to the parties involved. It is recommended that those parties maintain these records with care to make changes in the future. The personal nature of these records results in both being considerably more difficult to find and obtain when compared to other types of public records. In many cases, these records are not available through either government sources or third party public record websites.
What Is Family Law In Iowa?
Iowa’s family laws, or codes, consist of courts’ legislations and rules to resolve family cases. The laws are established under Title XV - Judicial Branch and Judicial Procedures and divided into chapters. These chapters address the various family case types and are further subdivided into sections, namely:
Chapter 598: Dissolution of marriage and domestic relations
Chapter 598B: Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act
Chapter 598C: Uniform Deployed Parents Custody and Visitation Act
Chapter 600: Adoption
Chapter 600A: Termination of parental rights
Chapter 600B: Paternity and obligation for support
Chapter 600C: Grandparent visitation
Chapter 674: Change of names
What Are Family Court Cases And Records In Iowa?
Dissolution of marriage, adoption, paternity, termination of parental rights, child/spousal support, child custody, and juvenile delinquency are some of the cases handled by the family courts in Iowa. Also included are Child in Need of Assistance (CINA) cases that involve abused, neglected, and abandoned children. Family court records are the documentation of proceedings carried out while resolving these cases. Generally, these records bear case-related information such as the transcripts, final judgments, decrees, orders, notices, decisions, and docket sheets.
Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for a specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:
- The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
- The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that the person resides or was accused in.
Third-party sites are independent of government sources and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.
Are Family Court Cases Public Records In Iowa?
Yes, family court case records are available for public inspection and viewing in Iowa, as per the Iowa Open Records Law. This law permits anyone to request to copy or view court records from the Clerk of Court’s office in the courthouses or through remote platforms maintained by the courts. Iowans are charged 50 cents per page for copy requests. The Clerk of Court may assess other fees, such as postage and staff time. However, there are statutory exceptions to the types of family court records that may be obtained by the public. Under §22.7, some records may be sealed from public view. These individuals include the defendants/plaintiffs, minors, informants, and crime victims. Examples of records/information that may be sealed by statute or the family courts include:
- Juvenile records
- Medical histories/records
- Identifying numbers (financial, social security, driver’s license, taxpayer-identification numbers, and others)
- Paternity records
- Identifying information such as the name of minors, dates of birth, and home addresses.
Only parties such as the records subjects, representing attorneys, immediate family, approved court personnel, and authorized agencies may be allowed access to sealed or confidential records. Still, other parties with valid court orders may be granted access provided they show good cause.
How Do I Find Family Court Records In Iowa?
All paper records of family cases are kept in district courthouses located in the county of filing. The Clerk of Court processes all records and inspection requests. There is usually a fee assessed on a per-page basis to procure copies. Interested parties may use the Court Directory to find the appropriate courts’, contact details, and addresses, including the Clerk of Court’s information. Alternatively, the requester may use public terminals located in the courthouses to obtain these records.
Divorce and marriage records may be available through government sources and organizations, though their availability cannot be guaranteed. This is also true of their availability through third-party websites and companies, as these organizations are not government-sponsored, and record availability may vary further. Finally, marriage and divorce records are considered extremely private due to the information they contain and are often sealed. Bearing these factors in mind, record availability for these types of records cannot be guaranteed.
How Do I Find Family Court Records Online?
Statewide online access to family court records is available using the Iowa Court Online Search. Individuals may search for a case by name or ID, or more elaborately, by using the Advanced Search. The searcher is required to have a username and password to use the advanced search featured by the court. Registration information needed to create an account includes a username, password, name (first and last), an email, and a subscription plan. Concerning the plan, searchers may pick the number of months they wish to subscribe for, ranging from 1 month to 3 years. Subscriptions for each month costs $25. Information required to complete a search and obtain results includes the party’s full name (first, middle, and last), case type, role in the case, and the case ID.
What Is Iowa Custody Law?
Child custody and visitation matters in paternity, divorce, and adoption cases are resolved under the Iowa Custody Laws. Title XV - Judicial Branch and Judicial Procedures establishes rules for handling these cases, specifically in the Dissolution of marriage and domestic relations, Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, and Uniform Deployed Parents Custody and Visitation Act chapters.
In Iowa, parents involved in custody cases may either have sole or equal rights to make decisions on a child’s activities, health care, and living arrangements. Family court judges consider joint custody requests with §598.41(2)a of the Iowa Code. Among considerations included in the law are whether:
- Both parents can communicate on matters concerning the child
- There is a domestic abuse history
- The parents will be fitting custodians
In addition, the parents’ geographical proximity to each other is also considered. Parents who violate or fail to comply with custody orders may be imprisoned for up to 30 days. The law also addresses custody or visitation order modifications under §598.21C. In these cases, the judge considers modifications based on employment, earning capacity, and income factors, as well as changes in the health, marital status, or residence of the petitioning party.
How To Find Family Court Lawyers In Iowa?
Certain family cases, especially those involving custody, support, and divorce, may be complex and it is advisable to consult with a lawyer to prevent inopportune outcomes. In Iowa, family court lawyers can be found using the Find a Lawyer online referral tool provided by the Iowa State Bar Association. Using this service, members of the public may search for lawyers by county or city. Additional filters include languages spoken, industry codes, and additional services (hospital visits, jail calls, etc). The Iowa State Bar Association also offers free or low-income legal help and resources to Iowans.