May 6, 2014. The court can make couples attend marriage counseling before their divorce is allowed. Iowa law says the court or one of the parties can ask the judge to order counseling for 60 days. The counselor must then file a written report with the court describing the steps taken during counseling. This process can include referrals to marriage counselors, family service agencies, community health centers, physicians and clergy.
The law is silent as to whether the parties have to attend counseling together. This silence allows a party to ask to attend separately, particularly in cases of domestic abuse. The costs must be paid by the parties and is taxed as court costs. The law does allow the court to tax the costs to the county if the parties are unable to pay without prejudicing their financial ability to provide for themselves and their minor children.
The application for conciliation services can be filed with the petition or filed separately during the dissolution process. The majority of couples waive this opportunity because they do not think the services will help. However, this is an option available to those who feel they may benefit.