Iowans will be paying more for a divorce, the filing of a small claims case and other court proceedings if Governor Culver signs a bill into law. The measure, approved by lawmakers during the final hours of the legislative session, would increase the cost of filing a petition for divorce from $100 to $185.
Fees for a host of other common court activities would double. Iowa Bar Association President Dan Moore says the courts need the added funds to avoid more furlough days and restrictions on travel for judges. “No one likes to see an increase of any kind, but the thing that was hurting the citizens of Iowa the greatest was not having access to justice,” Moore said.
The fee increases would also put Iowa more in line with the court costs paid in neighboring states. Moore says, currently, Iowa’s filing fees are lower than those in Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, Minnesota and Wisconsin. The last increase in Iowa’s court costs was approved in 2002. The change in fees would likely raise between 15 and 16 million dollars a year.
Moore says the judicial branch would receive up to $12.5 million, while 2.1 million dollars would be directed at the drug courts. The remaining revenue would finance victims assistance grants and benefit public safety agencies. A spokesperson for Chet Culver says the governor is still reviewing the bill.
The final day he can sign the bill is May 26th. Moore, who works as a lawyer in Sioux City, says the increased fees would take effect immediately after the bill becomes law.