Official State of Iowa Website

Iowa State Court Rules 

Iowa courts decide family and juvenile law issues, property and contract issues, state criminal law issues and other many other types of cases.  If you are appearing before an Iowa state court, you will want to read the Iowa Rules of Court to learn how you must interact with the state court throughout your case.   

The Iowa Rules of Court are available through the Iowa General Assembly’s website.  The Iowa Judicial Branch website also links to the Iowa Court Rules, under the “For the Public” tab in the top toolbar. 

Which rules apply? 

Iowa has separate court rules for different types of cases.  Courts will use the Iowa Rules of Civil Procedure for cases such as family law issues, property or contract cases, and disputes between individuals.  For cases started by the county attorney involving a crime, the courts will use the Iowa Rules of Criminal ProcedureLegal-icon-unanswered-question.png  

The Iowa Rules of Juvenile Procedure are used for cases involving children.  Cases involving distribution of property after death or setting up guardianships or conservators for adults use the Iowa Rules of Probate Procedure.   For appeals to the Iowa Supreme Court or the Iowa Court of Appeals, you would consult the Iowa Rules of Appellate Procedure. 

For most of these cases, you would also use the Iowa Rules of Evidence to decide what information you can offer to support your position and the Iowa Rules of Electronic Procedure for how to file your case documents. 

The Iowa Rules of Court apply in all Iowa State courts. Individual courts can make more rules that only apply within that one court, known as “local court rules."  Local court rules often include extra details on the format and deadlines for documents within that court. Check the specific Court’s webpage to find local court rules.     

Finding Iowa court rules

The Iowa State Court Rules are organized into chapters that group rules by subject.  Each chapter starts with a detailed list of the rules, or “table of contents” which, again, groups related items together.   The subject arrangement means that the best way to find relevant court rules is to read the table of contents for the chapter you need. Icon of a judge with a gavel behind a bench with the scales of justice  

For example, if you are beginning a lawsuit against someone, you should look at the table of contents for the Rules of Civil Procedure. The second Division discusses the parties you can include in the lawsuit.  The third Division walks through the steps to start the lawsuit.  The fourth Division describes the kinds of documents to file, how to format those documents, and the deadlines for filing the documents. 

You can also find Iowa State Court Rules using the search options on the Iowa General Assembly’s webpage.  You can use a quick search in the upper right corner from the main Iowa Court Rules page.   If you choose “Search the Iowa Court Rules” link in the center of the page, the website will load the Main Search with the search limited to Iowa Laws & Rules>Court Rules in the left column.  If you click into the “Advanced Search” above the left column, you will need to reset the Iowa Laws & Rules >Court Rules limit before using the search boxes on the right. 

For help using the Iowa General Assembly’s search options, check out video tutorials created by the Legislative Service Agency and Drake Law Library.