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Serving Iowa Families Statewide

What to Do When Your Ex Won’t Pay Court-Ordered Child Support

children waiting for child support

Child Support Length & Parent Obligations

According to Iowa Law, parents are legally obligated to support their minor children. Typically, this support ends at 18, but if the child is still a full-time high school student (or working towards the equivalent of a high school diploma), this obligation is extended through their eighteenth year. Additionally, the responsibility is further extended to adult children dependent on their parents due to a physical or mental disability.

When a child’s parents separate or divorce, their obligation to support their children remains the same. Both parents are expected to contribute to the upbringing of their children, regardless of custody. Typically, the non-custodial parent will be ordered to pay child support to the custodial parent. Child support is incredibly important, and court orders to pay child support are legally binding. In Iowa, child support payments are sent to the court office clerk or Child Support Recovery Unit collection centers of the Iowa Department of Human Services. Child support payments are not sent to the custodial parent directly.

What Child Support Can Be Used For

When determining child support, the courts consider what is in the best interest of the child. The goal of child support is to ensure that the child’s needs are met in the same manner as they would be had their parents not separated. Child support can be used for a wide range of needs related to the upbringing of the child. These uses include, but are not limited to, housing, food, clothing, health care expenses, and educational expenses.

When calculating child support, the courts will take the following into account:

  • The age and number of children in question
  • The visitation and custody agreement between the parents
  • The non-custodial parent’s gross and net monthly income
  • Any other existing court-orders, such as spousal support or medical orders
  • Any other dependents that the non-custodial parent is responsible for
  • Medical and/or any special needs of the child
  • Educational expenses
  • Other childcare expenses

This is an oversimplified look at how the courts calculate child support. No child support case is the same, and the courts take a holistic approach when making their determinations. Click here to view the full Iowa State Child Support Guidelines.

What to Do When Your Child’s Parent Withholds Child Support

When someone doesn’t comply with their child support court order, the other parent is responsible for initiating enforcement. Enforcing a child support order can be accomplished by applying for enforcement through the Child Support Recovery Unit (CSRU). As part of the Iowa Department of Human Services, CSRU offers valuable services to Iowa families to ensure that families receive the child support they need. If your ex is not paying their court-ordered child support,

common enforcement methods include:

  • Wage garnishment
  • Income withholding
  • Bank account levies
  • Passport sanctions
  • License levies
  • Tax refund withholding
  • Contempt of court

Read more in our newsletter about the repercussions of missing child support payments.

Why You Should Work with a Lawyer

Child support laws can be complex, and even with the help of CSRU, the government still recommends working with an attorney when seeking a child support enforcement action. A skilled lawyer can help you determine which method of enforcement is the best option for your situation. Additionally, in some cases, you may wish to seek a child support modification instead of enforcement, especially if court enforcement is unlikely to resolve the issue.

At Hope Law Firm, we understand how delicate child support issues can be. We are committed to helping families through these challenges. If you are struggling with a child support matter and need help with enforcement, reach out to our lawyers for help today.