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Serving Iowa Families Statewide

Do Child Support Obligations End at Age 18?

Supporting and raising a child remains the responsibility of both parents, even after their divorce. Iowa believes in putting the best interests of the child first and protecting the standard of living they enjoyed during their parents’ marriage is part of that.

By paying child support, the parent with the greater income helps to ensure the child has a similar standard of living with both parents. Generally, the non-custodial parent or the parent with the higher income pays child support to the other parent.

Iowa law requires child support to continue until the age of 18, but there are exceptions to the rule.

Paying Child Support After the Age of 18

Turning 18 may seem magical to the child, but there is nothing special about that birthday in terms of child custody. If your child is still in high school full-time or working toward earning their GED (high school equivalency diploma), support can continue until age 19.

Finishing high school is not the only reason support can be extended. Ongoing support can also be ordered for children of any age with a physical or mental disability who are dependent upon their parents.

Are Parents Required to Pay for College?

Not necessarily. At this point in the child’s life, the support is no longer called child support. Instead, parents can be ordered to pay a postsecondary education subsidy. The subsidy helps pay for certain college expenses and continues until the obligation is satisfied or the child drops out of school. Iowa law provides for possible college support through the age of 22.

Ending Child Support Before the Age of 18

Sometimes, significant changes can trigger grounds to end child support before the age of 18.

Reasons child support obligations can end early include the following:

  • Legal Emancipation of the Child
  • Marriage of the Child (Requires Parental Consent)
  • Different Paternity Is Established
  • Noncustodial Parent’s Income Drops Below Poverty Level
  • Changes in Custody

If you believe you have grounds for ending your child support obligations, contact Hope Law Firm to schedule a consultation.

How Are Child Support Amounts Determined?

When the courts determine the amount of child support to be paid, they consider many factors including the following:

  • Incomes of Both Parents
  • Number of Children
  • Mandatory Pension or Union Dues
  • Preexisting Child Support Payments
  • Child Care Expenses

Judges can deviate from the basic child support formula because of specific circumstances of the parents or needs of the child. To get an idea of how much child support you will pay, use the state’s convenient Iowa Child Support Estimator.

How Can I Modify My Child Support Obligation?

Child Support can be modified but is generally done so when significant changes happen for either parent or the child.

Events that could qualify for a change in child support (up or down) include the following:

  • Inheritance
  • New Medical Condition or Disability
  • Job Loss
  • Job Promotion
  • New Marriage
  • Additional Children
  • New Residence

Legal Help to for All Child Support Matters

No magic wand eliminates child support when your child gets their high school diploma. A court order remains in effect until it is legally terminated. Likewise, child support doesn’t automatically increase or decrease when circumstances change.

Whether you want to increase, decrease, or stop your child support order, an experienced attorney can make all the difference.

At Hope Law Firm, we take very seriously our job to fight for the best interests of Des Moines families. We have extensive experience in both negotiating and litigating on behalf of our clients. We work relentlessly toward the best possible outcome.

Speak with one of our attorneys about your child support order and potential options that align with the best interests of your children. Call (515) 305-2772 or use our online form to take the first step.