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Serving Iowa Families Statewide

Child Support Basics in an Iowa Divorce

Child custody and support are among the most emotional and challenging decisions that must be made in a divorce with minor children involved. Parents might have quite divergent opinions about what serves their children’s best interests.

Iowa law requires both parents to financially support their children, including their general welfare and medical support. Based on a mathematical formula and other factors, one parent pays child support to a receiving parent.

The divorce attorneys at the Hope Law Firm help parents fight for the child support they believe is necessary to best provide for their children.

Calculating Iowa Child Support

The overarching goal of child support is to provide financial stability for the child despite their parents no longer being together.

Iowa’s adopted guidelines are contained in Chapter 9 of the Iowa Court Rules. The Iowa Supreme Court has prescribed uniform child support according to the federal Family Support Act of 1988. Federal law requires the supreme court to review the guidelines every four years. Iowa guidelines were last updated effective Jan. 1, 2022.

Parents are expected to provide for their children relative to their income. Lower wage-earning parents will not be required to pay more than would enable them to provide for their own bare necessities.

The court looks at the following factors for the mathematical formula:

  • Number of Children for Support
  • Gross Income
  • State and Federal Taxes
  • Mandatory Pension or Union Dues
  • Other Child Support
  • Child Care Expenses
  • Health Insurance Premium
  • Cash Medical Support
  • Time the Child Spends with Each Parent

The child support guidelines also provide noncustodial parents with more than 127 days of visitation a credit to the noncustodial parent’s share of support.

The extraordinary visitation credit is given per the following schedule:

  • 128-147 Days: 15%
  • 148-166 Days: 20%
  • 167 Days or More: 25%

The court also has the authority to deviate from the standard child support on a case-by-case basis. Going outside the formula generally occurs to better provide for the child and create a fairer obligation between the parents.

Not technically child support, a post-secondary education subsidy can be ordered to help offset the cost of a child’s college education. The amount each parent pays will not exceed 33⅓% of the total cost. This subsidy is paid directly to the child or the educational institution, not the custodial parent.

Enforcing Child Support Payments

Child support is not sent directly to the other parent. Payments are made either to the clerk of court or the Child support Recovery Unit. If a parent does not pay the required child support payments, they will face fines and other penalties. They can have their wages garnished and be held in contempt of court, among other sanctions.

A parent can petition the court to modify an existing child support order if a substantial change in circumstances has occurred. The modification can be based on any new needs of the child or changes in income or other circumstances of either parent.

Intelligent Legal Counsel for Child Support Matters

Our attorneys at the Hope Law Firm understand the difficult and emotional decisions inherent in divorce and child custody issues. Our outstanding negotiation skills may be able to keep even contentious Iowa divorces out of court. When that’s not possible, we will use our extensive trial experience to aggressively argue for our client’s desired outcome.

If you need guidance for child custody or another divorce matter, talk with us about your situation. Request a free consultation online or by calling (515) 305-2772. We offer after-hour and weekend appointments upon request.