Iowa Child Support Laws

Child Support Laws in the state of Iowa

Everything you need to know about Child Support Laws in Iowa, updated for 2022.

Here are the important bits you need to know about Iowa child support guidelines and how they affect your family.

Iowa child support guidelines place the responsibility of child care on both parents.

How is child support calculated in Iowa?

Like in many states, Iowa’s Department of Human Services provides an estimator that can help you approximate your obligation. However, the estimates, as it says on the estimator’s page. Vary depending upon a bevy of factors.

Typically, factors such as:

  • The monthly net income of the non-custodial parent.
  • The number of children from the marriage or union.
  • Overnights the child spends with the non-custodial parent.
  • The amount of alimony paid.
  • Monthly net income of the non-custodial parent.
  • And the paying parent’s children.

All come into play when awarding child support. Though, it is up to the judge to decide a fair amount.

How does the judge determine child support payment in Iowa?

Iowa state laws require that a judge uses the Iowa Schedule of Basic Support Obligation to figure parental support amounts. See the snippet below for minimum child support. Find the full schedule here.

The Schedule of Child Support Oblgations

Iowa schedule of basic support obligation.

After deciding an amount, the judge will order the non-custodial parent to start making payments via debit or credit card, checking or savings accounts, on-demand accounts, or PayNearMe.

Therefore, if you are the custodial parent, request child support here or call 1-888-229-9223. Here are the forms you need.

Overall, support in Iowa is based on the combined net incomes of both parents. Additionally, Other factors that might affect your parental responsibility include the cost of health insurance and other reasonable and proper child care expenses.

For clarity, present your situation to a family court attorney.

It is worth noting that deductions such as charity, union payments, car payments, and such, do not apply.

Is child support mandatory in Iowa?

Yes, according to state law, child support is mandatory. However, in Iowa, a judge has the authority to terminate parental responsibility. If that happens, you will lose all rights and financial responsibility to your child.

Furthermore, Section 232.116 of Iowa’s Juvenile justice guidelines say that grounds for parental rights termination are:

  • Parents agree to “Voluntary and intelligent consent to termination.”
  • Neglect or sexual abuse.
  • No significant meaningful contact between the child and his/her parents for at least 6 months.
  • A parent has a chronic mental illness.

Find the full list here.

Generally, to terminate parental responsibility in Iowa, the guardian/parent must petition the court for termination.

Another option to end child support is to reconcile and start living with your partner.

How to modify child support in Iowa

According to the Department of Human Services, CSRU (Child Support Recovery unit) allows parents to modify child support on condition that.

One, you must pay child support (court order), two, you are supposed to get child support payments, and three, you have a right to get child support payments in the future.

To begin the process, you are required to fill this form.

If one of the parents is in a different state, you may have to PAY fees and other charges.

What is important to remember is that the parent petitioning for modification must demonstrate to the court that there has been a “substantial change in circumstances”.

What does this mean?

A substantial change in circumstances refers to any situation that drastically alters your earning capacity, ability to pay, or the child’s day to day: for example,

  • The growing needs of a child.
  • Inheritance and pensions.
  • New kids.
  • Changes in parental residence.
  • Remarriage.
  • Changes in earning capacity (incarceration, disability, etc.)

If you feel that a recent modification is unfair, the law allows either parent to contest the judge’s or CSRU’s decision.

What happens if you do not pay child support in Iowa?

Iowa child support guidelines provide remedies designed to force delinquent parents to honor their obligation. Usually what happens is, the custodial parent informs the court or CSRU. If that happens, the enforcement body will or may:

  1. Obtain an “income withholding order” forcing the delinquent parent’s employer to garnish child support directly from paycheck or wages
  2. Credit bureau reporting; will affect your mortgage, credit score, and trustworthiness with lenders.
  3. If the amount of back child support exceeds $2500, the delinquent parent’s passport may be denied or revoked.
  4. The imposition of liens on House or land.
  5. Bank account garnishing.

initiate contempt charges

If a parent in Iowa is found in contempt, CSRU will use state and federal resources to track you down. Traditionally they use financial institution data match, centralized employee registry, Iowa department of workforce development, state parent locator, and or federal parent locator.

The good news is imprisonment is often the court’s last resort. But, time behind bars, is, time behind bars, meaning, getting incarcerated will affect you financially, socially, and you may even lose your job.

Regardless, failure to pay child support in Iowa will result in a warrant for the arrest of the payor. Furthermore, your professional, recreational, or driver’s license will either be suspended, revoked, or denied.

Depending on circumstances, you may also be ordered to do community service, pay fines, or face jail time.

Generally, it is in your best interest to contact CSRU, the receiving parent, or court, once you know that you will not be able to meet your obligation.

Remember, CSRU will push for contempt charges after exhausting all its options.

 Lastly, the enforcing body may push for criminal charges under Iowa Code Section 233 and 726 if it finds that a parent willfully and willingly failed to pay child support.

Is there a statute of limitations on arrears in Iowa?

Currently, there is no statute of limitations on back child support in Iowa. However, the law requires that paternity be established before the “age of majority.”

When does child support end in Iowa? Child Support after 18

Although the age of emancipation in Iowa is 18. Payments may continue until the child is 19 if he or she is still in high school. Also, as we previously mentioned, if the child is disabled either mentally or physically, payments may continue indefinitely.

Accordingly, if the child drops out of high school, your parental obligation may end if the terms of the court order or agreement are met.

Does child support automatically end in Iowa?

No, according to Iowa child support guidelines. Payments end when the non-custodial parent files a legal petition to terminate support.

What about emancipation?

If you are 16 or above and can demonstrate to the court that you are self-dependent. Iowa state laws allow you to free yourself from your parents via emancipation.

Note that once you get emancipated, your parents have no legal obligation to support you either financially or emotionally. However, emancipation does not affect other laws such as the drinking age.

Therefore, think long and hard before you go down this road.

That said. To prove your case for emancipation, you must show the court:

  • Financial independence.
  • Demonstrate to the court why your current home is not a safe healthy environment.
  • Live on your own for at least 3 months.

Overall, child support decisions are made on a case to case basis, meaning, consult with a family court attorney in your area for deeper insight. But remember, legally, child support is mandatory and failure to pay will result in punitive or collective actions.

If you have additional questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to a local family law lawyer for a free case consultation.

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