Parents have a legal obligation to support their minor children. This obligation shall continue for a child who is between the ages of eighteen and nineteen years who is engaged full-time in completing high school graduation or equivalency requirements in a manner which is reasonably expected to result in completion of requirements prior to the person reaching nineteen years of age; and may include support for a child of any age who is dependent on the parties because of physical or mental disability.
Iowa law requires that the amount of a parent's child support obligation be determined by applying uniform child support guidelines prescribed by the Iowa Supreme Court. The purpose of the guidelines is to provide for the best interests of the children by recognizing the duty of both parents to provide adequate support for their children in proportion to their respective incomes. An order may vary from the guideline amount only if the court finds such adjustment necessary to provide for the needs of the children and to do justice between the parties under the special circumstances of individual cases.
For more information see Iowa Code sections 598.1(9) and 598.21B.
Medical Support for a Child
Federal law requires states to:
- Address medical support (either health insurance or cash medical support) in all orders, including requiring either parent to provide medical support
- Redefine reasonable-cost medical support (no longer just if employment-related)
- Ensure health insurance is accessible
- Adopt a medical support hierarchy to decide which parent should provide medical support
Most medical support requirements can be found in Iowa Code section 252E.1A. The statute sets the standard for reasonable cost medical support at no more than 5% of a parent's gross income, but it also authorizes the Supreme Court to adopt a standard other than 5% in the child support guidelines. The Supreme Court chose to adopt an alternate standard for low-income parents. That standard is incorporated into the Medical Support Table in the new guidelines rules. It provides that reasonable cost medical support is either health insurance or cash medical payments that cost between zero and five percent of the parent's gross income.
Where to Send Child Support Payments
All child support payments must be sent to either the clerk of court office or the collection services center of the department of human services.
Do not send payments directly to the other parent. If you are in doubt as to the proper location for sending your payment, check your child support order.
If you have a question about a payment that is processed by the clerk of court office, you may check records online or go to the appropriate clerk of court office. Clerk of court offices do not provide case information over the telephone. If you have a question about a payment that is processed by the collections services center, you may call child support's 24-hour interactive voice response unit at 1-888-229-9223 (toll free nationwide).
Post Secondary Education Support
Iowa law provides that a court may order parents to pay certain college expenses of a child. This amount is referred to as a "post secondary subsidy." In determining whether to order this subsidy, the court shall consider the age of the child, the child's abilities, the child's financial resources, whether the child is self-sustaining, and the financial condition of each parent.
The amount of a court-ordered post secondary subsidy is based upon: (1) the reasonable cost of attending an in-state public institution for a course of study leading to an undergraduate degree and reasonable costs for only necessary postsecondary education expenses; and (2) the child's financial resources including the availability of financial aid and the child's ability to work while attending school.
After deducting the child's expected contribution, the court shall apportion the cost remaining among the parents. However, the amount paid by each parent shall not exceed thirty-three and one-third percent of the total cost of the post secondary education. The post secondary subsidy shall be paid to the child or the educational institution—not the custodial parent.
For more information see Iowa Code section 598.21F
Modification of Support Orders
The court may subsequently modify a child support order if there is a substantial change of circumstances. When determining whether a substantial change of circumstances has occurred, the court shall consider such factors as the following:
· Changes in the employment, earning capacity, income or resources of a party
· Receipt of an inheritance, pension or other gift
· Changes in the medical expenses of a party
· Changes in the number or needs of dependents of a party
· Changes in the physical, mental, or emotional health of a party
· Changes in the residence of a party
· Remarriage of a party
· Possible support of the party by another person
· Changes in the physical, mental, or educational needs of a child
· Contempt by a party of existing orders
For more information about modification of a child support order see Iowa Code sections 598.21C-D.
Getting a court to change a child support order can be very difficult. It is always best if you ask an attorney for assistance. If you cannot afford an attorney and you think you can handle it yourself, you can use the free forms and instructions that are available on this website.
Enforcement of Support Orders
Iowa law provides a number of measures for enforcing compliance with a child support order, including income withholding, garnishment, liens, and contempt of court. If a parent has not complied with a support order, it is the responsibility of the other parent to initiate steps to enforce. We suggest you consult with an attorney about appropriate action or contact the Child Support Recovery Unit in your area.
Child Support Recovery Unit
For information about state assistance with enforcing child support payments, contact the Child Support Recovery Unit office nearest you. For help determining which office and the phone number, call the 24-hour child support interactive voice response unit ) at: 1-888-229-9223 (toll free) or visit https://secureapp.dhs.state.ia.us/CustomerWeb/ for more information.
Custody and Support Disputes
Iowa law treats child support and child custody as separate matters. The law does not authorize or recognize the denial of visitation as a means for trying to compel support payments. Nor is it a defense to refuse to pay child support when the custodial parent violates a visitation order. Seek advice from an attorney about how to enforce your decree.
Mandatory Income Withholding for Support
A person ordered to pay child support is subject to income withholding except under certain circumstances. See Iowa Code section 252D.8.
Contesting an Income Withholding Order or Notice of Withholding
You may contest an income withholding order or notice issued under chapter 252D by filing a Motion to Quash with the clerk of court. There are only two grounds for contesting an order:
· An error in the amount of the withholding or the identity of the obligor, or
· The conditions under Iowa Code section 252D.8 for an exception to immediate income withholding existed at the implementation of the withholding.
· After receiving the motion, the clerk will mail copies to the parties and the court will set a hearing.
When You Have Paid in Full
Iowa law requires a party who is entitled to a judgment to acknowledge satisfaction of the judgment by execution of an instrument referring to it, duly acknowledged and filed in the clerk of court in every county where the judgment is a lien. A party who fails to do so within thirty days after receiving a written request shall be subject to a four hundred dollar ($400) penalty.