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
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
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
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
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/childsupport/welcome.asp
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
Contesting an Income Withholding Order or Notice
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
When You've 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 very 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
$100 penalty plus reasonable attorney fees incurred by the requesting party.