IowaAlimony Guide - Spousal Support Laws
Iowa Alimony Guide :: Table of Contents
What is Alimony?
Alimony, also known as spousal support, is a court-ordered provision of financial support a spouse for after a divorce. Alimony laws vary considerably from state to state, and courts often have significant flexibility on a case-by-case basis in determing whether to award alimony, how much alimony to award, and how long alimony payments will continue.
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How are Maintainance Orders Granted?
In the state of Iowa, during a dissolution of marriage or legal separation, a spouse may file for a maintenance order, otherwise known as alimony. The court may grant temporary or permanent maintenance award for a dependent spouse, the amount and length of time the maintenance continues is based on the courts decision. The court will not take into consideration marital misconduct, and the payments may be paid from the income or property of the other spouse dependent on the decision of the court.
The factors taken into consideration by the court include several main things, such as the standard of living established during the marriage, and the length of the marriage. The income and property of each party, including marital property distributed to each party and non-marital property assigned to the party seeking maintenance, and the needs of both parties are main factors in the decision of the court. Any impairment of the present or future earning ability of the party seeking maintenance due to time dedicated to domestic duties or the delay or education, training, employment, or career opportunities due to the marriage will also be taken into consideration. When deciding the length of time that payments will be required, the court will often consider the time needed to acquire training, education, or employment. The earning ability of both parties is considered, along with their age, and physical and mental health, which may affect their earning capabilities.
Other things taken into consideration are the tax consequences the property division has had on the monetary estate of both parties and the capability of the spouse from whom support is sought to afford payments as well as maintain their current standard of living. Any agreement the parties had made prior to the decision of the court pertaining to alimony payments will be affect the decision.
Custody of any children, and any child support required between parties of the divorce, are two other factors in the amount and consideration of alimony payments. If the custodian of the child or children is unable to support themselves due to the children being of an age or condition that hinders the individual’s ability to support the child, such as if the spouse must remain home to care for the child, it would severely influence the case for alimony to be received by the custodian of said child or children.
In the end, if an agreement cannot be made between the two parties, alimony is awarded at the final judgment of the judge and court deciding the case.
In the state of Iowa, a number of factors are taken into account when calculating the amount and duration of alimony or spousal support payments.
Is there a set list of statutory factors for calculating alimony?
Iowa has a defined list of factors, described in statutory law, that are legally required to be considered by a judge when determining alimony payments. These factors may be directly connected to the alimony calculation formula.
Is marital fault considered in Iowa alimony?
Iowa considers marital fault when determining alimony payments. This means that "at-fault" divorces, which may be caused by infidelity / adultery, abuse, etc, can result in the at-fault party paying more "punitive" alimony.
Is standard of living considered in Iowa alimony?
Standard of living is considered when calculating alimony payments in the state of Iowa. This means that a judge will consider the lifestyle enjoyed by the alimony-receiving spouse during the duration of the marriage when determining an appropriate alimony payment amount.
Is custodial status considered when determining alimony in the state of Iowa?
The judge in the state of Iowa considers custodial status when determining alimony payments. This means that alimony calculations are affected by whether or not the receiving spouse has custody of the children, and custodial spouses may receive higher alimony payments.
How exactly is alimony calculated in the state of Iowa?
Calculation of alimony is generally done on a case-by-case basis by the Iowa family court judge who is responsible for the case. While some states have a fixed alimony calculation formula, in most cases the final amount and duration of alimony awarded (if alimony is awarded) is at the discretion of the judge.
- How long must alimony be paid?
- The duration of payments is determined by a judge in Iowa family court. Alimony length is usually based on length of marriage - one commonly used standard for alimony duration is that 1 year of alimony is paid every three years of marriage (however, this is not always the case in every state or with every judge). Alimony may also be discontinued upon the remarriage or cohabitation of the receiving spouse. In some cases, judges may even award permanent alimony.
- What happens if alimony isn't paid?
- If alimony is unpaid, the owed debt is known as alimony arrears. Arrears can be collected via mediation, small claims court, or wage garnishment. Failure to comply with a court-issued spousal support order may also result in a contempt of court charge against the spouse who failed to pay owed alimony.
- Can alimony be waived by a prenuptual agreement?
- A prenup agreement is a contract between spouses regarding marriage-related financial matters signed prior to marriage. Limitation or waiving rights to alimony is a frequent clause in modern prenuptual agreements, but some states or localities prohibit such alimony waivers.
- Can alimony be collected if you're not married?
- The legal concept of alimony, otherwise known as spousal support, is dependant upon a legal marriage. However, in some areas - especially those with a concept of common-law marriage - "palimony", or support payments between non-married individuals, has been awarded by courts. However, this generally requires extenuating circumstances.
- What is alimony mediation?
When a marriage ends through divorce and alimony is expected to be paid, spouses have the choice to determine an alimony agreement either through litigation (in Iowa family court) or through mutual agreement. Often, a Iowa alimony mediator can be brought in to help the ex-spouses come to a mutual agreement regarding alimony and other contested issues such as property division, and thus avoid having to go to court.
- How are alimony payments taxed?
On a federal level, all qualifying Iowa alimony payments are deductible by the payor, and counted as taxable income by the recipient. To qualify as alimony under IRS guidelines, the following must be true:
- The payments are in cash
- The parties live in seperate households
- The payments are strictly for alimony (as opposed to for child support, etc)
Taxation of alimony varies on a state and local level. You can learn more about Iowa income taxes here .