IowaChild Support Laws
Iowa Child Support Guide :: Table of Contents
Child support is an ongoing payment by a non-custodial parent to assist with the financial support of their children. Child support payments are often determined during the process of dissolution of a marriage through divorce, though the only requirements for requesting child support payments are establishment of paternity and maternity.
Child support is handled on a state level, and Iowa has a set of specific child support guidelines. On this page you can learn about how child support is calculated in Iowa, how custody split and extraordinary costs affect child support payments, and more.
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Iowa uses the "income share" method for calculating child support payments, which is designed to ensure that both the custodial and non-custodial parents contribute to their child's upkeep.
Iowa's child support formula directly accounts for parents who share custody of a child, and support payment amounts are connected to the custody split. Other special situations accounted for under Iowa's child support law include childcare costs and college costs. These costs may be additions to the basic Iowa child support order.
How are the Child Support Guidelines Applied?It is also the intent of the general assembly that in the supreme court's review of the guidelines, the supreme court shall do both of the following:
- emphasize the ability of a court to apply the guidelines in a just and appropriate manner based upon the individual facts of a judgment or case
- in determining monthly child support payments, consider other children for whom either parent is legally responsible for support and other child support obligations actually paid by either party pursuant to a court or administrative order.
If following the proceedings under section 600B.41A the court determines that the prior determination of paternity should not be overcome, and that the established father has a duty to provide support, the court shall enter an order establishing the monthly child support payment and the amount of the support debt accrued and accruing pursuant to subsection 4, or the medical support obligation pursuant to chapter 252E, or both.
Child support can be arranged out of court by a mutual support agreement between the parents, or can be decided in Iowa family court through a child support order. In Iowa, a number of factors are taken into account when determining the amount of child support to be paid in court. Here is an explanation of the two most common methods used to calculate basic child support amounts.
Income Share Method
Under the income share model, the court uses economic tables to estimate the total monthly cost of raising the children. The non-custodial parent pays a percentage of the calculated cost that is based on their proportional share of both parents' combined income.
Example: The non-custodial parent of one child has an income of $2,000 per month, and the custodial parent has an income of $1,000 per month. The court estimates that the cost of raising one child is $1,000 a month. The non-custodial parent's income is 66.6% of the parent's total combined income. Therefore, the non-custodial parent pays $666 per month in child support, or 66.6% of the total child support obligation.
Percentage Of Income Method
This method of calculating child support is simple - a set percentage of the non-custodial parent's income is paid monthly to the custodial parent to cover basic child support expenses. The percentage paid may stay the same, or vary if the non-custodial parent's income changes.
Example: The non-custodial parent of one child has an income of $2,000 per month. The court orders a flat percentage of 25% of the non-custodial parent's income to be paid in child support to the custodial parent. Therefore, the non-custodial parent pays $500 per month in child support. If the non-custodial parent's monthly income changes, the dollar amount they pay in child support will change as well.
Iowa Child Support FAQ
- How does having shared custody of the child affect child support in Iowa?
- How are extraordinary medical costs treated by child support in Iowa?
- How are child care costs treated by child support in Iowa?
- Does child support cover college education expenses in Iowa?
- How is child support enforced in Iowa?
- What are child support arrears?
- How are child support payments taxed in Iowa?
How does having shared custody of the child affect child support in Iowa?
All states have a method of modifying the amount of child support owed in cases where the custody agreement provides for joint or shared custody of a child between both parents.
Iowa law accounts for shared custody of a child directly in the child support formula used to calculate payment amounts. This means that, in cases where custody is shared, the amount of child support paid by the paying parent will be reduced according to the amount of time they have custody of the child.
How are extraordinary medical costs treated by child support in Iowa?
Unlike most states, Iowa has no special provisions for extraordinary medical costs in their child support guidelines. The cost of medical care is lumped in to other costs of providing for the child when child support calculations are being made.
How are child care costs treated by child support in Iowa?
Due to the high costs of child care for a single payment, Iowa has specialized guidelines that consider child care costs separately from the general costs of raising a child for the purposes of calculating child support payments.
Iowa treats child care costs as a "mandatory deduction" for basic child support. This means that if the non-custodial parent pays child care costs, the portion of the total monthly child care costs attributed to the custodial partner are deducted from the noncustodial partner's monthly child support payment. If the custodial parent pays for child care, the non-custodial parent must pay their share in addition to basic child support.
Does child support cover college education expenses in Iowa?
Iowa state law does allow courts to order the non-custodial parent to contribute to their child's college education upon graduating high school. Whether post-secondary education support is ordered, and the amount that may be ordered, varies depending on the situation.
How is child support enforced in Iowa?
In the state of Iowa, child support is enforced by the state child support agency. The state agency handles the location of non-custodial parents, enforcement of support orders, and the handling of unpaid child support arrears.
What are child support arrears?
Child support arrears are the amount of child support that is delinquent, or unpaid, by the noncustodial parent to the custodial parent. Child support arrears may be collected by the state through wage garnishment, bank levy. withholding of Iowa welfare benefits, or other collection methods.
How are child support payments taxed in Iowa?
Under IRS guidelines, the recepient of child support does not need to pay federal tax on child support payments, and the payer of child support cannot deduct their child support payments. This differs from the federal taxation of alimony payments, which are treated as taxable income by the receiver and are deductible by the payor. Iowa tax law may vary on tax treatment of child support.