Few people think they’ll be divorced when they say “I do.” Unfortunately, millions of U.S. adults learn that not all marriages last forever every year. Some unions just don’t work out.
Choosing to dissolve a marriage is difficult, but many ultimately find it was a positive step. Regardless of why the relationship came to an end, divorce can become legally and emotionally complicated when children are involved.
Every good parent wants to make sure that their children will always be loved, well-cared, and in stable circumstances. Sometimes you can’t count on your former spouse to agree on what that means. So, what can you do to protect both your kids and your parental rights?
At Arenson Law Group, PC, we know how important your children are. You’ve kissed their bumps and bruises, spent sleepless nights caring for them when they were ill, and sacrificed to provide for them. The best thing you can do for your family is to call the legal team at Arenson Law Group, PC for help with your case.
Your child support arrangement will impact your life for years to come. Don’t count on your ex to be fair or think that you can manage it with a handshake agreement. Contact an experienced Iowa family attorney who can help you achieve the best possible outcome for your family. Call us at (319) 363-8199 to schedule a consultation and let us help you build your new life.
Who Is Responsible for Paying Child Support in Iowa and How Is It Calculated?
Both parents are responsible for bringing a child into the world. Therefore, under state law, both parents are responsible for that child’s well-being financially. In the state of Iowa, both parents must support children under the age of 18.
In most cases, the non-custodial parent (the parent who does not have primary physical custody) pays a larger portion of financial support. The court will consider a number of factors to calculate the amount of child support that they must pay, including:
- The income of both parents
- Both parents’ living arrangements and custody agreement
- Number of children who require support
- The child or children’s specific needs, such as:
- Special needs
- Which parent supplies health insurance. Federal law requires states to address medical support specifically in all child support orders. One parent must be responsible for providing medical, dental, and prescription coverage, and other health-related expenses for a child. This may come in the form of health insurance or cash medical support.
An easy way to understand child support is its goal: to provide stability to the child. Therefore, the court may also consider the child’s standard of living prior to the divorce and the paying parent’s ability to meet a similar standard. Whether you are the payee or will receive child support payments, it’s crucial to have a trained attorney who can evaluate your financial situation to determine what’s fair, what’s called for under Iowa state law, and what you can do to reach an agreement you can live with.
What Type of Child Support Issues We Can Help With
In order to help you attain an appropriate child support agreement, our Cedar Rapids child support attorneys can help you understand the following:
- Altering Child Support Agreements
- Ending Child Support
- Penalties for Failing to Pay Child Support
- Enforcing Child Support Agreements
The well-being of your family is important, and acquiring the financial stability of a child support agreement can give long-term benefits to your child. Our experienced Cedar Rapids attorneys want to help you find a settlement that will alleviate the stress of raising a child without sufficient financial support.
What Is Child Support Supposed to Cover?
Child support is what it sounds like: financial support that covers the basic needs of a child. These needs include food, shelter, clothing, medical care, and child care if both parents work.
The court may also consider other expenses related to the raising of a child, such as transportation costs and the child’s extracurricular activities. The Iowa Stare Child Support Guidelines are designed to provide for the child’s best interests following a divorce. These guidelines outline that the duty for supporting a child falls onto both parents, and both parents must provide support in proportion to their respective incomes.
Some support orders require contributions to the child’s college education. Iowa state law gives courts the ability to order parents to pay certain portions of a child’s college expenses, known as a “post-secondary subsidy.”
Before determining how much you may be responsible for paying, the court will factor in the child’s abilities, their own financial resources, the income of both parents, and whether or not the child is considered self-sustaining. Once those factors are settled, a court will examine the reasonable cost to attend an in-state school and college-related expenses. If required, parents pay post-secondary subsidies to their child or their child’s school, not their former spouse. This kind of support payment can’t exceed 33 1/3 percent of the total cost of school.
Child Support Orders from a Court
Once a court orders child support arrangements, they will issue a child support order. This binding court order will outline the following information:
- Which parent is responsible for paying child support
- How much they must pay
- How often they must make a payment
Iowa stipulates that parents pay all child support to the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS), not directly to the other parent. When a payment is sent to DHS, the state creates a paper trail that tracks the amount and timeliness of each payment. If a parent claims that they haven’t received child support payments, DHS can verify or deny those claims.
Child support orders typically end when the child or children turn 18. But in some circumstances, a parent may have to pay for a longer period of time. If a child is still in high school after the age of 18, their parent may still be required to pay child support. Additionally, if a child has a disability the requires ongoing financial assistance, their parent may be required to continue to pay to support those needs.
Penalties for Failing to Pay Child Support
Not paying child support following a divorce is not an option. Both parents in Iowa are responsible for caring for their children financially. The state will penalize parents who fail to pay the child support that has been outlined in their court orders. Failing to pay can result in the parent being charged with contempt, which may require the parent to post a cash bond.
In the event that a parent does not arrange to pay the support they owe within three months, their bond will be forfeited in order to cover those missed payments or any potential future payments. In addition to these penalties, failing to pay child support may also result in the court ordering community service of up to 20 hours per week for six weeks.
In some cases, the court may also seek to seize money from the parent’s bank accounts, federal or state tax refunds, garnish wages, or withhold income. In the event that a parent does not have a job, the court can order the parent to look for work. It can even seek to suspend that parent’s licenses, such as a license to practice an occupation, operate a car, or enjoy Iowa’s recreational activities like hunting and fishing.
Why You Need an Attorney
Navigating the Iowa state court system during a divorce can be a complex process. Even if you separate from your spouse amicably, it’s always advisable to retain a lawyer to represent your best interests as you move forward with your life.
If you and your spouse don’t agree on the conditions of your separation and arrangements for your child, then you need to prepare for a lengthy negotiation or court case. You need to have a lawyer on your side who knows how to protect your rights, the rights of your child, and your financial future. Ours at Arenson Law Group, PC has the experience and knowledge to do that.
Court decisions related to your divorce, custody, and child support are legally binding and will impact your life for years to come. You can’t afford to risk the safety of your child and your right to a comfortable home life. Some Iowans inexperienced with the court system think they can arrange their own divorce and custody agreements. That choice comes with grave risks.
You need the help of an experienced attorney who understands family law in Iowa and knows what’s personally at stake for you. An attorney can give you the legal advice you need while helping you maneuver through the legal process as efficiently as possible. At Arenson Law Group, PC, we understand how emotionally draining this time can be. After years of family law practice, we know that trustworthy legal help given with compassion and respect makes a world of difference.
Child Support FAQs
It’s important that your case moves quickly, so your children are put at as little risk as possible during the process. For your convenience, we’ve provided a few common questions we receive about child support. Reach out to us at (319) 363-8199 if you don’t see all the answers to your questions below.
My former spouse is not keeping up with their child support payments. What should I do?
If you are not receiving the child support that your former spouse is required to pay you, there are steps you can take to enforce payment. The courts are very strict about enforcing child support, and under the 1984 Child Support Enforcement Act, district attorneys or state attorneys must help a parent collect the child support they are owed. When a person responsible for paying child support falls behind in their payments, they are considered to be “in arrears.” The payer may be able to ask the judge for a reduction in future payments, but can never get the amount reduced for what they already owe. A child support attorney will be able to assess your situation and provide you with legal options and advice on how to proceed.
How is child support calculated?
The way that child support is calculated varies from state to state. In Iowa, child support is based on both parents’ net income and the number of children. Child support payments will always be greater when the parents share more children. It is also important to note that child support could be different for each child. For example, if one child has physical disabilities or medical problems, the child support will be higher because of the costs that come along with doctor visits, hospital stays, etc. Additionally, child support will increase as children get older and their general expenses increase. It is always wise to have a child support attorney examine your situation and the finances involved in order to best determine the correct amount of child support.
How does remarriage affect child support?
In general, when a parent remarries, this does not affect the amount of child support from a previous marriage or relationship. Child support is calculated typically based on the incomes of the biological parents of a child, so stepparent income rarely has an impact on a child support order. Also, an ex cannot request modification of a child support order solely because you have remarried. For any questions related to child support, it is best to turn to an experienced attorney who can provide you with answers specific to your situation
Contact Arenson Law Group, PC
At Arenson Law Group, PC, we know that you would do anything to protect your child. The first step in protecting their future, and yours, is to call the experienced family law team at Arenson Law Group, PC. The outcome of your divorce and your child support agreement will have far-reaching consequences.
You can’t afford to put yourself or your child in jeopardy. That’s why we work hard to protect your rights so that you both will have a solid foundation on which to build your new lives.
Don’t wait a moment longer to get the help you need. At Arenson Law Group, PC, we strive to provide both legal guidance and emotional support during your divorce. Let us help you achieve the best possible outcome for your situation. Contact us at (319) 363-8199 for a confidential case evaluation.
Written by James H. ArensonLast Updated : October 13, 2023