Child Support

In almost all cases, even when there is shared physical care of the children, one party will be ordered to pay the other child support and one party will have to provide health insurance for the children. Child support is calculated using the Child Support Guidelines and is generally based on income and the number of children to support.

Using the Child Support Guidelines is mandatory and neither party can refuse to pay or accept child support if the Guidelines call for it. Calculating child support is deceptively simple and there are a lot of hidden traps for the unwary. Calculating child support is really best done by experienced family law attorneys.

How Long Does Child Support Last?

Child support continues until the child either turns 18 or up to age 19 if the child has not graduated high school and is a full-time student. After child support end, parents who are divorced can be ordered to pay up to 1/3 the cost of post-high school education for a student who is enrolled full time. This education support can last until the child turns 22. Costs are based on an Iowa resident attending an accredited Iowa public school, regardless of whether or not the child is attending a more expensive private school. There are limited circumstances where this support cannot be awarded, such as when the child disowns the parent.

How Do I Pay Child Support?

Once ordered, if the payer is employed, child support is automatically taken out of the payer’s income. The automatic withdrawal is mandatory. Only if the person is self-employed can the payer send payments in to the Child Support Collection Center.

Iowa does not require an accounting for how child support money is spent.

What Happens If I Don’t Pay?

Failure to pay child support is serious and can result in Contempt of Court charges being brought against the person who is not paying. If the court finds the payer is willfully refusing to pay child support, the court can put payer in jail for 30 days for each month support was not paid. There was a case in Story County where a payer was sentenced to 720 days in jail for not paying support for 24 months. In addition, a payer who does not pay the court ordered child support can lose their driver’s license and any professional license they may have.

One thing failure to pay child support does not do is take away the right of the payer to have visitation with the children. A payer could owe a million dollars in back due support yet still have the absolute right to have visitation or shared physical are. Likewise, the payer cannot stop making child support payments because the custodial parent is not in compliance with court-ordered visitation schedule. Denial of visitation is also punishable by contempt.

What Else Should I Know About Child Support?

If either parent has a significant change in their income, child support can be adjusted to reflect the new financial reality. A person who deliberately reduces their income is not allowed to reduce their child support in most instances. If one of the parents marries, the new spouse’s income is not counted in calculating child support.