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Kevin O'Flaherty

In this article, we answer the question " how does alimony impact child support obligations in Iowa?" We address the following:

  • What is alimony?
  • Are there different types of spousal support in Iowa?
  • How are child support amounts determined in Iowa?
  • How does spousal support impact child support obligations in Iowa?

What is alimony?

Spousal support, also known as alimony, is money paid by one spouse to the other following a divorce. The spouse with the higher income is typically required to make monthly spousal support payments, though there are other deciding factors. The purpose of spousal support is to ensure both spouses maintain the same standard of living they grew accustomed to during their marriage. To ensure a fair amount is awarded, a judge may consider any or all of the following points:

  • Duration of marriage
  • Financial contributions to household
  • Domestic contributions to household
  • Age of each spouse along with their physical, emotional, and mental health statuses

For foundational information, check out our article: Iowa Alimony Explained

Are there different types of spousal support in Iowa?

The need for spousal support is decided after all property and assets have been divided between both spouses. If there is a deficit, only then will a court consider awarding alimony. In Iowa, there are three types of spousal support arrangements.

  • Periodic spousal support is the most common and provides the receiving spouse with monthly payments that continue until the death of the payee or the death or remarriage of the receiver.
  • Rehabilitative alimony is temporary and is typically awarded in cases where one spouse put their career on hold to tend to the home during the marriage. Payments allow the receiver time to prepare for and secure employment.
  • Reimbursement spousal support is awarded in cases where one spouse paid for the other’s education. For example, if Spouse A paid for Spouse B’s college tuition while they were married but Spouse B had yet to secure employment before their divorce was finalized, Spouse B could be ordered to reimburse Spouse A.

How are child support amounts determined in Iowa?

Iowa requires both parents to financially support their children, whether married, unmarried, separated, or divorced, unless custody terms state otherwise. Child support payments ensure both parents are taking equal financial responsibility for the child and that the child’s standard of living remains the same after a divorce.

In most sole child custody cases, the noncustodial parent makes child support payments to the custodial parent. In cases of joint custody, one parent may still be required to make child support payments to make up for any financial support differences.  The amount of the payment depends on the income of the parties relative to one another. 

Child support payments continue until a child reaches the age of 18. Exceptions to this include a child who is 18 but still in high school or if a physical or mental disability requires continued support. Child support payments can be cut short if a child becomes emancipated.

For more, check out our article: Iowa Child Support Law Explained.

How does spousal support impact child support obligations in Iowa?

Spousal support and child support payments are separate and distinct in Iowa. However, one can influence the other. The closer the income of both parents are in relation to each other, the smaller any awarded child support payments will be. Alimony payments can directly affect child support as they’re considered part of a receiver’s income. However, it’s important to note that alimony payments are not deducted from the overall income of a payor.  

As an example, Spouse C pays Spouse D alimony. When determining child custody payments, Spouse C’s payments are not deducted from their income. But the payments are included in Spouse D’s income. If Spouse D is receiving alimony payments that make their income nearly equal to that of Spouse C, they will likely be awarded modest child support payments.

Alimony payments, especially periodic, can be modified or eliminated should either spouse’s income drastically change, either from a change of employment, increased medical expenses, or inheritance. If these changes drastically affect a receiver’s or payee’s income, child support payments can fluctuate in relation.

Continuing with our example, if Spouse D remarries and no longer qualifies for alimony payments, Spouse C’s child custody payments could increase.

Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Each individual's legal needs are unique, and these materials may not be applicable to your legal situation. Always seek the advice of a competent attorney with any questions you may have regarding a legal issue. Do not disregard professional legal advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog.


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