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If you wish to request a child support order from the Iowa courts, but you were never married to the other party, this is the article for you. In this article we discuss how child support is calculated for parents in the State of Iowa, including:

  • Where Do I File for Child Support in Iowa If I Was Never Married?
  • What Steps Are Required to Get Child Support in Iowa?
  • How Is Iowa Child Support Calculated?

If you wish to request a child support order from the Iowa courts, but you were never married to the other party, this is the article for you. In this article we discuss how child support is calculated for parents in the State of Iowa, including:

  • Where Do I File for Child Support in Iowa If I Was Never Married?
  • What Steps Are Required to Get Child Support in Iowa?
  • How Is Iowa Child Support Calculated?

In Iowa, divorces that involve children automatically enter an order for child custody, child support and visitation when the order for the divorce is entered. However, if you were never married to your child (or children’s) other parent, you can still petition (request) the Court for a child support order.  

Where Do I File for Child Support in Iowa If I Was Never Married?

If you wish to petition the Court for child custody, visitation and support, you must go through Iowa family court to do so. In Iowa, this is referred to as the Iowa District Court of (insert your county name here). This is the court that you will file your Petition and other legal documents with.  

What Steps Are Required to Get Child Support in Iowa?

In these cases, there are a couple of preliminary steps before child support can be calculated. First, paternity (or the other parent’s parental status) must be established. In Iowa, if a child was born during a marriage, the mother’s husband is presumed to be the child’s father. However, if a child is born outside of a marriage, that presumption does not exist. Paternity can be established with a document called a Paternity Affidavit, in which both parents acknowledge parentage. Establishing paternity can also involve DNA testing. For more information on establishing paternity, check out our article Recent Changes to Iowa Paternity Laws . Once the court establishes the parental status of the other party, child support proceedings occur similarly to a divorce, minus the language about marriage.  

How Is Iowa Child Support Calculated?

In Iowa, child support, regardless of marital status, is established according to guidelines outlined in Chapter 9 of the Iowa Code and is paid by the noncustodial parent (the parent who has visitation) to the custodial parent (the parent with primary physical care). The amount established is affected by several factors, including the income of each parent, taking into consideration other financial obligations such as other child support orders and alimony, the number of nights the child(ren) spend with a visiting parent, the cost of adding the child(ren) to health insurance plans, job-related child support costs, and more.  

Judges use a chart called the Iowa Schedule of Basic Support Obligations (Schedule) and each parent’s monthly net income to determine the mandated amount of child support required. They add the parents’ income and determine the share the noncustodial parent contributes. The noncustodial parent’s share of the total monthly net income is then multiplied by the Schedule amount and the result is the basic monthly child support obligation of the noncustodial parent. This number can be adjusted based on the factors listed above.  

The process is a little different if the parties are awarded “joint physical care”, meaning they share equal parenting time with the child(ren). After adding the parents’ monthly net income together and determining each parties’ share of support, the judge then multiplies that support amount by 1.5 and then the result by 50%. The parent with the greater support amount may deduct the other parent’s obligation from theirs and pay the difference in monthly support.  

Enforcing a Child Support Order in Iowa  

Once paternity has been established and the basic monthly obligation determined, a court Order is entered by the judge ordering the obligated parent to pay month support to the other parent for the benefit of the child(ren). The Child Support Recovery Unit of the Iowa Department of Human Services handles all matters related to child support, including everything described, as well as enforcement of child support orders. The Child Support Recovery Unit has its methods to compel payment, including “income withholding”. If you have been ordered to pay child support and are unable to make your payments, visit the article linked here to learn how you may be able to avoid penalty.

If you would like assistance requesting child support in your county, contact one of the experienced family law attorneys at O’Flaherty Law, P.C. today. You can call our office at (630) 324-6666 or schedule a consultation. You can also fill out our confidential contact form and we will get back to you shortly.

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