In this article, we explain Iowa alimony law, also referred to as spousal support. The questions “what is alimony?”, “when is alimony awarded in Iowa?”, “what factors do courts consider when awarding alimony in Iowa?’”, “how is the amount and duration of alimony calculated in Iowa?”, “how does the division of property affect spousal support in Iowa?”, “How does child support affect alimony in Iowa?”, and “can alimony be modified in Iowa?” will be answered.
Spousal support, also known as alimony, is a court-ordered provision for support based on financial need. Spousal support can be temporary, short-term, or permanent depending on each spouse’s circumstances. The Court will consider a variety of factors to determine if alimony should be awarded and to which party. If alimony is granted, a judge will decide the amount to be paid, the means by which it will be paid, and how long the payments will continue, unless there is an agreement between the parties that has been approved by the Court.
“Spousal Support” is typically awarded when one party has a greater earning potential than the other. For example, if one spouse worked outside of the home while the other took care of the majority of homemaking responsibilities, “spousal support” may be awarded to the party that stayed in the home if they would not be financially stable without assistance from their spouse. Sometimes “spousal support” is awarded temporarily while a spouse gains education or training to increase marketability in the workforce. Conversely, if a spouse can be awarded support if one spouse was entirely devoted to the education and career of the other. In this case, “spousal support” is meant to reimburse a spouse for sacrifices made during the marriage. Either party is entitled to request “spousal support,” so you should consult with an attorney to determine if your circumstances would qualify.
Awards of alimony vary greatly. The Court will consider factors as follows:
The amount and duration of alimony is awarded at the discretion of the judge, based on weighing factors on a case to case basis. There is no mathematical formula for guidelines in Iowa as in other states. There are three types of alimony that judges use as a basis for determining the amount and duration of alimony: rehabilitative, traditional and reimbursement. To learn more about each type of alimony, see our article entitled How to Calculate Alimony in Iowa | Iowa Spousal Support Calculation.
The distribution of assets gained during the marriage can significantly impact the amount of alimony awarded to the seeking spouse, if any. For example, if a profit-sharing or trust account is awarded to one spouse, the Court may forgo an award of alimony and direct the receiving spouse to use the funds to provide sufficient income. Divorcing spouses could also attend mediation, allowing a neutral third-party to assist in the distribution of assets and other contested issues such as alimony.
If the custodian of the child or children of the marriage is unable to support themselves due to the children being of an age or condition that hinders an individual’s ability to support said children, the court may grant both child support and alimony to the custodial parent. However, if a party is already receiving child support and no extenuating circumstances prevent the spouse from working, this could highly impact the final decision to award alimony or the amount to be awarded.
Yes. Alimony payments can be modified in the event of a “substantial change in circumstances.” Examples of a “substantial change in circumstances” include: changes in employment, earning capacity, income, or resources of a party; receipt of an inheritance, pension, or large gift; changes in medical expenses of a party; changes in number or needs of dependents of a party; changes in the residence of a party; remarriage of a party; or other factors deemed relevant by the Court.
Alimony will end automatically if both spouses agree, either spouse dies, or the receiving spouse remarries.