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Iowa Child Support Modification Explained | How to Change Iowa Child Support Payments

Article written by Illinois & Iowa Attorney Kevin O'Flaherty
Updated on
November 22, 2019

In this article, we explain Iowa child support modification, including:

  • How to modify child support orders in Iowa;
  • What is a “substantial change in circumstances” for modification of child support in Iowa?;
  • When can I request a child support modification in Iowa;
  • Modifying child support through the Iowa Child Support Recovery Unit;
  • Can an Iowa child support order change temporarily?;
  • Permanent modification of Iowa child support orders; and
  • If my child support agreement has already been modified, can it change again?

How to Modify Child Support Orders in Iowa

Once a child support order is in place, a change can be made if either parent goes through a “substantial change in circumstances” which qualifies the order for recalculation.  A child support order modification request must be filed with the same court that set the original court order.  Even if both parties agree on altering the amount of child support, a judge must still make a determination about the order.  The Child Support Recovery Unit can also review and make adjustments to support orders in certain cases.  You should consult an attorney for advice on the best way to proceed if you think your child support order should be modified, as the processes can be quite different, depending on the circumstances of each case.

What is a “Substantial Change In Circumstances” for Modification of Child Support in Iowa?

A change in circumstance is considered “substantial” when the amount of support would increase or decrease by ten percent, based on the current precedent.  Numerous factors are considered when determining a substantial change in circumstances, including:

  • Changes in employment, earning capacity, income, or resources of a party;
  • Receipt of an inheritance, pension, or other 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; or
  • Remarriage of a party.

When Can I Request a Child Support Modification in Iowa?

You can ask for a change in child support when there is already a court order in place stating that you pay child support, should receive child support payments, and/or have the right to get child support payments in the future.  If you do not yet have a court order for child support and wish to challenge the amount that has been calculated before the court order is entered, reference the What If I Disagree With My Child Support Calculation? heading of our article about Iowa Child Support Law.

Modifying Child Support Through the Iowa Child Support Recovery Unit

Iowa Law allows for the Child Support Recovery Unit (CSRU) to change child support amounts in three ways.  They are as follows:

  • Review and adjustment (regular or abbreviated process);
  • Administrative modification;, and 
  • Cost-of-Living Alteration (COLA).

Since each of these three processes are different, the CSRU will determine which method fits your situation once you fill out and submit a Request to Modify a Child Support Order form, which can be found on the Iowa Child Support Recovery Unit website.  When you fill out and sign the form, you also agree to receive papers about this by mail, which is referred to as “accepting service.”  You may have to pay a fee if the CSRU uses certified mail, the sheriff, or a process server to personally serve the party.  You should consult an attorney or contact the CSRU to determine which service is right for you.

Can an Iowa Child Support Order Change Temporarily?

Yes, child support modifications can be temporary or permanent.  Temporary changes in child support amounts can be granted in circumstances such as a child’s medical emergency, temporary loss of employment by one parent, or a medical emergency of one parent.  A temporary modification of child support can also be associated with a temporary change of child custody if one parent needs to be hospitalized for an extended period of time.

Permanent Modification of Iowa Child Support Orders

Permanent child support modifications can be granted when a “substantial change in circumstance” is a long-term change.  Examples of these situations include the re-marriage of one parent, changes in family law regarding child support, a permanent disability of one parent, the needs of the child, or a job change of one parent.

If My Child Support Agreement has Already Been Modified, Can it Change Again?

Yes, though there are certain restrictions for the frequency of child support modifications.  If there has been a “substantial change of circumstances,” that parent will always have the right to seek child support modification.  However, your request may be denied if your change in circumstances is not deemed substantial, or if you are utilizing the services of the Child Support Recovery Unit and do not meet their qualifications to proceed with the case.  For example, the CSRU may deny your request when deciding if they should review the order if it has not been at least 24 months since the court order was entered.  You should consult an attorney for more information about how to proceed.

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How to Modify Child Support Orders in Iowa

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