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In this article, we will be giving an overview of Iowa Family Law pertaining to divorce, child custody, child support, and maintenance (spousal support) in 2023 and any 2023 updates to Iowa Family law that encompasses divorce, child custody, child support, and maintenance (spousal support).

Key Takeaways

Going through a divorce at any time in your life, is a very stressful and difficult situation for both parties, especially when there are children involved who are affected by the divorce process. In this article, we will be giving an overview of Iowa Family Law pertaining to divorce, child custody, child support, and maintenance (spousal support) in 2022 and any 2022 updates to Iowa Family law that encompasses divorce, child custody, child support, and maintenance (spousal support). There has not been much of a change in Iowa law pertaining to Family Law for 2022 but listed below is the relevant Iowa Family Law for 2022.

Read our recent article, How Hard Is It To File For Divorce in Iowa?

Protecting Yourself Before Divorce What Are Your Options?

One way to ensure that you and your spouse will be on the same page as far as agreeing upon terms of a divorce is to enter into a prenuptial agreement before the marriage, which will lay out the terms and conditions of the divorce. It is important to note that you cannot contract out of child support obligations through a prenuptial agreement. A postnuptial agreement is an agreement entered into by both spouses after the marriage which lays out the terms and conditions of the divorce, again you may not contract out of child support obligations in either prenuptial or postnuptial agreements. Learn what to do if you are served and answering a divorce petition.

In our recent article, we cover Iowa Divorce FAQs: What You Need To Know Before Filing For Divorce.

Divorce in Iowa

Equitable Distribution

Iowa is a state that recognizes equitable distribution among the spouses who are divorcing to divide property among spouses upon divorce in 2022. Equitable distribution simply means that the court will divide the property among the spouses according to what is fair. The Iowa court will look at many factors in considering equitable distribution among spouses who are divorcing. Orders for Disposition of Property Section §598.21 (5) Division of property. The court shall divide all property, except inherited property or gifts received or expected by one party, equitably between the parties after considering all of the following:

  1. How long the marriage lasted
  1. Each article of property both spouses brought into the marriage
  1. Both partner’s economical marital contributions that impacted the marriage, the amount of housework, and the amount of childcare each spouse contributed to the marriage
  1. Physical mental and emotional health statuses of both partners
  1. The help of one spouse to the other to contribute to further the education and training of the other spouse
  1. Each spouses earning potential, which includes the education and training of each of the spouses, college degrees, work experience of each spouse, whether or not one of the spouses has been absent from the job market for an extended period of time, employment skills of each of the spouses, or if a spouse is lacking in employment skills or knowledge the amount of time and money it would take for that spouse to obtain further education and or knowledge to enable that spouse to become self-sufficient and able to support themselves financially to a level that the spouse was accustomed to during the marriage
  1. The attractiveness of granting the marital home or the right to live in the marital home for a fair amount of time to the spouse having sole custody of the children, or if the parties have joint custody of the children, to the spouse who has physical care of the children
  1. The quantity and period of an order granting support payments to either party and whether it is possible that the property split should be in lieu of such payments
  1. The remaining economic situation of each spouse including vested or unvested retirement benefits, pension benefits, and any future interests
  1. The tax implications for each of the spouses
  1. Any written contracts or agreements entered into between the spouses
  1. The provisions of an antenuptial agreement
  1. Any other relevant factors that the court may consider between the spouses

If the spouses can come to an agreement upon the terms of their property settlement and agreements pertaining to assets and debts through mediation, then there is no need to utilize equitable distribution through the court. This is a very good reason to hire an attorney to represent and protect your property interests during the divorce process. Having a highly-experienced attorney who has handled many divorce cases successfully can help you come to a favorable resolution in your divorce case.

Learn how long a divorce typically takes in Iowa in our recent article: How Long Does It Take To Get Divorced In Iowa?  

Divorce Process Iowa

Separate Property Vs. Marital Property in Iowa

You may be wondering what is separate property compared to the marital property? In Iowa, separate property is property of one of the spouses that were: (1) An inheritance that one of the spouses received during the marriage or (2) a gift that one of the spouses received during the marriage. All other property, assets, and debts, from the point of marriage onwards, are considered marital property and will be distributed accordingly during the divorce process under Iowa equitable distribution law principles. It is important to note that in Iowa if the spouses “comingle” their separate property such as a gift, the court may then decide to treat that property as marital property and distribute it accordingly.  

Recent Changes to Child Support in Iowa

In Iowa, the courts will look mainly to the best interests of the child and the financial need of the child in determining a child support order among the spouses. Both spouses’ incomes determine the amount that one spouse will pay in child support to the other spouse. The Iowa courts recognize the fact that both parents have a continuing duty to support their children financially based upon the amount of income they make through employment. Iowa courts utilize the  Iowa Supreme Court Child Support Guidelines  in the calculation of child support.  

There are other factors the court will use to determine a child support order the Iowa court uses a child support guidelines worksheet to compute the proper amount of child support. For informational estimating purposes only, The Iowa Department of Human Services has an Iowa Child Support Estimator that you can utilize to estimate your child support payments here.

What Is New In 2022 For Child Support?

According to Iowa Department of Human Services the Child Support Recovery Unit (CSRU) have now terminated the $25 application fee. There is no longer a fee for anyone trying to complete an application through CSRU.

Do I Have To Provide Medical Care And Coverage To My Child?

Federal law requires all states including Iowa to establish medical care and coverage in all child support orders, see more 252E.1A Establishing and modifying orders for medical support the bottom line is that parents must provide medical coverage for their children.

Child custody in Iowa

Recent Changes to Child Custody in Iowa

Iowa will look to the best interests of the child when determining a child custody order. Legal custody can be defined as a parent's rights and responsibilities to their child/children these include the parent's right to determine their child/children's medical care, educational, religious, and all other decisions for the child. Iowa courts have the discretion to award sole or joint legal custody to the parents.  

Joint custody is when parents share time watching over the children. Sole custody is when one parent is better fit to take care of the child. Ultimately, the Iowa courts will always make child custody determinations for and in the best interest of the child/children. The Iowa courts try as best as possible to allocate time for both parents to be in their child/children's lives, unless doing so would place the child in danger either physically mentally or emotionally.

There are many factors that the Iowa courts will consider determining what is in the best interest of the child/children, Under Iowa Code 598.41 Custody of Children (3)(2) In considering what custody arrangement under subsection 2 is in the best interest of the minor child, the court shall consider the following factors:

  1. Whether or not each spouse would be a suitable guardian for the child
  1. Whether the child will suffer emotionally mentally or psychologically due to lack of contact communication or attention from one or both parents
  1. Whether the parents can communicate effectively amongst each other regarding the child’s needs
  1. Whether the parents can effectively care for the child before and after the separation
  1. Whether each parent can support one another’s relationship with the child
  1. Taking into consideration the wishes of the child regarding which parent the child prefers to live with, and the child’s age and maturity
  1. Whether both parents are in agreement regarding custody of the child or not
  1. The location of where each parent is located
  1. Looking at the best interests of the child whether the safety of the child would be in danger by awarding both parents joint custody, unsupervised visitation, or unrestricted visitation
  1. Whether or not there is a history of violence or domestic abuse amongst the parents. Whether or not there has been a protective order granted against a parent which prevents abuse
  1. Whether one of the parents is a registered sex offender

Read our recent article to learn about Calling Witnesses in Iowa Divorce and Child Custody Cases.

Are My Retirement And Pension Accounts Marital Property?

Retirement and pension accounts acquired by one or both spouses during the marriage, are considered by Iowa courts to be marital property, which will be subject to equitable distribution legal principles in the spouses’ divorce case. After the judgment of divorce is entered by the court, one of the spouses’ attorneys will create what is known as a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (“QDRO”) after this order is drafted it will be submitted to the court for approval. The QDRO will lay out the terms and conditions of the pension and retirement funds allocation between the spouses. The QDRO will also include the percentage amounts of the pension/retirement account that each spouse will be entitled to. If any disputes arise pertaining to the pension or retirement accounts after the divorce judgment is entered or after the QDRO is entered by the court, either spouse may bring the issue before the court for enforcement.  

What Is Spousal Support And When Is It Awarded?

Under Iowa law there are three different types of spousal support (formerly known as alimony):

1. Traditional support which are payments from one spouse to the other who are unable to support themselves financially due to the marriage, old age, sickness, or other relevant reasons. The Judge will usually only award traditional award payments to marriages that are long-term in which one spouse primarily relied on the other spouse for financial support for many years. This type of long-term support is usually permanent unless, the spouse receiving the support remarries or their life circumstances change, such as cohabitating with another significant other.

2. Rehabilitative support is a temporary spousal support measure that a Judge will allow on a temporary basis to "rehabilitate" one spouse and in essence get them back on their feet, the Judge will not award this short-term spousal support on a long-term basis and will usually be of short duration.

3. Reimbursement spousal support is rare in Iowa but is used in the Judge’s discretion, when one spouse supported the other spouse to obtain education or advancement in their career path. The Judge will take into consideration and weigh many factors to determine is spousal support is appropriate:  

  • how long the marriage lasted  
  • the spouses ages and physical and emotional status  
  • the outcome pertaining to property division that transpired in the divorce  
  • the spouses educational background and earning capacities at the time of divorce.  
  • any agreements entered into concerning the spouses.
  • any other facts the court determines to be relevant.

Divorce is a complicated and emotional process, but you don’t have to go through it alone. Our skilled attorneys are here to help you every step of the way to get the most favorable outcome out of your divorce. If you would like to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys, give us a call at (630)-324-6666 or fill out our confidential intake form and a member of our team with contact you.  

December 8, 2022
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