Child Support in Iowa

Last Updated on December 22, 2022 by Meghan

Raising a child is generally an expensive activity. The impact is felt more deeply when the child is being brought up on the income of just one parent. In some cases, parents who raise a child alone may not be able to meet up with all the expenses and this may cause a sharp drop in the standard of living of the child. To protect the child and custodial parent from financial strains, there are certain child support laws. Child support payments are instituted to balance out the cost of raising a child between both parents of the child, even though they may not be living together.


Child Support Process After Divorce

Child support cases in Iowa are handled by the Department of Human Services. Parents who want to obtain child support can complete an application on https://secureapp.dhs.state.ia.us/customerweb/api/documents/7bb3e9b9-97d1-4486-bce3-5ebc0f74cf9b/download. The application process for child support in Iowa is free, unlike some other states that charge a fee. During the application process, details about the custodial and noncustodial parent are required. The more information the custodial parent can provide, the easier it will be to locate their noncustodial partner. Information such as work, and home addresses may be critical to pushing the case forward. Until the noncustodial parent is located, the case cannot proceed.

The next step is to establish the paternity of the child. If paternity documents such as a birth certificate with an acknowledged father are available, they can be presented. The parents may also fill a form acknowledging the legal parentage of the child. In the case of a disagreement over the actual paternity of the child, the court may order genetic testing to be carried out. These tests are highly accurate in determining the father of the child.

The parents are then requested to provide information on their income, financial status, and healthcare coverage. These details are used to guide the establishment of the child support order and the exact amount to be awarded on the case.

Overall, the length of the child support establishment process depends on how long it takes to locate the other parent and how long it takes the court to verify the financial status, income, and assets of the parents.

Either of the parents can request a review of the support order if there has been a significant income change. The modification of a child support order takes effect from when it is completed and does not affect previous payments. For further details on review and modification of child support orders, visit https://secureapp.dhs.state.ia.us/customerweb/resources/Modifying%20an%20Order/Modifying%20an%20Order.

How Do You Receive Child Support?

Parents receiving child support in Iowa can choose to get their payments in their bank accounts as direct deposits. This allows the payments to be credited into an already existing savings or checking account owned by the parent. Parents may instead opt for the US Bank ReliaCard option for receiving payments. This is a debit card that has the child support payments loaded onto it periodically. After the payments have been obtained from the noncustodial parent, they are processed and then credited onto this card. The ReliaCard can be used to perform ATM withdrawals or make purchases like a regular debit card. For details of the ReliaCard option, visit https://secureapp.dhs.state.ia.us/customerweb/resources/General%20Info/ReliaCard.

Maximum Amount Receivable as Child Support

The amount of money specified in the child support order is determined by using the Child Support Guidelines found at https://www.legis.iowa.gov/docs/ACO/CourtRulesChapter/9.pdf. These guidelines are consulted for establishing medical support orders as well. The income of both parents is used to set up the child support amount. This income excludes whatever the parents may earn through public assistance payments. Unlike some other states that use the gross income of the parents, Iowa uses the net income of the parents for determining the support payments. Parents whose only income comes from Supplemental Security Income will have their support payments set to zero. This can later be modified if there is a new income source for the parent. Iowa also has an online child support estimator that can be accessed at https://secureapp.dhs.state.ia.us/estimator/. This gives the parents some idea of how much they may be required to pay.

Enforcement of Child Support

When parents refuse to make their child support payments, certain actions may be taken against them to force them to comply. The Child Support Recovery Unit can instruct employers to withhold child support payments from a parent’s wages, place liens against real estate owned by the delinquent parent, suspend business or professional licenses, deny passport applications, suspend recreational and driver’s licenses, deduct the money from the parent’s account, etc. Reports may also be submitted to credit reporting agencies, which will lower the credit rating of the parent. In some cases, the Child Support Recovery Unit can also file for contempt of court proceedings. Additional details on enforcement actions can be found at https://secureapp.dhs.state.ia.us/customerweb/api/documents/794bf303-4fbe-4466-9459-08152016c0eb/download.

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