In Iowa, as in most states, both legal and biological parents have a financial responsibility to their child. Even when parents divorce or live separately, this responsibility still exists. Working with a child support attorney in Des Moines can help you ensure that your child is getting the most financial support possible while being fair to both parents.

Child support payments exist to ensure that each parent provides their share of financial support, proportional to their income and the amount of time they care for their child. Child support cases can be held as part of a divorce, separation, or paternity case. Iowa uses the income shares method to calculate support payments. However, the state guidelines can be amended in the interests of a child. Understanding how the state calculates child support can help both parents prepare for the case determination.

Income of Parents in Child Support Payments

Support payments are largely reliant on the combined net monthly income of both parents. The net monthly income of a parent is their gross, or total, income from all sources, minus specific required deductions. These deductions include:

  • Federal and state income tax
  • Social Security and Medicare tax deductions
  • Pension payments not exceeding the Social Security and Medicare deduction amount
  • Required occupational license fees if paid by the individual
  • Health insurance costs for children not included in this support order
  • Any cash medical support that is part of this support order
  • Prior obligations for child support, including cash medical support
  • Union dues
  • Actual childcare expenses

Any other qualifying deductions may also be made, but not all expenses can be considered deductions. The court does not include stepparent income when calculating child support payments. Typically, the parent who is considered the noncustodial parent, with less parenting time, is responsible for these payments. If parents have joint parenting time, they can use a different table to determine payments.

Other Factors Used to Calculate Child Support in Des Moines

Parental income is not the only part of child support calculations. Other factors include:

  1. The number of children who need support. Multiple children mean higher childcare costs and a correspondingly higher support amount needed. If either parent is paying child support for children from prior relationships, this will also be taken into account.
  2. The parenting time and custody arrangement. The number of overnights that each parent has with their children will impact support calculations. If a noncustodial parent has more than 127 overnights, they will receive a credit for their share of child support.
  3. The costs of basic childcare. There are deductions to each parent’s gross monthly income to account for the significant costs of childcare and support. This percentage increases with the number of additional dependents.
  4. Health insurance premium costs. The court must order medical support for the child and determine what the reasonable cost of healthcare would be. The affordability of healthcare premiums can impact child support, especially for low-income families.
  5. Variance in childcare expenses. Childcare expenses are the costs that the custodial parent pays that are necessary for the parents to remain employed, get higher education, or complete job searches. Because these expenses are not part of the basic support obligations, they can affect final calculations.

The primary goal of support payments is to provide for a child’s interests and help them maintain the same financial support they would have enjoyed if their parents remained together. Child support payments last until a child is 18 or between 18 and 19 and enrolled full-time at school. If a child is mentally or physically disabled and dependent on their custodial parent, support payments may continue past this age, sometimes permanently.


Q: How Is Child Support Determined in Iowa?

A: Child support is determined in Iowa primarily based on each parent’s income. It is also determined based on the number of children who need support, actual childcare expenses, healthcare insurance costs, and the number of overnights a child has with each parent.

Child support determinations in Iowa assume that one parent is the primary custodial parent and that the other is the noncustodial parent, so joint parenting arrangements may operate differently. An attorney can help you determine what is fair and reasonable under state law in your unique situation.

Q: Do You Have to Pay Child Support If You Have 50/50 Custody in Iowa?

A: You may have to pay child support with 50/50 custody in Iowa, depending on many circumstances. Often, a perfect 50/50 split of parenting time is unrealistic, so the parent with slightly more parenting time may receive payments. In other cases, parents with joint custody have unequal incomes, so the high-earning parent pays child support.

Even when parents have the same income and 50/50 custody, there still may be cases where support is needed. For example, certain costs cannot be split between parents, like healthcare expenses.

Q: What Are the New Child Support Laws in Iowa?

A: The most recent changes to child support laws in Iowa are additional provisions for low-income families in 2023. These changes adjust the requirements for low-income parents who are noncustodial parents. The basic support obligation is lowered in those cases to enable parents to fulfill their responsibility to support their child without placing the supporting parent in financial hardship.

The noncustodial parent, in these cases, is responsible for healthcare only when there is no extra cost to add their children to the plan.

Q: Can Parents Agree to Waive Child Support in Iowa?

A: Typically, parents cannot agree to waive child support in Iowa. Child support is the right of a child and the legal responsibility of both parents. Both parents have to provide financial support, and child support ensures that they both do so when one parent has greater custody or a lower income. In some cases, suspension of child support can be allowed when the caretaker of the children does not want the financial support from child support services.

Contact Stange Law Firm in Des Moines

Child support determinations can be complicated and rely on a lot of unique factors in a family’s life. For legal support during this process, contact Stange Law Firm. Our team can help you navigate a divorce, custody, or support case.