Iowa Child Support: How is it calculated?
Under Iowa law, both parents have a duty to provide adequate support for their child(ren) in proportion to their respective incomes. The Iowa Supreme Court has adopted uniform child support guidelines that are used when calculating a parent’s child support obligation. One of the most common questions that arise in family law matters is how much will I have to pay in child support? or how much will I get in child support?
Attorneys are equipped with a special program that calculates child support. It can be difficult to provide estimated child support amounts on the spot due to the several factors considered in the calculation and the particular numbers that are needed. However, I usually provide the following basic explanation of the common factors considered in calculating child support:
1. Income. Both parties’ incomes are included in the child support calculation. However, income figures are not always white and black, especially if one’s income fluctuates due to changes in employment. Income is generally estimated or averaged using paystubs or tax returns from previous years. If a parent is not working, but has the ability to, the Court may impute an income on the parent as if he/she was working.
Certain sources of income, such as disability benefits, overtime, or annual bonuses may be considered income and should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. If a parent remarries, however, the stepparent’s income is not included as income for child support calculation purposes.
2. Number of Children. The number of children born between the parties and eligible for child support will affect the child support obligation.
3. Custody. The custody arrangement between the parties can have a significant effect on the child support obligation. For instance, if one parent has primary care of the child(ren), meaning the child(ren) live with him/her a majority of the time, the other parent will likely pay more child support. However, if the parents have shared physical care, meaning they equally parent the child(ren), the child support obligation may be significantly less.
4. Tax Dependents. The parties will generally alternate the child as a dependent for tax purposes, or if there is more than one child, they will each claim one. Regardless, the child support obligation may change depending on how the parties claim the child(ren) as dependents.
5. Health Insurance. The cost of health insurance for only the child(ren) is included in the child support calculation. If the payee provides insurance for the children, the payor’s obligation is generally higher. If the payor provides the health insurance, his/her obligation is generally lower.
6. Other Credits/Deductions. Your lawyer may also consider other credits and/or deductions to the calculation if they’re applicable. Such may include extraordinary visitation credit, qualified additional dependent(s), prior child support obligations, and child care expenses.
It is important to understand that child support is not calculated considering a party’s assets, debts, or other liabilities. For example, while a parent may have monthly expenses, such as rent, a car payment, and utilities, the guidelines do not take such obligations into consideration.
This blog post is only intended to be informative and is not a substitute for comprehensive legal advice. For legal advice pertaining to child support or your specific case, please call my office at 319-260-2096 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org