Recent Changes to Child Support Laws
By Evelyn Ocheltree, Senior Staff Attorney at Iowa Legal Aid and serves on the Child Support Advisory Committee.
In 2015 SF 500 amended portions of the Iowa child support law. The major change makes it easier to suspend child support under 252B.20.
For several years it has been possible to stop a current support order if both parties agreed and certain other requirements were met. This is called suspension of support and is done through the Child Support Recovery Unit (CSRU). A new section was added creating 252B.20A and, as of January 1, 2016, both parties no longer have to agree to the suspension. Now, if just one of the parties wants to stop the order, it may be possible to do so. (See Sec. 120 of SF 500). Certain requirements must be met. These include:
- The child is currently living with the party ordered to pay support (the Obligor) and has been living with the Obligor for more than 60 consecutive days.
- There is no custody order in place.
- The child is not receiving public assistance (FIP or Medicaid) unless the Obligor is part of the same household as the child.
- It is reasonable to expect that the basis for suspension will continue for not less than six months.
- The Obligor signs a notarized affidavit and it is submitted to CSRU.
- No prior suspension has been requested during the previous two years.
After the application has been submitted, CSRU makes a decision about whether all these requirements have been met. If not, the request is denied and the Obligor is notified in writing why. This decision cannot be appealed.
If the requirements are met, CSRU notifies the Obligee. Notification can be through certified mail or by personal service.
The Obligee then has 20 days to object in writing by telling CSRU in a notarized statement that one or more of the requirements have not been met. If the Obligee does object, the request to suspend child support will be denied and both parties are notified in writing. This notice will also inform both parties that they can still file something with the Court on their own or through their own attorney.
If the Obligee does not object, CSRU prepares an order, no sooner than 30 days after service on the Obligee, for the Judge to sign which temporarily suspends ongoing or accruing support. During the six months after the temporary suspension is signed, either party, or CSRU, can ask for reinstatement of the child support. The application to reinstate is mailed to the other person who then has 10 days to object. If an objection is filed, a hearing is scheduled.
If no application to reinstate is filed within six months, the temporary suspension automatically becomes permanent and the child support order is terminated. Under Sec. 122 CSRU was given time to adopt rules pursuant to Chapter 17A as needed to administer this division. Until they do, their current procedures and forms for 252B.20 can be used.
The second change in the law involves genetic testing under 252F.6 and 600B.41(Sections 124 and 125). Generally, if a person contests paternity, genetic testing is ordered and the alleged father, the mother and the child all have to comply with testing. Because of the change in the law, a mother and child who have already given genetic samples in a previous case against a different putative father, do not have to give them again. Instead, the ones submitted previously can be used, if they are available.
The last change concerns international collection of child support and takes up the bulk of SF 500. Under Iowa Code 252K, the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act, orders from different states can be enforced in Iowa and Iowa orders can be enforced in other states. 252K was amended to comply with the 2007 Hauge Convention on the International Recovery of Child Support, the 2008 amendments to the UIFSA approved by the national conference of commissioners on uniform laws and the 2014 Federal law implementing the convention – Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act. (See Pub. L. No. 113-183) This law extends jurisdiction and enforcement of the orders of parties from the U.S. seeking enforcement in foreign countries. The goal is to help ensure that more family support orders issued in the U.S. are recognized and enforced abroad. A number of definitions such as “responding” or “initiating tribunal” and “home state” were expanded to include “foreign country”. Several sections of the bill make conforming changes throughout the Code based on these changes to chapter 252K. These last two changes were effective on July 1, 2015.
Iowa Legal Aid provides free legal assistance to low-income Iowans in all 99 counties with civil legal problems involving basic necessities and safety. Information about civil legal issues is available on Iowa Legal Aid’s websites, www.iowalegalaid.org and www.probono.net/iowa. Probono.net/iowa is a free, members-only site that provides a comprehensive collection of information on legal topics, upcoming events including continuing legal education opportunities, and resources on civil law practice for members of Iowa’s justice community.