Blogs from November, 2021

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How is Alimony Determined in Iowa?


Alimony, also referred to as spousal support or maintenance, provides individual financial support during separation and divorce. The support comes from the higher-earning spouse in the relationship. The court orders alimony to be paid using a court order, which makes the debt a legal obligation. When a party fails to comply with a court-ordered support award, they face garnishment, tax refund offset, and other enforcement actions deemed necessary by the court. Once the court awards alimony, it’s legally binding, but support payments are not automatically granted. A judge will review the details of your case and determine the structure of your support award.

There are three types of alimony in Iowa:

  • Rehabilitative
  • Reimbursement
  • Permanent

The court can award rehabilitative alimony, which is a temporary payment used to support a lower-earning or unemployed spouse until they can recover financially. Reimbursement alimony is awarded to spouses who use their income to pay for the educational expenses or career advancement of their spouse. Both rehabilitative and reimbursement alimony are typically awarded temporarily. Permanent alimony is typically paid to a dependent spouse the court thinks may never be able to meet their financial needs. This is often seen in spouses with health or mental issues or who have passed an age where they are able to work.

5 Influential Factors Used to Determine Alimony Awards

There are many factors used by the court to determine the length and amount of an alimony award. Every divorce case is different, and the financial health of the couple will play a significant role in the size and scope of the award.

The court will consider these factors when determining an alimony award:

  • How long the marriage lasted
  • What each party contributed to the marriage
  • Each party’s earning capacity and current income level
  • The education and career background of each party
  • Each party’s age, physical and mental health, and special needs
  • Current employment status of each party, for example, stay at home spouse or parent

Can Alimony Be Modified?

Once an alimony decision has been made, they become part of your legal divorce record. The court tries to be exhaustive in its review of you and your spouse’s financial situation so it can make equitable long-term decisions. The court doesn’t like to revisit issues if it doesn’t have to, but life is dynamic and ever-changing. It’s not realistic that your finances, marital status, or health will remain static. In order to accommodate these changes, Iowa law allows for parties to seek a modification of their alimony order.

Parties can request an alimony modification for several reasons; the most common are:

  • Retirement
  • Out of State Move/ Relocation
  • Layoff/Firing
  • Disability
  • Health Issues
  • Remarriage
  • New Child

Once you submit a request for a modification, it’s important to remember that the court will determine if your modification request rises to the level of significant and lasting circumstance change. The court doesn’t like to change course unless necessary, which is why it’s vitally important to get these issues right the first time. You cannot forecast the future with any accuracy, so in instances where you have a change of life circumstance, a modification is your best avenue for a change to your alimony order.

Thorough and Experienced Iowa Family Law Attorney

If you need alimony during your separation and post-divorce, it’s imperative that you put together a complete picture of your financial situation. A thorough and experienced attorney will help ensure no stone is left unturned in your case. Call us today at (515) 200-7571 to schedule a consultation, or you can use our online contact form to request more information.