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Child Custody and Support in Military Divorce: Iowa's Guidelines


Divorce is a challenging process for any couple, but it can be even more complex when one or both spouses are members of the military. In such cases, child custody and support matters can become particularly intricate due to the unique circumstances and lifestyle associated with military service.

Understanding how child custody and support are handled in military divorces is crucial for service members and their families. In the state of Iowa, specific guidelines exist to address these issues and ensure the best interests of the child are protected. Let's explore child custody and support in military divorce cases under Iowa's guidelines.

Child Custody in Military Divorce

Child custody, also known as parenting time, refers to the allocation of parental rights and responsibilities after a divorce. When one or both parents are serving in the military, the frequent relocations and deployments can complicate matters. In Iowa, the courts aim to make custody decisions that are in the child's best interests, considering factors such as the child's relationship with each parent, the stability of the home environment, and the child's adjustment to their community, school, and daily routine.

Iowa follows a joint custody preference, which means that both parents are encouraged to share the rights and responsibilities of raising their child. However, if joint custody is not feasible or not in the child's best interests, the court may grant sole custody to one parent. In military divorce cases, the court may consider factors specific to military service, such as the parent's deployment schedule and the availability of suitable caretakers during deployment periods.

It is essential for military parents to have a well-thought-out parenting plan that addresses potential deployment and relocation scenarios. This plan should outline how the parents will handle custody during deployments, including visitation schedules and arrangements for the noncustodial parent to maintain contact with the child. Flexibility and communication between both parents are key to ensuring a smooth transition for the child and maintaining a healthy parent-child relationship.

Child Support in Military Divorce

Child support is another crucial aspect of divorce cases involving military service members. Iowa has established child support guidelines to determine the appropriate amount of support based on the parents' income and the needs of the child. These guidelines apply to both civilian and military parents, ensuring fairness and consistency in child support determinations.

When calculating child support for military parents, it is important to consider the unique aspects of military pay. Military service members often receive additional allowances and benefits, such as housing allowances, combat pay, and special duty pay. These allowances may be included as income when calculating child support, depending on the circumstances and the court's discretion. It is essential to consult with an experienced family law attorney to ensure accurate calculations and to navigate the complexities of military pay structures.

Moreover, military parents should be aware of the potential impact of deployments and temporary duty assignments on child support obligations. If a service member's income is significantly reduced due to deployment or other military-related circumstances, they may request a temporary modification of child support to reflect their changed financial situation. However, it is crucial to promptly inform the court and provide supporting documentation to avoid falling behind on child support payments.

In Iowa, child support obligations typically continue until the child reaches the age of 18 or graduates from high school, whichever comes later. However, if a child is disabled or has special needs, child support may continue beyond these milestones. It is crucial for military parents to fulfill their child support obligations and maintain open communication with the custodial parent and the court, especially during times of deployment or other military-related challenges.


Navigating child custody and support matters in military divorces can be complex, but understanding Iowa's guidelines can help military service members and their families ensure the best interests of their children are protected. The courts in Iowa prioritize the child's well being and aim to make custody decisions that promote the child's stability and healthy development. Military parents should create a comprehensive parenting plan that addresses the challenges associated with military service, including deployments and relocations.

When it comes to child support, Iowa follows established guidelines that consider the income of both parents, including any additional allowances and benefits received by military service members. It is crucial for military parents to accurately report their income and provide supporting documentation to ensure a fair and appropriate child support determination. In cases where a service member's income is affected by deployment or other military-related circumstances, temporary modifications may be requested to adjust child support obligations accordingly.

Maintaining open communication and cooperation between both parents is essential in military divorce cases. Flexibility, understanding, and a shared commitment to the child's best interests are vital in ensuring a smooth transition and promoting a healthy parent-child relationship.

If you are facing a military divorce and have concerns about child custody and support, it is highly recommended to seek the guidance of an experienced family law attorney. They can provide the necessary expertise and support to navigate the complexities of military divorce and help you achieve the best possible outcome for you and your child.

At The Law Offices of Mark R. Hinshaw, PLC, we understand the unique challenges faced by military families going through divorce. Our team is dedicated to providing compassionate and knowledgeable legal representation to service members and their families in Iowa. We are well-versed in the state's guidelines regarding child custody and support in military divorces and will work diligently to protect your rights and the best interests of your child.

In conclusion, child custody and support in military divorces in Iowa are governed by specific guidelines designed to safeguard the child's well-being. By understanding these guidelines and seeking the assistance of a skilled family law attorney, military service members can navigate the complexities of divorce while ensuring the best interests of their children are prioritized. Remember, you don't have to face this challenging process alone. The Law Offices of Mark R. Hinshaw, PLC are here to help you every step of the way.