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The basics of alimony law in Iowa

On Behalf of | Feb 10, 2021 | Family law |

Alimony, or spousal support, is the legal obligation of individuals to financially support their former partners after separation or divorce. Its purpose is to offset unfair economic difficulties non-employed or low-income people may suffer as a result. 

Individuals whose marriages are ending often have questions about alimony. Iowa has specific laws regarding it. 

1. What are the types of spousal support?

The three recognized forms of spousal support in the Hawkeye State are rehabilitative, traditional and reimbursement. The first kind is temporary. It applies in cases where one spouse has sacrificed a career for the good of the family. It exists to sustain the ex-partners until they have gained the necessary skills, knowledge or training to rejoin the workforce and support themselves. The assumption is that they are capable of doing so. The second is for those unable to become self-supporting due to illness, age or other issues. Judges typically assign it to former stay-at-home parents who had long marriages. The third type is rarer than the other two. It is compensation for if one of the mates bore the financial burden of the other’s career development. For example, one might have put the other through medical or law school. 

2. What determines the amount?

Many considerations go into calculating the alimony amount, including marriage length, earning ability, age, health and more. Because Iowa is a no-fault divorce state, extra-marital affairs do not affect it. Judges do not factor in the reason for the marriage’s end or who is responsible for it. 

3. How long do you need to pay?

Courts decide the payment lengths. The duration often depends on the type of maintenance and each person’s circumstances. For instance, while traditional support is more permanent, it ends when the one awarded it undergoes a significant life change like remarriage. 

It is legal in Iowa to waive alimony rights in prenuptial agreements. However, the presence of such a waiver may motivate the judge to throw out the contract, as they are wary of anything that may result in inequitable distribution.