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North Iowa attorney David Grooters explains child support options for parents

Publisher’s note: NIT published an editorial earlier Wednesday morning submitted by a reader about his views on how child support ought to be spent. We asked local attorney David A. Grooters, an expert in divorce, adoption and other legal proceedings, to weigh in on the subject for our readers and how the rules are currently structured.

grooters_dave(Submitted to by Mason City attorney David A. Grooters)

How Must Child Support Money Be Spent?

The title to this article suggests that money received for child support ought to be spent or should be spent in a certain manner and solely for the support of the child. In reality, there are absolutely no legal restrictions on what manner child support funds received must be spent by the payee. Does this mean that the child support payee can spend the money on beer? Cigarettes? Clothes for the payee? Lottery tickets? The answer to all of these questions is “yes.”

Child support has been a part of the law in not only the United States, but also parts of the entire world, for over 200 years. The historical rational behind obligating a noncustodial parent to provide financial support for the custodial parent was to keep the custodial parent and the child/children out of destitution. Having a financially unstable parent was deemed to be not in a child’s or family’s best interests for obvious reasons including the fact that in some points in history there were debtor’s prisons which would result in the unavailability of the custodial parent. The basic point was the child support would help support the basic needs of the family (e.g., food, water, shelter, clothing, etc.).

Iowa Law provides that a child is owed a duty of support by both parents. This applies to both unmarried (Iowa Code Section 600B.1) or married (Iowa Code Section 598.21B) parents. From a practical standpoint, child support is calculated using the Iowa Child Support Guidelines found in the Code of Iowa and Iowa Rules of the Court. The income and other information of both parties is entered into a formula which “spits out” the amount that the noncustodial parent has to pay. There is additionally “medical support” which is payable to the custodial parent by the noncustodial parent to assist with providing health insurance or equivalent coverage for the child/children. As noted, the law makes absolutely no restrictions on how money is spent by the custodial parent.

The area of family law includes the imposition and modification of child support. The Child Support Recovery Unit was established to help parties establish, enforce, and modify child support orders. If you or someone you know has questions regarding this process or any other family law/child support questions, please feel free to contact the undersigned at your convenience.

David A. Grooters is a Mason City attorney practicing in areas including adoption law with the law firm of Pappajohn, Shriver, Eide & Nielsen P.C. He can be reached at his office at 103 East State Street, Suite 800, Mason City, Iowa, via phone at (641) 423-4264, (641) 423-3145 (fax), or

The firm’s website is:

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