Child Support Matters and COVID-19 Announcement

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Child Support Emergency Directive

Urgent Announcement for Child Support Matters and COVID-19

April 2020

From: Families United Action Network

Key issues:     Directive sent to Governor Reynolds with 3 requests

Guide for parents re: child support and exchanges

To Iowans,

We realize that parents across the state of Iowa want to do everything possible to keep their children safe.  Diligently, Families United Action Network is working toward this goal in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis and seeks to preserve and protect the children and families of Iowa during this time.

Families United Action Network actively participates in advocating and lobbying for reform in the family court system.  Due to the onset of COVID-19, and potential impact on parents paying and receiving child support, three key documents have been developed:

Download These Resources. Share Them With Your Friends

1) Directive drafted for Iowa Governor Reynolds

2) Guide for parents

3) Directive drafted for President Trump

Directive drafted for Governor Reynolds (pending her signature)

  1. Court Orders

Parenting plans, Court Orders and exchanges must proceed as ordered. We are requesting Governor Reynolds to mandate that both parents comply with all orders issued by the family court system.  Governor Reynolds to establish appropriate penalties for non-compliance.

  1. Child Support

Child support orders will remain in place. At Families United Action Network, we understand some parents may be unable to pay child support due to quarantine, self-isolation or layoffs.  Temporary modifications for collecting and paying child support may be required for the duration of the COVID-19 emergency.

Note: The physical locations of Child Support Enforcement offices are closed.  Please contact the main office at 888-229-9223 and, or, your personal worker for assistance with child support modification questions. The current expected response time is 4 business days.

  1. Driver’s License Suspension/Bank Levy for Non-payment of Child Support

Iowa Child Support Enforcement Services to halt the automated enforcement actions of orders for a bank levy or driver’s license suspension due to non-payment of child support; Applicable for all new orders for a bank levy, or suspension of a driver’s license, and orders in process following the onset of COVID-19. Guidelines to be determined by Governor Reynolds.

Families United Action Network are aware many parents may be facing economic hardship during the COVID-19 crisis.  We want to lessen the burden on parents facing this scenario.

GUIDE FOR PARENTS

Are you experiencing challenges with child support?

Families United Action Network has been proactive in helping families address child support and parenting time matters since 2014.  We recognize families may be experiencing challenges in paying and receiving child support during the crisis with COVID-19.  Parenting time and exchanges may require extra effort.

FUAN Family Participants have created suggestions for helping everyone during this time. We urge parents experiencing child support and parenting plan challenges to review the following suggestions.  Devising a temporary plan could be helpful during this unprecedented time of COVID-19.

First and foremost is the safety of our children.  We encourage parents to talk with their co-parent and develop a plan for the safeguard of their children. Notably, if one household has symptoms or a confirmed case of COVID-19, and a child not exposed, should remain in the household without the increased risk.  Acknowledging the needs of the child is paramount.

The directive requested from Governor Reynolds will dignify parental compliance with Court Orders for child support, parenting time, and nonpayment of child support.  If you are experiencing parenting time interference, here are several steps you may find useful.

      1. Send a written notice to your co-parent: Court orders issued by the Iowa Family Court are legal documents. No changes shall transpire without a modification order. Consider sending the Directive by Governor Reynolds, upon her signature.
      2. Inform the co-parent in writing:  Acknowledge you will be at the designated exchange location stated in the Order.  Restate the date, time, and place. And, arrive accordingly.
      3. Document all communications: Keep track of all conversations via email, phone, and text. Emailing may be useful as evidence at a potential hearing.
      4. Document the parenting time missed: Note the day of the week, time and if a holiday to help determine makeup time.
      5. Parenting time apps: Utilization of parenting time apps may simplify the process and accommodate the above suggestions.

Iowa Supreme Court issues Orders regarding Parenting Plans during COVID-19 shutdowns.

This post was scheduled for April 1, but before publishing the Iowa Supreme Court issued an Order in line with our first directive request for parenting time. There is still work to be done. Child support was not addressed in this order. The portion of the Order that addresses parenting time is as follows:

6. Child custody, care, or visitation. For purposes of determining a parent’s right of physical custody, care or visitation to a child under a previously entered court order, any custody, visitation or care schedule that is related to a school schedule shall be uniformly interpreted to refer to the school schedule for the school where the child attends that was in place prior to any school closure or suspension caused by the COVID-19 virus.

Custody, care or visitation of a child shall follow a schedule as if school is in session and shall not be impacted or modified by the school closure. A school closure caused by the COVID-19 virus does not extend or modify a parent’s custody, care or visitation beyond any period designated in a prior court order. A school closure caused by the COVID-19 virus does not amount to an extension of spring break or the beginning of summer break. A parent currently exercising custody, care or visitation of a child in violation of a court order should immediately return the child to the original court ordered schedule.

Nothing contained in this order prevents both parents of a minor child from mutually agreeing to modify a previous court order. Nothing contained in this order prevents a court from altering, amending, modifying, clarifying or enforcing court orders within its sound discretion and consistent with the law of this State. Further, this order does not limit the ability of the court to hear and address emergency matters on a case-by-case basis in the discretion of the court.

7. The court temporarily suspends the operation of any Iowa Court Rule or statute to the extent that it is contrary to any provisions of this order.

8. The court will continue to monitor circumstances and update this order as necessary.

THE SUPREME COURT OF IOWA
Susan Larson Christensen, Chief Justice
________________________________

Petitions to help parents through COVID-19. Please take a moment to sign them.

Please sign the Petition for President Trump

Please sign the Petition for Governor Reynolds

Special Thanks and Acknowledgment to the following for writing these petitions and letters:

Ruth A. S. Nichols, M.A., M.A., CFLE (Certified Family Life Educator)
Ruth's Website is Shared Parenting Info 

Her Facebook Page is Shared Parenting Info

Nicholas Dreeszen, FUAN President


Related Resources

Follow these links to external websites for more information.

Statement from the Michigan Supreme Court on Matters Concerning Children
New order clarifies how extended school closures affect child custody
Fix Family Courts Divorce and Family Law Reform
California Child Support Services – Covid-19 Updates
The stimulus check won't be in the mail for Americans who owe child support
“Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act” or the “CARES Act”
IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES—116th Cong., 2d Sess. H. R. 748
Trump Temporarily Suspends Payments On Federal Student Loans

This last link talks about President Trump suspending student loan payments. Those payments are dealt with in the same section of Title IV as child support… therefore he could do the same thing for child support. (Yes federal only)

Updated 2020.0403