Iowa House bill would have child support period start at pregnancy

DES MOINES — A bill that would let court-ordered child support extend to the nine months of a pregnancy has cleared an Iowa House subcommittee.

Representative John Wills, a Republican from Spirit Lake, is the bill’s lead sponsor.  “I’m very passionate about this,” Wills says. “We’ve got to take care of that baby before it’s born. If we do, it’s going to be a better, healthier baby, in better shape to be able to take on the world. The mother is going to be able to finish school. The mother’s going to be able to do all these things, have less stress on her life. It is going to be better for all and maybe we can even keep women off the welfare system because they’ve got this extra support.”

If the bill becomes law, once paternity is established, a judge could order the father to retroactively provide financial support during the entire pregnancy. Wills says no other state has taken this step to force men to support their child from the moment of conception.

“Parenthood is a two person situation,” Wills says. “It takes two people to create a baby and, right now, that dad is just getting off the hook.”

Wills says if the bill becomes law, a court could order the father to provide health insurance coverage to the mother during the pregnancy. Under current practice, judges consider the income both parents earn in determining child support — after the child is born.