- Obtaining an Order for Support
- Setting a Hearing - Filing a Request for Order
- 7 Step Child Support Roadmap
- Serving the Department of Child Support Services
- Responding to a Request for Order
- Enforcement of Child Support Orders
- Determining Your Child Support Arrears
- Reinstating your Driver License
- Frequently Asked Questions
Obtaining an Order for Support
To obtain an order for child support, you need to have an active case with the court. If there is no existing case, you need to file one of the following:
- If you are married to the other parent, you may file a petition for divorce, legal separation or nullity.
- If you are not married to the other parent, you may file a petition to establish parental relationship. A parentage action can be filed by either the mother or father. If you file a parentage action yourself, you can request orders for custody and visitation as well as child support.
- A Petition for Custody and Support of Minor Children (this petition will not terminate your marriage or establish a parental relationship) is also an option where parentage has already been established.
You have several alternatives available to assist you in obtaining a support order:
- You can contact an attorney for legal advice or to represent you by looking in the telephone book or by calling the Lawyer Referral and Information Service - external link at 916-564-6707.
- You may contact the Department of Child Support Services (DCSS). - external link DCSS can help you with child support only and not with any other family law issues such as child custody, property division, or a divorce. DCSS is located at 3701 Power Inn Road. You may contact DCSS in person or by telephone at 866-901-3212.
- You may represent yourself. If you decide to represent yourself, it may be helpful to visit the Self-Help Center located in Room 113 of the William R. Ridgeway Family Relations Courthouse. The Self-Help Center is available to provide information regarding court procedures and instructions on completing, filing and serving the necessary documents. The Self-Help Center offers an Income and Expense Declaration Workshop.
Determining the Amount of Child Support
If you want to know the amount of child support that would be payable under the California State Child Support Guideline, you may contact an attorney or go to the California Department of Child Support Services - external link.
Health and Daycare Costs
When you apply for child support, you may also request the other parent share in the health care insurance and unreimbursed or uncovered health care costs for your child or children. You may also request that child care costs be shared or paid by the other parent.
Setting a Hearing - Filing a Request for Order
You can file a Request for Order to:
- Ask for child support order(s) when filing a petition to establish a parental relationship, or for divorce, legal separation or nullity or after a case has been opened.
- Ask for modification of an existing order for support.
- Ask to stop a child support order after the child has emancipated.
These forms are used to request a hearing regarding child support:
If you have been ordered to file a new Income and Expense Declaration, use this packet:
You may also use this program to complete and print your court forms for filing: Guide and File - external link
Serving the Department of Child Support Services
If the Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) is a party on your case, a copy will be collected by the Court and served on the DCSS. Provide an extra set of copies of your documents to the clerk for this purpose.
Enforcement of Child Support Orders
If the other parent fails to pay court-ordered child support, you have several options available. First, you must decide if you want to proceed on your own, hire an attorney, or engage the services of the Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) - external link. DCSS is available to assist both self-represented and represented parties.
If you choose to have DCSS enforce your support orders, they can do all of the same things you can as well as issue administrative orders such as suspension of the other parent's driver license and/or any other license they may hold as well as intercept tax refunds or place liens on bank accounts. Additionally, in the case of willful failure to pay child support, DCSS may file contempt charges against the other parent.
Determining Your Child Support Arrears
If there is an issue regarding back support, and you need to know how much you owe or how much the other party owes, you can ask the court to determine the amount owing. To request a hearing to ask the court for an arrears determination, you must complete the following forms:
Reinstating your Driver License
If your driver license has been suspended or renewal denied due to your failure to pay child support, you may contact the Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) - external link, located at 3701 Power Inn Road (across the street from the front entrance of the William R. Ridgeway Family Relations Courthouse.) You may also contact DCSS by telephone at (866) 901-3212.
If DCSS denies your request to have your license reinstated, you may then file a Notice of Motion for Judicial Review of License Denial (FL-670), and an Income and Expense Declaration (FL-150).
Frequently Asked Questions
Is my spouse's income going to be counted for child support?
Generally, the court will only use the parents' income for calculation of child support. However, the court can inquire about your spouse's income for the purpose of setting taxes, and in unusual cases, for other purposes.
How do I stop the Wage and Earning Assignment Order/Notice to Withhold Income for Child Support, if the child is over 18 years of age and out of high school?
If you do not owe child support arrears and you have no minor children with the same parent, you can file an Ex Parte Application for Wage and Earnings Assignment Order with proof of the child's age and education. If you owe arrears or there are other minor children, seek legal assistance.
Do I still have to pay child support if I have a 50/50 custody?
If you earn more than the other parent, you may still have to pay child support.
Will the court consider that I have other children to support?
The court can consider other court orders for child support and may give you credit for children in your home that you are supporting.
Generally, you cannot receive credit for step-children, foster children or grandchildren.
Will my support go down if I have the child(ren) more often?
The amount of time that the children are in your custody is a factor in calculating child support. Generally speaking, the more time you have the children, the lower your child support because you are supporting them directly when they are in your care.
How long do I have to pay child support?
Until the child is 18 years of age, if he or she has already graduated from high school. If your 18-year-old child is still a full time high school student residing with a parent, the child support is payable until your child graduates or reaches 19 years of age, or your child marries, dies, becomes self-supporting or emancipates.
Can I get rid of the interest accruing on the back child support I owe?
The court cannot reduce or forgive interest on past due child support. Consult an attorney or the Department of Child Support Services - external link.
How do I stop them from taking half my paycheck?
By law, your employer can take up to 50% of your net income to satisfy a child support order. If this does not leave you with enough money to support yourself or the children in your care, you can file a Request for Order to ask the Court to reduce your child support amount and/or the payment on arrears.
What if the other party does not pay child support?
If a wage assignment was not already issued, you may submit one directly to the court and have it served on the employer once it has been signed by the judge. You may also contact the Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) - external link, located at 3701 Power Inn Road, who will help any parent, regardless of income and at no cost, to enforce child support orders. You do not have to be on public assistance to get help from DCSS.