Child Support Process

Understanding Child Support

We partner with parents and the community in delivering reliable services and work to make a positive difference in the lives of children. We work with both parents to help provide the best situation for children through San Bernardino County. Children do better when both parents are involved, even when they are no longer together.

HOW WE CAN WORK TOGETHER:

  • Establish legal parentage
  • Establish an order for child and/or medical support
  • Keep record of your payments
  • Review orders if your income, custody or family size has changed
  • Connect you with other community resources

Child Support Services

What services does the Department of Child Support help with?

  • Locating Parents
  • Establishing paternity (legal fatherhood)
  • Establishing/maintaining support orders
  • Enforcing orders in other states or countries

Services DO NOT include

  • crossedDivorce
  • crossedCustody
  • crossedVisitation

The Child Support Process

Three hands of family. Love, togetherness, happiness in family concept
Important:
  • checkedAll printed applications must be signed in blue or black ink.
  • checkedGather as much information as possible. The more information you provide helps us expedite the child support process. If a divorce order or other court order for support exists, please be sure to provide a copy with your application.
  • checkedApproximately 20 business days after we receive your application, you will receive notification in the mail informing you that your case is open.

Who can Open A Case?

  • checkedParent that has the child(ren)
  • checkedParent paying support
  • checkedCaretaker – Non-parent who has the child in their custody
  • checkedLegal guardian

Ways to Open A Case

  • checkedApply online.
  • checkedIf you are on public assistance CalWORKs (California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids) a case will automatically open for you.
  • checkedSubmit the completed application and all accompanying forms in person or via mail at:

Department of Child Support Services
10417 Mountain View Ave.
Loma Linda, CA 92354

For more information on Parent Resources, please visit our Resources for Parents page.

Overjoyed african American young family with little kids have fun playing relaxing on sofa in living room, happy biracial parents entertain with small children tickle laugh, enjoy weekend together

Important

  • checkedIf paternity of the child(ren) is at issue, the court may order free genetic (DNA) testing. Testing is available at all Child Support locations with an appointment.
  • checkedIf you have questions about establishing parentage or genetic testing, please contact a child support professional by email or call (866) 901-3212.

Paternity and Establishing Parentage

When a child is born to unmarried parents, the child does not have the same rights for access to benefits as a child born to married parents. Additionally, unmarried parents do not automatically have the rights of a parent and may not be named on the birth certificate.

Parentage vs. Paternity
  • checkedParentage: This is the recognition of a parent’s legal relationship to a child.
  • checkedPaternity:  This is the legal definition of fatherhood.
Establishing Parentage

There are two options to establish parentage and legal responsibility:

  • checkedVoluntary Declaration of Parentage (VDOP) both parents can sign a VDOP form in the hospital form, welfare office, county clerk, or child support office to establish paternity. This is a free and easy way to establish paternity without having to go to court.
  • checkedCourt Order of Parentage – a court order to legally establish parentage

For more information on Parent Resources, please visit our Resources for Parents page.

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Summons and Complaint

The paying parent will be served with a Summons and Complaint packet that will include a proposed child support amount based on the State guidelines . The guidelines provide a standard formula for determining the child support amount, although the court may change the amount under limited circumstance. Children thrive when both parents support their child(ren).

Establishing an Order

To establish paternity, obtain a support order, or collect child support, our office must know where the paying parent lives or works. By providing our office with as much information as possible, you can help locate the paying parent and speed up the child support process.

If the paying parent is located, and there is no court order, we will file a legal action in court obtain an order for child and medical support.

Support Factors

To determine the correct child support amount, the court uses a Statewide Uniform Guideline.
Child Support is based on the following factors:

  • checkedThe number of children involved
  • checkedBoth parents’ incomes and tax filing status
  • checkedThe amount of time each parent spends with the child (visitation)
  • checkedCost of health insurance
  • checkedCost of childcare

Proceedings for an order

A child support order is established in the following ways:

Agreement by the Parents (Stipulation)

If both parents reach an agreement on the amount of child support, you will sign a stipulation and will not be required to go to court. By signing the stipulation, the parents agree to all items that apply: fatherhood/parentage, the amount of child support and health insurance. The stipulation will be filed with the court.

Court Hearing

If the parents do not agree or the paying parent files an answer, the amount of child support will be decided by the court. Both parents will be notified of the hearing by mail.

Default Judgment

If the paying parent does not file an answer or appear in court, the court will enter a default judgment. The court may enter a default judgment and set the child support amount without your input.

Establishing Medical Support

California law requires parents to provide health insurance (medical, dental, and vision) for the child(ren) if medical insurance is available through an employer at a reasonable cost. Any expenses not covered by insurances may be shared by the parents based on a 50-50 split (50% to each parent) based on the court order.

For more information on Parent Resources, please visit our Resources for Parents page.

People in suits at a table, in court with gavel.

Court Proceedings

When you arrive at court, the following will happen:

  • checkedPre-hearing Meeting (Meet and Confer) – Prior to the hearing, both parents will meet with a department representative. If either parent is represented by an attorney, that attorney must be present. If both parents are able to reach an agreement during that meeting, then a court hearing may not be needed. A stipulation (or agreement) will be prepared for both parents to sign. Once the court approves the stipulation, the agreement becomes a valid court order.
  • checkedCourt Hearing – If the parents cannot reach an agreement, a child support Commissioner will decide. Please note that the department’s Child Support attorney does not represent either party. If one of the parents does not attend the hearing, a decision could be made without that person.

Court Documents

The court will need proof of your income and other factors to use to calculate how much child support should be paid.
Bring the following documents to court:

  • checkedProof of child care expenses
  • checkedProof Proof of child support and/or spousal support paid by you for any other relationship

Tips for Court Appearance

The following tips provide guidance in regards to your appearance, behavior as well as court expectations.

File Paperwork

Carefully review, complete, file and serve the required paperwork (including any Responses or Answers) with the court before your hearing. Bring verification of income, medical insurance and proof of childcare costs (i.e. receipts).

Be on Time

Arrive at least 15 minutes before your scheduled court hearing. If you are running late, you must call the court or your case may move forward without your input or the hearing may be cancelled.

Be Respectful

You may have the opportunity to speak to the Child Support Commissioner to explain your situation. Direct your comments to the Commissioner only, not the other parent.

Prepare to Stay All Day

The court conducts many hearings. Be prepared to stay the entire day.

Dress to Impress

Dress nicely. Tank tops, shorts, sandals and hats are not allowed in the courtroom.

Representation

No one except you or your attorney may represent you in court.

Courthouse Locations
Barstow Court House

To request a continuance/running late: (Call by 7:45am)

235 E Mountain View Street
Barstow, CA 92311
Phone:
760-718-3734

For more information on Parent Resources, please visit our Resources for Parents page.

Parent Receiving Child Support

Receiving Payments

The State Disbursement Unit (SDU) provides the following options for receiving support payments:

  • checkedDirect Deposit – Direct Deposit will allow you to receive your payments directly into a checking or savings account.
  • checkedElectronic Pay Card (EPC) – Payments can be received on an EPC. This card can be used everywhere MasterCard is accepted.

Register For Direct Deposit and Electronic Pay Card

With the EPC, you can receive support payments easier, faster and have access to the funds 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

To register

  • checkedCall – State Disbursement Unit at (866) 901-3212, Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • checkedMail – Complete Direct Deposit Authorization form and mail to the California Department of Child Support Services at:

Department of Child Support Services
P.O. Box 989064,
West Sacramento, CA 95798-9064

Parent Paying Child Support

Customer Connect

  • Update contact information
  • Get payment history and information
  • Print child support forms
  • Change Customer Connect PIN

Payment Options

The button below, will send you to a page with more information about the multiple payment options available to parents.

If you have questions about any of the payment options, please contact a child support professional by email from within Customer Connect  or by phone at (866) 901-3212.

For more information on Parent Resources, please visit our Resources for Parents page.

Little children putting their hands together indoors, top view. Unity concept

Enforcing a Child Support Order

Enforcing a Child Support Order can be implemented in various ways, depending on an individuals specific circumstances.

Please consider

Current support is collected until the child reaches the age of majority in California which is eighteen; however, if the child is a full-time high school student, support extends to the date of graduation or nineteenth birthday, whichever occurs first.

Collection Tools

The following Collection Tools, are actions that can be taken to obtain payment of a child family, medical, or spousal support obligation contained in a child support order.

Income Withholding Order

All child support orders are paid through an IWO, also known as a wage assignment. The IWO is required by law. If the parent paying child support has a job, the IWO is sent to his/her employer. The employer must deduct the amount in the IWO under 5% of gross income to add the child(ren) and send it directly to the State Disbursement Unit (SDU). If the paying parent is self-employed or works for cash, they make payments directly to the SDU, and other collection tools are used.

Workers’ Compensation

When a paying parent has a Workers’ Compensation claim, up to 25% of ongoing temporary disability benefits can be withheld by the Income Withholding Order to pay current support and arrears. A lien may also be filed with the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB) for any arrears that accumulated from the date the paying parent was injured.

License Suspension

Delinquent child support cases are reported to all state licensing boards. The paying parent’s application for a new or renewed state-issued driver, business and/or professional licenses (for example cosmetologist, contractor, doctor, teacher, attorney) will be denied if payment arrangements have not been made with our department.

Bank Levy

A request can be submitted to take money from a bank account, Individual Retirement Accounts, and other financial securities. Bank levies sent to the financial institution requesting the full amount of the arrears owed. Process fees do not come to the department, and money is not eligible for a refund.

If you have questions about collections, please contact a child support professional by email from within Customer Connect  or by phone at (866) 901-3212.

For more information on Parent Resources, please visit our Resources for Parents page.

Family Care, Protection And Insurance Concept. Portrait of smiling African American parents making symbolic roof of hands above their happy children, sitting on the floor carpet in living room at home
Requirements to Modify an Existing Order

If you have a change in one of the following, you can request a modification.

  • checkedYou are laid off or fired from a job
  • checkedYou get a new or additional job
  • checkedYour income or the other parent’s income increases or decreases
  • checkedYour custody or visitation changes
  • checkedYour family size changes
  • checkedYou become disabled
  • checkedYou go to jail or prison
  • checkedYou are deployed to active military service

If you have multiple child support cases, all will be reviewed.

Changing a Child Support Order

A change to a child support order is a modification. Either parent can ask for a change to the order.

The Modification Process
  • checkedThe department sends paperwork to both parties requesting information and verification of income, health insurance, and custody information. Once the completed packets are returned, your case manager will review the information to determine if your order qualifies for DCSS to file a motion requesting that the court order be changed.
  • checkedTo qualify to have your motion completed by the department, the current support must change by at least $50 or 20%, whichever is less.
  • checkedVisit, child support calculation page, to see if you qualify. (Button below)
  • checkedIf the parties agree to the new amount, DCSS can complete a signed agreement, or stipulation, and file it with the court. Once filed, the stipulation will become the new court order, and the parents will not need to appear in court.
  • checkedIf either parent disagrees with the new amount, a court hearing will be set.

If you have questions about modification, please contact a child support professional by email from within Customer Connect  or by phone at (866) 901-3212.

For more information on Parent Resources, please visit our Resources for Parents page.

Father pushing kids in a wheel barrel outside. Smiling children.

Closing A Child Support Case

You may be eligible for a case closure. To request that DCSS stop enforcing your court order, your case must meet the following criteria. Please read below:

DCSS closing your case

The department may initiate closure of a case for any of the following reasons:

  • checkedA current child support order no longer exists.
  • checkedThe paying parent has died and a levy on the estate cannot be enforced.
  • checkedPaternity cannot be established because genetic tests exclude the man as the father.
  • checkedThe child is over age 18 and paternity was not established.
  • checkedIt is in the best interest of the child to close the case because of child endangerment.
  • checkedThe biological father cannot be identified after strong efforts are made to identify him.
  • checkedThe paying parent is in prison without possibility of parole.
  • checkedThe paying parent is permanently disabled with no attachable assets.
  • checkedNon-public assistance custodial parent is uncooperative.
  • checkedUnable to locate parent.

To request that DCSS stop enforcing your court order

A person receiving support can request their case to be reviewed for the purpose of closure. The following information on requesting a stop to a support order and how it applies to different types of support cases.

Public Assistance Cases
  • checkedIf the child(ren) are receiving cash aid, the Department of Child Support Services is required by law to continue to enforce the support order, even if the custodial party does not want our services.
  • checkedIf the child(ren) are receiving cash aid, the Department of Child Support Services is required by law to continue to enforce the support order, even if the custodial party does not want our services. If the child(ren) stop receiving cash aid, we are required to collect the arrears that accumulated while the child(ren) were on aid.
Non-public assistance cases
  • checkedIf you are currently not receiving public assistance, call us or send us your closure request in writing.
Medical Enforcement Only
  • checkedIf the cash aid is stopped, but the child(ren) continue to receive Medi-Cal aid, we will keep the case open for health insurance enforcement.

For more information on Parent Resources, please visit our Resources for Parents page.

Child Support Process Resource Videos

What does CA Child Support Offer?
What does CA Child Support Offer? (Español)
Parentage Opportunity Program
Parentage Opportunity Program (Español)
What should I do when I receive a Summons and Complaint?
¿Qué debo hacer cuando recibo una Citación y Demanda?
How is a child support amount calculated?
¿Cómo se calcula el pago de Child Support?
How can I avoid going to court for child support?
¿Cómo puedo evitar ir a la corte por Child Support?
What are my options for receiving child support payments?
¿Cuáles son mis opciones para obtener pagos de Child Support?
How can I sign up for Direct Deposit?
¿Cómo me inscribo para recibir depósito directo?
My driver's license has been suspended due to child support. How can I get a release?
Mi licencia de conducir ha sido suspendida por Child Support. ¿Cómo la puedo obtener de nuevo?
What should I do if the parent paying support moves away?
¿Qué debo hacer si la persona que paga Child Support se muda?