The Child Support Process


Anyone who has a child support and/or medical support order, or wants to establish one, can apply for child support enforcement services by completing an application form. After the application form is signed, the child support process begins. Child support services are provided to all customers at no cost.

Parents who receive public assistance (TANF), including Medi-Cal, will automatically be referred to the Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) by the Department of Human Services.

Select the above links to follow the steps that DCSS follows to collect support from the noncustodial parent.

Step 1:Open a Child Support Case

Either parent, or the caretaker/guardian of a child, may open a child support case by completing an application. DCSS will also open a case for any individual receiving TANF and/or Medi-Cal who has been referred by the Department of Human Services. The more information the custodial party gives about the case, the better service DCSS can provide.

Step 2:Locate the Parent

To establish an order for support, establish paternity or enforce a child support order, DCSS must know where the noncustodial parent lives or works. DCSS will make every effort to locate the noncustodial parent.

Step 3: Establish Paternity

If paternity (fatherhood) has not been established, DCSS will take the necessary steps to establish paternity. Paternity must be established before child and medical support can be ordered by the court.

Paternity can be established in several ways. Both parents can sign a Declaration of Paternity or a legal agreement (stipulation). Either parent can request genetic testing, which can by arranged by DCSS. If the alleged father refuses to cooperate, the court can establish paternity.

Step 4: Establish a Support Order

If a court order for child support does not already exist, and the noncustodial parent is located, an order will be sought by DCSS and established by the court based on both parent's ability to pay support, the amount of time the child spends with each parent, and the financial needs of the child.

DCSS will also request that the court require the noncustodial parent to provide health insurance for the child.

The court will order the noncustodial parent to provide health insurance if it is available at a reasonable cost.

Step 5: Enforcement of Support Orders

If the noncustodial parent does not comply with the terms of the court order, DCSS will determine what additional steps should be taken. These may include garnishing wages, credit reporting, license suspension, passport denial, property liens, tax intercepts, bank levies, or property seizure.