There are 49 child support agencies across California that establish and enforce child support and medical support orders. Either parent or any guardian of a child can open a child support case, whether or not there is an existing child support order, and a case is automatically opened when a child receives public assistance. All case services are handled at this county or regional level and all child support-related questions should be first routed to the agency in your county or region of residence.

Having a case with Child Support Services creates a record of all child support payments, provides a neutral go-between for parents, and can help both parents avoid court and assist with navigating the child support systemChild Support Services staff act in the public interest and do not represent either side of a child support case. A complete list of services provided can be found here; these services are provided at little or no cost.  

If you are thinking of opening a case, or have been named in a child support case, contact us right away. Your local agency can help both of you know what to expect, and will work with you to make the child support process as stress-free as possible.  We can even help you work out an agreement for child support and avoid court.

The 10 Steps of the Child Support Case Process*

*If you already have a court order for child support and need to have that order enforced, you must first open a case with Child Support Services.

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Apply for Child Support Services

Either parent can apply for support or open a child support services case, as can a child’s legal guardian. 

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Locate the Parents if Necessary

Before a child support order can be made, both parents of the child or children must be located.

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Summons & Complaint

The parent being asked to pay will be legally notified that they are named in a child support case.

click on icon to learn more about the establish legal paternity step.

Establish Legal Paternity

If named in a case, you have the right to request proof of legal paternity and we will help you free of charge.

 

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Create a "Stipulated Agreement"

If both parents can agree on an amount, they can avoid court by filing a “Stipulated Agreement.”

 

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Court Sets the Child Support Order

A judge or commissioner reviews your information and decides on a child support amount. 

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Begin Making Payments

After a child support order is set, payments are scheduled to begin, usually by payroll deduction.

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Enforce the Child Support Order

Parents who refuse to pay or delay paying their child support face enforcement actions and interest charges.

 

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Change the Child Support Order

If either party has a change in circumstances after child support is set, they may qualify for “modification.”

 

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Closing a Child Support Case

There are many reasons why a child support case can be closed.