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Interested in learning more about the child support case process?
These are the 10 steps*
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.
Locate the Parents if Necessary
Before a child support order can be made, both parents of the child or children must be located.
Summons & Complaint
The parent being asked to pay will be legally notified that they are named in a child support case.
Establish Legal Parentage
If named in a case, you have the right to request proof of legal parentage and we will help you free of charge.
Create a "Stipulated Agreement"
If both parents can agree on an amount, they can avoid court by filing a “Stipulated Agreement.”
Court Sets the Child Support Order
A judge or commissioner reviews your information and decides on a child support amount.
Begin Making Payments
After a child support order is set, payments are scheduled to begin, usually by payroll deduction.
Enforce the Child Support Order
Parents who refuse to pay or delay paying their child support face enforcement actions and interest charges.
Change the Child Support Order
If either party has a change in circumstances after child support is set, they may qualify for “modification.”
Closing a Child Support Case
There are many reasons why a child support case can be closed.
*If you already have a court order for child support and need to have that order enforced, you must first open a case
About Child Support Services
There are 47 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 system. Child 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 on the Services We Offer page; 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.