Applying for Support
Child Support professionals are available to assist you in the process of opening a child support case. Applications are available online, or you may visit our office to pick up an application packet and to get all of your questions answered by a child support professional.
If you do not know where the other parent is located, the department will initiate locate efforts in an effort to find the parent, to establish paternity (fatherhood), and/or establish, change, or enforce orders for child support.
Child Support professionals will help you establish paternity with a Paternity Opportunity Program (POP) Declaration that must be signed by both parents to establish paternity without going to court. The department will help you arrange for genetic testing when the child’s father is in question.
Establishing Child Support Orders
Once paternity is established, we can help you get a child support order based on each parent’s income, visitation, and other information. Most orders will also include a wage assignment, which will automatically withhold funds to pay child support from the obligor parent’s paycheck.
Changing Payment Amount
In certain situations, we can help you get a change in your court-ordered child support amount, which is called a "modification." Learn more about Modifying Your Payment.
Seeking Health Insurance Coverage
In opening a child support case, the department will seek support payments and medical coverage for your children. Your children have a right to health insurance coverage, and our child support professionals will assist in seeing that issue is addressed.
Cooperating with Other States
Child Support orders can be obtained and enforced, even when the other parent lives in another state.
Enforcing Child Support Orders
The department has several ways to collect child support for your children, including:
- Bank levies (attaching bank accounts)
- Interception of State or federal income tax refunds
- Levies on property
- License suspensions
- Lottery winnings
- Passport denials
- State disability benefits
- Unemployment benefits
- Withholding wages from paychecks
Some of these enforcement actions are required by law. Others will be used depending on the facts of each case.
If you need assistance in any of the following areas, we will provide you with referrals:
- Child abuse
- Domestic violence
- Restraining orders
- Visitation or child custody issues
How Child Support Payments Are Collected & Processed
Child support payments are collected and processed at one location-the State Disbursement Unit (SDU). The SDU has a variety of options available for how parents receive and make child support payments.
Local child support agencies remain the primary contact for questions about an individual’s case. To learn more about the SDU, contact your local child support agency or visit the Department of Child Support Services website.
Each local child support agency is required to retain case records for four years and four months from the date of case closure unless there is an open federal or State audit or pending civil litigation pursuant to Family Code section 17312(c) and 22 California Code of Regulations section 111450. It is recommended for case participants to keep copies of checks, bank records, and pay receipts for a minimum of 20 years.