The Child Support Process in California

Anyone who has a child support and/or a 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. The Welfare Department will automatically refer parents, who receive public assistance, including Medi­Cal, to the FSD or local child support agency. The FSD or local child support agency will take the following steps to collect support from a non­custodial parent.

Open a Child Support Case

Either parent, or the caretaker/guardian of a child, may open a child support case by completing an application. The FSD or local child support agency will also open a case for any individual receiving CalWORKS and/or Medi­Cal who has been referred by the county Welfare Department. The more information the custodial party gives about the case, the better service the FSD or local child support agency can provide.

Locate the Parent

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

Establish Paternity

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

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 the FSD or local child support agency and established by the court based on both parents` ability to pay support and the amount of time the child spends with each parent. The FSD or local child support agency 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.

Enforcement of Support Orders

The FSD or local child support agency will take steps to enforce court orders for child support and medical support. Enforcement action will be taken by the FSD or local child support agency if the non­custodial parent does not pay or pays less than the amount ordered, or if the non­custodial parent does not provide health insurance for the child as ordered by the court. The FSD or local child support agency will determine the type of enforcement action to be taken, consistent with state and federal regulations.

The information on this page is meant to provide a general overview of the law. The laws in your state and/or city may deviate significantly from those described here. If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a local attorney.

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