Independent Modification Actions and Contempt Filings by a Parent Receiving Services Thru the Department of Child Support Services

Can a Parent who is receiving services, file their own independent action to modify support?

Yes; however, they must follow Family Code §17404(f)(1).

A parent who has requested or is receiving support enforcement services from CSS may take independent action to modify a support order as long as he/she does the following:

  1. The parent shall serve the Department with notice of any action to modify the support order and provide the Department with a copy of the modified order within 15 calendar days after the order is issued. 17404(f) (1).
    Note that in any case being enforced by the Department, the parties cannot stipulate to modify a child support order without the consent of the Department. Per Family Code §4605(c) a stipulated agreement of child support is not valid unless the local child support agency has joined in the stipulation by signing it.
  2. The motion to modify a support order must be heard by a IV-D child support commissioner, if CSS is taking enforcement actions in the case. F.C. §4251.
Can a Parent who is receiving services, file their own contempt action?

Yes; however, they must first request permission from the Department and strictly comply with Family Code §17404(f)(2).

  1. At least 30 days prior to filing an independent enforcement action, the parent shall provide the Department with written notice of the parent’s intent to file an enforcement action that includes the type of action.
  2. The Department within 30 days of receiving the notice shall either provide written consent for the parent to proceed or notify the parent that the Department objects to the filing of the action.
  3. The Department may only object if it is currently using an administrative or judicial method to enforce the support obligation or if the proposed independent enforcement action would interfere with an investigation being conducted by the Department.
    1. an administrative or judicial method of enforcement includes any wage garnishments, liens, levies, tax intercepts, credit reporting, license suspensions, or any other tool used by the department for enforcing child support.
  4. If the Department fails to respond within 30 days, the Department shall be deemed to have given consent.
  5. Any independent enforcement actions regarding support issues, initiated by a parent must be heard by a IV-D child support commissioner. F.C. §4251.
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