Can I receive child support for my special needs child past his or her 18th birthday?
If you have a child with special needs, CSS can file the motion to place the matter before the court. The court will determine if child support should continue past your child's 18th birthday.
Each case is different and will be reviewed on a case by case basis.
What is child support?
Child support is money paid toward a child's living expenses and health insurance.
Who can receive child support?
Any parent or person who has legal or physical custody of a child can get help in locating the child's other (non-custodial) parent, establishing a child's paternity (legal fatherhood), establishing a child support order, modifying or adjusting a child support order, obtaining health insurance for a child, collecting current child support, and enforcing a child support obligation (collecting past due child support/arrears) by completing an application for Services form.
Once the completed application is received and processed by our office, the child support process begins. This service is available for both welfare and non-welfare recipients. The more accurate the information provided regarding the non-custodial parent, the more effective our office will be in our efforts to collect child support. An application for services may be obtained on-line under Forms To Download or by contacting our office.
People who receive public assistance through the Family Assistance, Safety Net or Medicaid, or Federally-Assisted Foster Care programs automatically receive child support enforcement services. As a condition of eligibility for these programs, applicants and recipients are expected to cooperate in pursuing the child's other parent for the purpose of collecting child support unless there is reason to believe that doing so would put the custodial parent and/or the child(ren) at risk of domestic violence.
People not receiving public assistance can receive child support enforcement services by simply applying for such services, and without regard to income.
Where do I go to get help in obtaining child support?
Every state has a federally mandated child support enforcement program known as IV-D/child support. California's child support program is state supervised and locally administered through Orange County's Department of Child Support Services. Contact information for Orange County's Department Child Support Services can be obtained by clicking on the "Contact Us" button to the left.
How do I get a child support order?
A court can establish a child support order based on the filing of a legal action requesting that it do so. The person chargeable with support must be the child's parent through marriage or through the establishment of paternity. Child support orders are generally payable until the child's 18th birthday.
In California, the amount of a child support order is determined according to the Child Support Standards Act (CSSA) or child support guidelines. The guidelines work like this:
the gross income of each parent is determined and the incomes are combined;
the combined parental income is multiplied by the appropriate child support percentage; 17% for one child, 25% for two children, 29% for three children, 31% for four children, and not less than 35% for five or more children;
this figure is the basic child support obligation which is then divided between the parents on a pro-rata basis, according to the amount of their respective incomes and the amount of time the child spends with each parent;
additional amounts to be paid for child care, medical care not covered by health insurance, and educational expenses are determined by the court and added to the basic child support obligation; and,
the non-custodial parent is ordered to pay his/her share to the custodial parent.
The amount of child support calculated in accordance with the guidelines is presumed to be the correct amount. Either parent can offer evidence that this amount is not correct, and the court has the authority to decide the guideline amount is unjust or inappropriate. If the court orders a different amount than the basic support obligation according to the guidelines, the court must set forth its reasons for doing so in writing. Either party can object to the findings of the court.
Child support orders obtained through the child support enforcement program are made payable through the local child support agency (LCSA). All current child support collected on behalf of persons not receiving public assistance is sent to them within two days of its receipt.
If a custodial parent is not currently receiving public assistance, but did so in the past, monies collected beyond the amount of current child support may be used to repay past due support owed to the State. The LCSA sends the first $50 of current child support collected to persons receiving support from Family Assistance and Safety Net and retains the rest of the child support paid to reimburse assistance granted.
How does the program work?
The child support enforcement program works through California's court system but is separate from it. Child Support Service workers guide custodial parents through the court process, when necessary. They also provide a wide range of administrative actions that do not require court intervention.
What information do I need to provide?
Whatever information you can provide from the list below will help Child Support Services help you pursue child support:
name, address and social security number of the non-custodial parent;
child(ren)'s birth certificate(s);
your child support order;
your divorce decree or separation agreement;
name and address of current or recent employer of the non-custodial parent;
names of friends and relatives of the non-custodial parent, and the names of organizations to which the non-custodial parent might belong;
information on the non-custodial parent's income and assets; pay stubs, tax returns, bank account records, investment records, or information on property holdings; and.
if paternity is at issue, written statements (letters, notes, cards) in which the alleged father has said or implied that the child is his.
Will this cost me anything?
Per the Federal Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, Public Law 109-171, all states were instructed to impose a $25 Annual Service Fee to families that have never received welfare assistance and who are disbursed $500 or more during the federal fiscal year. The mandate went into effect January 1, 2008. As of October 1, 2010, the State will no longer pay the $25 fee on behalf of families. Find out details about this fee.
I don't know where my child's other parent is. Can you help find them?
The child support enforcement program uses computer searches or matches against a large number of California, State, and Federal data banks to locate non-custodial parent. These data banks include information about motor vehicles/driver licenses, income tax, unemployment insurance, correctional facilities, utilities, cable television companies, banks, vital statistics, real property, and occupational and professional licenses.
Also, California has a "new hire reporting program" under which all California employers must report all newly hired employees to the child support enforcement program within 15 days of hire. This information is used for location and enforcement purposes. The most critical piece of information you can supply to help find a non-custodial parent is his/her social security number (SSN). If you do not have the SSN, check hospital records, bank records, insurance policies, credit card records, pay stubs, or income tax returns.
I'm not married to my child's father. Can I still get child support?
In order for a child to be entitled to child support, paternity (legal fatherhood) for the child must be established. This service is offered through the child support enforcement program. There are two ways paternity can be established:
When both parents agree that a man is the only possible father of a child, they can establish paternity for the child by signing a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity. This form is made available in hospitals, through local social services agencies, local child support agencies and from registrars of vital statistics in every county. The form, when witnessed and filed with the Department of Child Support Services in Sacramento, establishes paternity and the obligation of both parents to provide financial support for the child.
A court can establish paternity based on the filing of a Complaint naming a man as the father of a child. When the man denies paternity, the court must order the mother, putative (alleged) father and the child to submit to genetic testing. These genetic tests are performed on blood or skin cells in order to either exclude a man as the father of a child or to establish a probability of paternity-a likelihood that the man is the father of a child. Where the probability of paternity is 95% or greater, the man is presumed to be the child's father, and must prove to the court that he is not in order to avoid paternity establishment.
Is it important that I establish paternity for my child(ren)?
Establishing paternity is necessary before the court can order child support. If the parents are not married at the point of a child’s conception, paternity is at issue.
Paternity can be established either by signing a Declaration of Paternity form, signing a paternity stipulation, or by filing a civil action (Summons and Complaint/Proposed Judgment) to establish paternity and a child support order. Blood tests may be requested to determine whether or not a man is the father of the child if a paternity judgment has not been issued previously (except under FC 7646(a)).
There are many excellent reasons for parents to legally establish the paternity of their child.
A man's name cannot appear on his child's birth certificate unless paternity has been established.
A child is entitled to financial support, including child support, social security benefits, veteran's benefits, military allowances, and inheritance, once paternity has been established.
A child may be entitled to health insurance through his/her father, as well as his/her mother, once paternity has been established.
A child deserves to know who both his/her parents are, including having access to their medical histories.
Can I still open a child support case even if the other parent has been gone a long time?
Yes. But the longer parents are gone, the harder it may be to find them.
Is my child support case open to the public?
Child Support case information is not open to the public, but court files may be public record.
Can I get child support if I'm not sure whom the father of my child is?
No. Paternity (a legal determination of who the father is) must be established before child support can be ordered. Paternity gives your child many rights, including child support, access to medical records, government benefits and more.
What if the father leaves the state before it's proven that he is the father?
The local court may use information they have to decide paternity without him. If paternity is established without the alleged father's cooperation, the court may order him to pay child support no matter where he lives, even if he is out of California.
What if the father doesn't have any money or even a job to support my child? Why should I bother proving that he is the father?
If you don't establish paternity, your child will not be able to get child support or health insurance even after the alleged father gets a job. Proving he is the father as soon as possible makes collecting child support easier later on.
Can I start my case while I'm pregnant, before my baby is born?
If your application includes siblings of your expectant child, you may include this information on your application. If you are applying for services for your expectant child only, then you will have to wait until the child is born to begin your application.
Can I get health insurance for my child as part of the child support process?
California State law mandates that all orders of child support require either parent to extend health insurance available through an employer at the time the order is issued or at any time in the future to cover the child(ren). If the non-custodial parent has health insurance available, but does not enroll the child(ren), the LCSA can help enforce this provision of the court order.
My child support order is too low. How can I get it raised?
The LCSA can help you increase the obligation amount of your child support order by employing the following method:
Modification: A court can modify a child support order based on the filing of a motion requesting that it do so. Each case may be reviewed to determine whether an increase or decrease in the child support is justified. A request for Modification Review form can be found under Forms to Download or may be requested by contacting our office. The party seeking to modify must demonstrate to the court that there has been a change of circumstances warranting an upward modification since the child support order was issued. The court will then conduct a hearing and issue a new child support order in accordance with the Child Support Standards Act.
How can I get child support when the other parent lives in another state?
The most difficult child support cases to pursue are those in which the parent obligated to pay support lives in one state and the custodial parent and child(ren) live in another.
All states, however, are required to pursue all child support enforcement program functions for out-of-state cases in the same way they do for in-state cases. All states must cooperate with each other in these matters. The Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA) governs interstate child support case processing.
Particularly significant are the provisions of UIFSA which ensure that when more than one state is involved, there is only one valid child support order, and those which permit direct wage withholding to be initiated from the custodial parent's state to the child support payer's employer in another state.
In addition, the Child Support recovery Act of 1992 makes it a federal crime to willfully fail to pay support for a child living in another state. These cases are prosecuted by the United States Attorney's Office.
I have a child support order, but the other parent doesn't pay. How can I get my order enforced?
One of the principal goals of the child support enforcement program is to ensure that all child support payments are received in the full amount due on the date due.
The primary enforcement tools of the LCSA are administrative, and do not require the involvement of the court. Administrative remedies can be used to collect all arrears/past due child support, regardless of whether they have been reduced to a judgment.
Where administrative remedies do not prove effective, however, the support collection unit can also petition the court for enforcement. Enforcement tools are described briefly below. Each process is subject to specific legal conditions, the details of which can be provided by the LCSA.
Income Execution - All orders of child support issued in California are required to provide for immediate wage withholding. This is accomplished under the IV-D program by the issuance of a Notice to Withhold Earnings to the employer of a child support payer, requiring that employer to deduct the child support obligation amount plus an additional amount to reduce arrears (if any) and forward the money directly to the LCSA. Income executions can also be issued to other income sources including, but not limited to Unemployment Insurance Benefits, Workers' Compensation, Social Security Disability, and pension plans.
Income Tax Refund Offset - Where a child support payer owes past due support/arrears, the LCSA can intercept any State or federal income tax refund due to that payer and apply it to the repayment of the past due support/arrears.
Lottery Prize Offset - Where a child support payer owes past due support/arrears, the LCSA can intercept any Lottery prize in excess of $600 won by that payer and apply it to the repayment of the past due support/arrears.
Driving Privilege Suspension - Where a child support payer owes past due support/arrears and is not paying child support through an income execution, the LCSA can direct the California State Department of Motor Vehicles to suspend that payer's driving privileges.
Property Execution -The LCSA can seize the liquid assets (i.e., bank accounts) of child support payers who owe past due support/arrears, and apply the proceeds to the repayment of past due support/arrears.
Liens - The LSCA can place liens against the real or personal property of child support payers who owe past due support/arrears. A lien will prevent the sale or transfer of the property until the past due support/arrears are repaid.
Referrals to the State of California - Certain hard-to-collect cases are referred to the California Franchise Tax Board (FTB). FTB is authorized to employ all methods available for the collection of past due taxes to the collection of past due child support. This method is particularly useful against self-employed persons who own businesses.
Passport denial - Federal law requires that a parent with a past due child support obligation of $2,500 or greater shall not be issued a passport. In California, you must pay off your child support arrears and bring your balance to zero ($0.00) in order for a passport to be issued or renewed. You can make a payment with a credit card online, credit card by calling 866.901.212 or with money order, cash or credit card by walking into our office.
Credit Bureau Reporting - Where a child support payer owes past due support/arrears, the LCSA will report those arrears as a bad debt to all major consumer credit reporting agencies. This action is likely to negatively affect the ability of the child support payer to obtain credit.
After a hearing and upon a finding that a child support payer has violated an order of support, the court must enter a money judgment for the amount of the arrears.
Order to Seek Work - The LCSA can request the court to order a delinquent payer to actively and continuously seek employment.
Prosecuting for civil contempt or criminal prosecution. After a hearing and upon a finding that a child support payer has willfully violated an order of support, the court may
commit the payer to jail for up to six months, or
place the payer on probation.
I don't live in the United States, but my child's father, mother or non-custodial parent is American. Is there any way I can get help collecting child support?
State Child Support Enforcement (CSE) agencies will accept foreign applications for enforcement services, and will mail you the forms you will need. You may first want to inquire of the CSE Agency in the State where you believe the parent is now living or in his State of birth.
The CSE Agency will need the parent's full name and social security number. If you do not know the social security number, the State agency may be able to identify it if you provide as much as you know of the following: the parent's date and place of birth, mother's maiden name and father's name.
I am a non-custodial parent. What should I do when I get a Summons and Complaint?
You have 30 days to respond (file an Answer) to the Summons and Complaint. A blank Answer form is supplied with the Summons and Complaint. Complete the Answer and file it with the Superior Court clerk within 30 days and provide a copy to the LCSA. You may call the Department of Child Support Services or Family Law Facilitator to discuss the case. Contact information for the Department Child Support Services and a Family Law Facilitator can be obtained by clicking on the "Contact Us" button at the top.
What if a non-custodial parent ignores or forgets about the Summons and Complaint?
A Proposed Judgment comes with the Summons and Complaint. It will be the order of the court if the non-custodial parent does not respond.
If I file a Response with the court, will I have the chance to talk to the judge?
Yes. If you respond to the Summons and Complaint and disagree with the amount of child support or paternity, you will be given a court date by subsequent notice.
I am being denied visitation with my kids. Can you help me?
Although a parent's visitation rights should be protected, and children should have access to both their parents, Federal law does not require child support enforcement agencies to enforce visitation. Family law, including parental rights, is under the jurisdiction of the individual States. Contact any of the agencies listed below for further assistance:
Family Law Facilitator
Lamoreaux Justice Center
341 The City Drive
6th Floor, Room C-611 (Opposite Dept. L66)
Orange, CA 92868 View Map
Monday - Thursday
8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
I am a non-custodial parent but my child lives with me now. Can I change the child support order?
Yes. When there is a change in visitation or custody of the child, you can go to court and ask for a change in the child support order, or you may ask the Department of Child Support Services to initiate court action to modify the existing order. You may be able to reduce child support or begin receiving child support from the other parent.
My ex-spouse has remarried and has another family to support. How does this affect the support owed to our children?
The amount of the child support order may be decreased if the other parent also must support children from another relationship.
What is a Private Child Support Collection Agency?
A private collection agency is a privately-owned, for-profit business that charges a fee to help parents collect child support. Find out more information on PCAs or view the Authorization to Release Information form.
Can I authorize a relative or friend to discuss my case?
Yes. You may designate any person 18 and over to discuss your child support case with any child support representative. To do so, you must first complete and submit an Authorization to Release Information form.
How do I close my case?
If you have an open child support case, you may contact the Orange County Office of Child Support Services and request that your case be closed. (Note: if Orange County is not managing your case, you must contact the county office that manages your case)
Choose one of the following four (4) ways available to contact us to submit a request to close your case:
Log On to Customer Connect. If you choose to contact us via Customer Connect, select the email option to send us a message requesting your case be closed. You will need your case number or social security number to utilize this service. Please refer to the "What Information is Required?" section below and be sure your email includes the information listed; all this information is necessary to process your request.
Call (866) 901-3212. Have your case number or social security number handy to utilize this service. You will be connected to the California Department of Child Support Services automated phone system. Follow the prompts to speak to a child support representative in the Orange County office.
Mail your request to: OCCSS Post Office Box 22099 Santa Ana, CA 92701. Simply write us a letter requesting that we review your case for closure. Please refer to the "What Information is Required?" section below and be sure to include the information listed; all this information is necessary to process your request.
Visit our Customer Service Center located at 1055 North Main Street in Santa Ana. Child support representatives are available for walk-in customers or you may schedule an appointment. Our office hours are Monday through Friday, 8:00 AM until 4:30 PM and one Saturday each month from 8:00 AM until 1:00 PM ( see the Saturday Schedule).
When you submit a request to close your case, our office will review your case to be sure it meets the criteria for case closure. You should be aware of the following criteria:
Only the person who initially opened the case is able to close the case.
The parties in a case must not be receiving financial assistance from the State of California
What Information is Required?You must provide the following information when submitting a request to close your case:
Case Number or Participant ID Number
Names of all Parties in the Case
Daytime Telephone Number
Your Signature and Date of Correspondence (if mailing letter to request case closure)
Additional information may be required in order to confirm your identification.
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