Child Support 101

Most folks think they need to hire an attorney to get child support—you can, but you don’t have to. Your government funded, local child support office can obtain a child support order, modify the order and enforce it as well. Their job is not to represent or favor either side, but strive to be helpful, non-judgmental and impartial.

Every August we celebrate Child Support Awareness. Children who receive support from their parents are more likely to thrive as they grow. Your local child support office can establish court orders for child support, paternity, health insurance, enforce these orders and modify (change) the orders when needed.

What will happen when you contact the child support office to ask for help with child support?

Whether you want to obtain the first child support Judgment, make changes to an existing child support order, or just want to have child support enforced, you will be asked to complete a couple of standard forms.

Do you need a Genetic Test?
Fathers are important and we can help. If your child’s birth certificate does not list the father’s name, we can establish paternity in several ways. The child support office provides free genetic testing. Once paternity has been established, the Office of Vital Records will allow you to add the father’s name to your child’s birth certificate.

Establishing or changing an Order.
If you would like a child support amount to be set, you will be asked to fill out information about your income, expenses, and how much time your child spends with the other parent. The child support caseworker will try to obtain this information from both parents. If one parent is not cooperative, the caseworker has resources to research for information on the non-cooperative parent. By gathering this information, the child support office can run the numbers to come up with a guideline calculation of what child support could be.

The child support caseworker will ask both parents if this is an amount both parents agree on, or if not, the caseworker can negotiate between both parents to reach an agreement on the amount of child support to be paid. If everyone agrees to an amount, the parents sign a legal document called a Stipulation, which is filed in court and becomes your child support order. If there is no agreement, a solution may be reached through a court hearing or a default judgment.

Enforcing an Order
The caseworker has many resources and tools to use to collect on child support. The child support office has a network to find out where the person who should be paying child support works, and can have their wages, unemployment, and other income automatically attached. Some enforcement actions that are available include income withholding orders, bank levies, passport denial, license suspension, property liens, and tax refund intercepts. If you are asking for past due support, you will need to complete a declaration on payments received, or not received. This document will be filed with the courts.

Payments can be sent directly to a bank account and the child support office even offers a mobile app for your smart phone so parents can check their case at any time.

If you are ordered to pay child support we can assist in a number of ways.
You can open a case and you won’t have to worry about getting the money to the other parent. Once the case is open you can make your payments to the California State Disbursement Unit in a variety of ways. By having the child support office manage your case, you will be provided with an accurate accounting of all payments made.

If you have had a change in your financial circumstance (new job, additional children, no job) you can ask your child support office to initiate a modification (change) in the amount of support you pay based on your current situation. California uses a computer program entitled Guideline Calculator which you may use to estimate what you should be paying in child support.

If you are unemployed we can help you with your work search efforts. SP

You can call the Sierra Nevada Regional Child Support office directly at 530-265-7097. We are available to answer your child support questions no matter where you live. Our e-mail address is: There is also a toll free statewide number 866-901-3212 that can put you in touch with the county you currently live in.

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