Understanding California
Child Support Laws

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The California Child Support enforcement program began operations in 2000. They are striving for self- sufficiency for families by helping both parents meet the medical, emotional, and financial needs of their children.

visitor slogan: A CHILD Is Worth The $UPPORT...

There are many regional agencies to choose from in the state of California. The services they provide are for custodial parents, noncustodial parents and guardians. This is to ensure that all kids receive the court ordered support they deserve.

Applying for Child Support Services

California child support program services are made up of 52 local child support agencies including child support San Diego. The following services are available at no cost to the public.

  • Locating a parent: If you are not sure where the noncustodial parent is located, your local agency will try to find the parent to establish the correct paternity and/or establish, change, or enforce orders for child support.
  • Establishing paternity: The local child support agency can help you establish paternity with a paternity opportunity program declaration or a court order.

  1. The Declaration is a form you can fill out that must be signed by both parents to establish paternity without going to court.
  2. The local child support agency will help you get free or low-cost testing when the child’s father is in question.

Establishing, Modifying and Enforcing a court order for child support:

Once paternity is established, the agency 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 so money will be withheld from the noncustodial parent’s paycheck to pay child support. In certain situations, we can help you get a change in your court ordered child support, which is called a modification. California child support orders can be obtained and enforced, even when the other parent lives in another state.

Customer Service

The California Child Support Services are continually striving to ensure that individuals receive the highest level of service through the program’s 52 local agencies and through the State Disbursement Unit. If you have an open case with a local child support agency – you have various rights and responsibilities regarding the services you receive. If for any reason you are not satisfied with the assistance you’re receiving from an agency you have the right to file a complaint through the Complaint Resolution Program.

The party who has/had custody or the parent who does not have custody may file a complaint if there is a case open with the Department of Child Support Services. If you need help with a problem, ask to speak with the LCSA's Ombudsperson – it is his or her job to:

  • Help you obtain child support services
  • Explain to you your rights and responsibilities
  • Help you resolve certain problems with your case
  • Explain the complaint process before, during, and after a complaint is filed
  • Help you request and prepare for a state hearing if you are not satisfied with the results of the complaint resolution process

Compromise of Arrears Program (COAP)

In various California child support cases, the law allows for a parent to pay less than his or her total child support debt owed to the government because the child in question received public assistance during a time that the parent did not pay the court ordered child support. This is called a compromise of arrears. There are a lot of things that have to be checked before a less than full payment can be approved. If you, or someone you want to help, are interested in the Compromise of Arrears Program you must review an eligibility list.

To talk about making an offer in compromise, please contact your local child support agency (LCSA). They will help you determine whether you want to go through the process and submit all of the information required. Once you have turned in everything to the LCSA, they will be your contact point as your offer is reviewed. There is a special compromise opportunity for certain military personnel. Current reservists or members of the National Guard that have been activated to military service and deployed out of state may receive a total compromise of any governmental arrears that accrued because their current support order was not changed to reflect the fact their pay in the military is less than their pay in the civil workforce.

** For a complete copy of the COAP Policies and Procedures Manual send a letter requesting a copy of the manual and a self-addressed standard (size 10) envelope with $2.02 postage to the COAP Section to the mailing address below: **

Department of Child Support Services
Compromise of Arrears Program Section
P.O. Box 419064, MS 30
Rancho Cordova, CA 95741-9064

California Child Support Contact Information:
Recorded Messages (toll free) (866) 249–0773
Sacramento (916) 464–5000
TDD (toll free) (866) 223–9529

En Espanol
Recorded Messages (toll free) (866) 249–0773
Sacramento (916) 464–5000
TDD (Sacramento) (916) 464–5624

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