“As a custodial parent, why should I consider opening a case with the local Department of Child Support Services? Isn’t it just for custodial parties on welfare?”
Any parent or legal guardian who has primary physical custody of a minor child can apply for the services offered by the Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) in the county in which he or she lives. These services are provided free of charge. Every dollar of child support collected goes to the custodial party, in those cases where the custodial party is not receiving monetary public assistance.
DCSS has at its disposal many automated collection tools that are not available to private parties or private collection agencies. These include license suspensions, tax refund intercepts, unemployment benefit intercepts, passport suspensions, reporting child support debt to credit agencies, etc. Case participants can choose to retain their personal legal representation but many parents go through the process without an attorney.
The local child support agency will not only enforce collections on current support owed, but can also collect payments on arrears when taking over an existing court order. Child support arrears accrue interest at 10% per year. If spousal support is a part of the court order establishing child support, DCSS will also enforce and collect the monthly spousal support for as long as the minor child is living in the home of the custodial party. DCSS will also place a lien on property owned by the noncustodial parent.
In addition, if the noncustodial parent lives in another state, the local agency can petition the agency in the State where that parent resides to utilize that state’s enforcement tools to implement wage assignments and activate many of the same resources available locally. There are many foreign countries that have a reciprocal agreement with the United States to enforce child support orders, as well.
Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego County DCSS offices, as well as the State of California DCSS, have recently upgraded online and automated phone services available 24/7. Parents can secure recent payment information and check on payment status. Custodial parents can receive monthly payments through direct deposit into their bank account or can secure an electronic payment card to immediately access funds in their child support account. Court dates can be verified online or by phone. Noncustodial parents can make regular payments by credit card.
To help children get the support they deserve, we offer the following free services: establishing paternity and child support orders, enforcing divorce orders for child support, modifying child support orders, and collecting and distributing court-ordered support. For more information: Los Angeles County Child Support Services Department, Orange County Department of Child Support Services, or San Diego County Department of Child Support Services.