California Child Support

How to apply for child support in California

Child support in California is administered by the California Department of Child Support Services. The state offers 51 local support agencies for parents. An official Application for Child Support Services Packet must be completed and returned to the appropriate local support agency. Applications can be obtained online or by walking into a local office. Download Forms.

How to Calculate Child Support in California?

Support in California is calculated by factoring in the number of children involved, the time spent with each parent, monthly income, deductions and expenses.

How to claim and pay child support?

Support payments in California can be received via direct deposit or through an electronic pay card (EPC). Payments can be made using a Visa or MasterCard credit card or debit card.

Child Support Performance Stats for California

California offers year-to-year comparisons regarding support performance statistics. These statistics measure the effectiveness of the Department of Child Support Services.

Statistics for Regular On-Time Payments Collection

Other Incentive Performance Measures

Performance Measures 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Statewide Paternity Establishment (%) 101.62 98.61 98.18 97.96 98.61
IV-D Paternity Establishment (%) N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Support Order Establishment (%) 87.88 89.03 89.21 89.42 90.35
Cost-Effectiveness ($) 2.47 2.54 2.43 2.51 2.51

Total Number of Children in the Child Support Program

Total Distributed Collections and Total Administrative Expenditures ($ Millions)

2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Total Distributed Collections ($) 2208.75 2205.95 2208.2 2247.5 2311.47
Total Distributed to Families ($) 1786.86 1815.06 1838.48 1878.98 1949.7
Total Administrative Expenditures ($) 932.7 907.74 947.26 932.64 959.56

Average Collections per Case with Collections

Can child support be paid off early

Support can be paid off early in California. However, paying a lump sum will not prevent you from owing more if your obligation increases due to changed circumstances.

What Will happen if You fall Behind Child Support Payment?

The California Department of Child Support services will use all legal means necessary to collect unpaid support. This could include garnishing wages, seizing tax returns and compiling evidence for felony charges.

Can you get alimony and child support at the same time?

Receiving alimony does not prevent a person from also receiving child support.

Can you stop child support payments?

Support payments in California cannot be stopped unless a change in custody or some other circumstance occurs.

Child Support and Taxes

Support does not count as taxable income. In addition, support payments that are made cannot be deducted.

Can child support payments be claimed on taxes in California?

Support payments cannot be deducted on taxes. However, a parent making support payments may be able to claim a child as a dependent in some cases.

How does my child support affect my taxes in California?

Support essentially does not have any impact on the taxes of the person making payments or the person receiving payments in California.

Can child support be taken pre tax in the state?

There is no program in California that allows support payments to be taken out before tax.

Can child support Take my federal tax return in CA?

The California Department of Child Support Services will work in collaboration with the IRS to seize tax returns if support payments are owed.

Paternity Establishment

Establishing paternity is a big part of creating an order for support. Paternity establishment can be done on a voluntary or court-ordered basis in California.

How do you establish paternity?

Paternity in California is automatically established in most cases if parents are married. Unmarried parents can establish paternity by signing a voluntary Declaration of Paternity at the hospital when a child is born. A paternity action in court will be needed if paternity is contested by one party.

What rights does a father have if not on birth certificate?

A father essentially has no legal rights until paternity has been established.

Can a mother refuse me paternity test?

A court can order a paternity test in some circumstances where a father is trying to obtain parental rights.

How to establish paternity if the father is deceased?

The DNA of a family member can be used to establish paternity if a father is not living.

Can a father get a paternity test without the mother?

It is illegal to have a DNA test performed on a minor without the consent of a primary guardian. However, DNA tests that are legally conducted are often accepted by courts.

How long does a father have to establish paternity in California?

An acknowledgment or affidavit of paternity in California (AOP) can be signed at the hospital within 72 hours of the child's birth, or at the local health department. Both the mother and the father must sign the affidavit. Within 60 days of the signing the affidavit, however, anyone who is entitled to file a paternity case can file a case and ask for genetic testing.

Support order establishment

A support order can be established in California after an application has been filed with the California Department of Child Support Services. The department can assist with locating a parent and establishing paternity in order to establish a support order.

State Child Support orders

California support orders are established and enforced voluntarily or via a court order.

Can child support be modified?

Yes, but the parent who needs a modification of the support agreement has to prove the circumstances have been changed/.

How do I file for a modification of child support?

A modification can be filed if one or both parties can prove that there has been a change in circumstances since the last order was created.

Can a child support order appealed?

A parent can file a motion with the court asking for a modification if they wish to appeal an existing order.

Do you need a lawyer to modify child support?

While a lawyer is not necessary, the complicated nature of requesting a modification makes seeking legal guidance important.

When can you modify child support?

California allows parents to request modifications whenever changes in circumstances or life events affect the parties involved.

Child support Enforcement

How long does the child support enforcement take?

Processing times are affected by things like whether or not paternity needs to be established and if a non-custodial parent can be located.

What to do when child support is not paid?

The California Department of Child Support Services should be notified if payments are not being received. The department will investigate and follow through with trying to collect missed payments.

What Happens if I’m not paying Child support?

Failure to pay support can result in everything from wage garnishments to felony charges.

How much overdue child support payment can be considered a felony?

Support payments that are overdue by more than two years or that exceed $10,000 can result in felony charges and jail time.

Support Order Termination

How do I stop a child support order?

A modification must be filed in order to stop a child support order..

When Can I Apply for Child Support Termination?

When a child is over the age when support is required or if custody changes.

Can the custodial parent close a child support case?

A custodial parent can request for a case to be closed. However, only a court can officially close a case.

When Can I Stop Paying Child Support?

When a child turns 19 years old, graduates from high school at 18 years old or becomes legally emancipated.

What is the legal age to stop paying child support?

19 years old. 18 years old if a child has graduated from high school.

California hearing rights

Both parents have the right to a hearing for a modification of child support in California..

California Child Support Guidelines

California takes into account parental income and the amount of time a child spends with each parent when creating guidelines for how much support can be collected and what it can be used for.

California Child Support Coverage

What is child support meant to cover?

Support in California is meant to provide monetary support for essentials like food, shelter, clothing and health insurance. Other costs may also be covered.

Does Child Support Cover Medical Care Expenses?

Support is intended to cover the cost of health insurance and unpaid medical bills

What if Both Parents are working, will Child Support Cover child care services?

Childcare services can be covered by child support.

Are Car Maintenance Costs Covered by Child Support in California?

Car maintenance may be covered for a car that is used to transport a child to visitation.

What is Considered Basic Entertainment for Child Support?

Access to electronic devices, Internet access, tickets for movies, visits to attractions and other common activities.

Are College expenses Covered by Child Support in California?

People paying child support in California are generally not required to cover college expenses.

Are Extracurricular Activities covered by Support?

Sports, field trips, lessons and other extracurricular activities are covered.

Are School Related Costs Covered by Child Support?

Typically yes, they are covered.

California Child Support Offices

Institution name Physical address Email address Phone number Website
California Department of Child Support Services Rancho Cordova, CA 95741-9064 willaume.kelley@dcss.ca.gov 866-901-3212 http://www.childsup.ca.gov/

County Child Support Offices in CA

County name Institution name Physical address Email address Phone number Website
Orange County Orange County, CA Child Support Services 1055 N. Main St. Santa Ana, CA 92701 childsupport@css.ocgov.com 1(866) 901-3212 http://www.css.ocgov.com/
Alameda County Alameda County, CA California, Department of Child Support Services 5669 Gibraltar Drive, Pleasanton CA 94588 N/A 1(866) 901-3212 http://acdcss.org/
Alpine County Alpine County, CA Central Sierra Child Support Agency 75A Diamond Valley Road, Markleeville, CA 96120 N/A 1(866) 901-3212 http://www.amadorgov.org/services/central-sierra-child-support-agency
Amador County Amador County, CA Central Sierra Child Support Agency 639 New York Ranch Road, Jackson, CA 96542 N/A 1(866) 901-3212 http://www.amadorgov.org/services/central-sierra-child-support-agency
Calaveras County Calaveras County, CA Central Sierra Child Support Agency 509 East St. Charles St., San Andreas, CA 95249 N/A 1(866) 901-3212 http://www.amadorgov.org/services/central-sierra-child-support-agency
Tuolumne County Tuolumne County, CACentral Sierra Child Support Agency 975 Morning Star Drive, Sonora, CA 96472 N/A 1(866) 901-3212 http://www.amadorgov.org/services/central-sierra-child-support-agency
Butte County Butte County, CA Child Support Services Department 78 Table Mountain Blvd., Oroville, CA 95965 N/A 1(866) 901-3212 http://www.buttecounty.net/childsupportservices/Home.aspx
Colusa County Colusa County, CA Child Support Services Department 217 9th St., Ste. A, Colusa, CA 95932 ChildSupport@colusa.cse.ca.gov 1(866) 901-3212 http://www.countyofcolusa.com/index.aspx?nid=96
Contra Costa County Contra Costa County, CA Child Support Services 50 Douglas Drive, Suite 100, Martinez, CA 94553 childsupport@dcss.cccounty.us 1(866) 901-3212 http://ca-contracostacounty.civicplus.com/1374/Child-Support-Services
Del Norte County Del Norte County, CA Child Support Services 983-A Third Street, Crescent City, CA 95531 dcss@co.del-norte.ca.us 1(866) 901-3212 http://www.co.del-norte.ca.us/departments/child-support-services
El Dorado County El Dorado County, CA Child Support Services, Placerville Office 3883 Ponderosa Rd., Shingle Springs, CA 95682 dcss@edcgov.us 1(866) 901-3212 https://www.edcgov.us/ChildSupport/
El Dorado County El Dorado County, CA Child Support Services, South Lake Tahoe Office 3368 Lake Tahoe Blvd., STE 203, South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150 dcss@edcgov.us 1(866) 901-3212 https://www.edcgov.us/ChildSupport/
Fresno County Fresno County, CA Child Support Services 2220 Tulare Street Suite 310 Upper, Fresno, CA 93721 N/A 1(866) 901-3212 http://www.co.fresno.ca.us/departments/child-support-services
Glenn County Glenn County, CA Child Support Services Agency 120 S Marshall Ave, Willows, CA 95988 DCSSGlennCounty@dcss.ca.gov 1(866) 901-3212 http://www.countyofglenn.net/dept/child-support-services-agency/welcome
Humboldt County Humboldt County, CA North Coast Regional Department of Child Support Services, Eureka Office 2420 6th St., Eureka CA 95501 dcss@co.humboldt.ca.us 1(866) 901-3212 https://humboldtgov.org/601/Child-Support-Services
Trinity County Trinity County, CA North Coast Regional Department of Child Support Services, Weaverville Office 850 B Main Street, Weaverville, CA 96093 trinitydcss@gmail.com 1(866) 901-3212 http://www.trinitycounty.org/index.aspx?page=94
Trinity County Trinity County, CA North Coast Regional Department of Child Support Services, Hayfork Office 6641 Highway 3, Suite B, Hayfork, CA 96042 N/A 1(866) 901-3212 http://www.trinitycounty.org/index.aspx?page=94
Imperial County Imperial County, CA Department of Child Support Services 2795 So. 4th Street, El Centro, CA 92243 csadmin@co.imperial.ca.us 1(866) 901-3212 http://www.co.imperial.ca.us/ChildSupport/
Inyo County Inyo County, CA Child Support Services 162 E Line St Suite B, Bishop CA 93514. N/A 1(866) 901-3212 http://www.inyocounty.us/CSS/
Kern County Kern County, CA Child Support Services 400 N. China Lake Blvd., Ridgecrest, CA 93555 Childsupport@kernco.cse.ca.gov 1(866) 901-3212 http://www.kerncountychildsupportservices.com/
Kings County Kings County, CA Department of Child Support Services 312 W. 7th St. Suite 201, Hanford, CA 93230 dori.mccarty@co.kings.ca.us 1(866) 901-3212 http://www.countyofkings.com/departments/child-support-services
Lake County Lake County, CA Child Support Services 3980 Gard St., Kelseyville, CA 95451 childsupport@lakecountyca.gov 1(866) 901-3212 http://www.co.lake.ca.us/Government/Directory/DCSS.htm
Lassen County Lassen County, CA Department of Child Support Services 2950 Riverside Drive, Ste.104, Susanville, CA 96130 cote.kelley@lassen.cse.ca.gov 1(866) 901-3212 http://www.co.lassen.ca.us/dept/department-child-support-services/department-child-support-services
Los Angeles County Los Angeles County, CA Child Support Services, Van Nuys Division 7555 Van Nuys Blvd., Van Nuys, CA 91405 N/A 1(866) 901-3212 http://cssd.lacounty.gov/
Los Angeles County Los Angeles County, CA Child Support Services, Commerce Division 5500 S. Eastern Ave., Commerce, CA 90040 N/A 1(866) 901-3212 http://cssd.lacounty.gov/
Los Angeles County Los Angeles County, CA Child Support Services, Pomona Division 3179 Temple Ave., Pomona, CA 91768 N/A 1(866) 901-3212 http://cssd.lacounty.gov/
Los Angeles County Los Angeles County, CA Child Support Services, South Los Angeles Division 8300 S. Vermont Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90044 N/A 1(866) 901-3212 http://cssd.lacounty.gov/
Los Angeles County Los Angeles County, CA Child Support Services, Torrance Division 20221 S. Hamilton Ave., Torrance, CA 90502 N/A 1(866) 901-3212 http://cssd.lacounty.gov/
Los Angeles County Los Angeles County, CA Child Support Services, Antelope Valley Division 42281 10th Street West., Lancaster, CA 93534 N/A 1(866) 901-3212 http://cssd.lacounty.gov/
Madera County Madera County, CA Child Support Services 120 N. Lake Street, Madera, CA 93637 ChildSupport@co.madera.ca.gov 1(866) 901-3212 https://www.maderacounty.com/government/child-support-services
Marin County Marin County, CA Child Support Services 88 Rowland Way, Suite 200, Novato, CA 94945 N/A 1(866) 901-3212 https://www.marincounty.org/depts/CS
Mariposa County Mariposa County, CA Child Support Services 5362 Lemee Lane, Mariposa, CA 95338 childsupport@mariposa.cse.ca.gov 1(866) 901-3212 http://www.mariposacounty.org/index.aspx?nid=69
Mendocino County Mendocino County, CA Child Support Services 107 South State Street, Ukiah, CA 95482 N/A 1(866) 901-3212 https://www.mendocinocounty.org/government/child-support-services
Merced County Merced County, CA Child Support Services 3368 N. Highway 59, Suite A, Merced, CA 95348 dcss@co.merced.ca.us 1(866) 901-3212 http://www.co.merced.ca.us/62/Child-Support-Services
Modoc County Siskiyou County, CA Siskiyou Modoc Regional Department of Child Support Services 1030 N. Main Street, Alturas, CA 96101 sisqmodoc-dcss@co.siskiyou.ca.us 1(866) 901-3212 http://www.co.siskiyou.ca.us/page/child-support-services
Mono County Mono County, CA Child Support Services 126 Old Mammoth Road, Ste #202, Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546 N/A 1(866) 901-3212 https://www.monocounty.ca.gov/child-support
Monterey County Monterey County, CA Department of Child Support Services 752 La Guardia St., Salinas, CA 93905 mcdcss@co.monterey.ca.us 1(866) 901-3212 http://mcdcss.org/
Napa County Napa County, CA Department of Child Support Services 1127 First Street, Suite D, Napa, CA 94559 Child.Support@countyofnapa.org 1(866) 901-3212 https://www.countyofnapa.org/2094/Child-Support-Services
Nevada County Nevada County, CA Child Support Services 950 Maidu Avenue, Suite 140, Nevada City, CA 95959 snrdcss@co.nevada.ca.us 1(866) 901-3212 https://www.mynevadacounty.com/488/Child-Support-Services
Placer County Placer County, CA Child Support Services, Rocklin Office 1000 Sunset Blvd., Suite #200, Rocklin, CA 95765 childsupport@pldcss.ca.gov 1(866) 901-3212 https://www.placer.ca.gov/departments/childsupport
Placer County Placer County, CA Child Support Services, Tahoe Office 5225 N. Lake Blvd., Carnelian Bay, CA 96140 childsupport@pldcss.ca.gov 1(866) 901-3212 https://www.placer.ca.gov/departments/childsupport
Plumas County Plumas County, CA Child Support Services 522 Lawrence St., Quincy, CA 95971 plumas.dcss@plumas.cse.ca.gov 1(866) 901-3212 http://www.countyofplumas.com/index.aspx?nid=78
Riverside County Riverside County, CA Department of Child Support Services, Riverside Office 2041 Iowa Ave, Riverside, CA, 92507 N/A 1(866) 901-3212 http://www.riversidechildsupport.com/
Riverside County Riverside County, CA Department of Child Support Services, Indio Office 47-950 Arabia St., Indio, CA, 92201 N/A 1(866) 901-3212 http://www.riversidechildsupport.com/
Riverside County Riverside County, CA Department of Child Support Services, Blythe Office 260 N. Broadway, Blythe, CA, 92225 N/A 1(866) 901-3212 http://www.riversidechildsupport.com/
Sacramento County Sacramento County, CA Child Support Services 3701 Power Inn Road, Sacramento, CA 95826 N/A 1(866) 901-3212 http://www.dcss.saccounty.net/Pages/default.aspx
Santa Cruz County Santa Cruz County, CA Department of Child Support Services 420 May Avenue, Santa Cruz CA 95060 N/A 1(866) 901-3212 http://www.dcss.co.santa-cruz.ca.us/
San Benito County San Benito County, CA Department of Child Support Services 2320 Technology Parkway, Hollister, CA 95023 N/A 1(866) 901-3212 http://www.dcss.co.santa-cruz.ca.us/
San Bernardino County San Bernardino County, CA Department of Child Support Services, Loma Linda Office 10417 Mountain View Ave., Loma Linda, CA 92354 childsupport@css.sbcounty.gov 1(866) 901-3212 http://hss.sbcounty.gov/dcss/
San Bernardino County San Bernardino County, CA Department of Child Support Services, Ontario Office 191 N. Vineyard Ave., Ontario, CA 91764 childsupport@css.sbcounty.gov 1(866) 901-3212 http://hss.sbcounty.gov/dcss/
San Bernardino County San Bernardino County, CA Department of Child Support Services, Victorville Office 15400 Civic Drive, Victorville, CA 92392 childsupport@css.sbcounty.gov 1(866) 901-3212 http://hss.sbcounty.gov/dcss/
San Diego County San Diego County, CA Department of Child Support Services, Central Region - Kearny Mesa 3666 Kearny Villa Road, San Diego, CA 92123 N/A 1(866) 901-3212 https://www.sandiegocounty.gov/dcss/
San Diego County San Diego County, CA Department of Child Support Services, North Inland - Live Well Center 649 W. Mission Avenue, Escondido, CA 92025 N/A 1(866) 901-3212 https://www.sandiegocounty.gov/dcss/
San Diego County San Diego County, CA Department of Child Support Services, South Region - Live Well Center 401 Mile of Cars Way, National City, CA 91950 N/A 1(866) 901-3212 https://www.sandiegocounty.gov/dcss/
San Francisco County San Francisco County, CA Department of Child Support Services 617 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94105 SFDCSS@sfgov.org 1(866) 901-3212 https://sfgov.org/dcss/
San Joaquin County San Joaquin County, CA Department of Child Support Services 826 North California Street, Stockton, Ca 95202 N/A 1(866) 901-3212 https://www.sjgov.org/childsupport/
San Luis Obispo County San Luis Obispo County, CA Department of Child Support Services 1200 Monterey Street, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401 N/A 1(866) 901-3212 http://www.slocounty.ca.gov/Departments/Child-Support.aspx
San Mateo County San Mateo County, CA Child Support Services 555 County Center, 2nd Floor, Redwood City, CA 94063 smcdcss@smcgov.org 1(866) 901-3212 http://www.smcdcss.com/
Santa Barbara County Santa Barbara County, CA Child Support Services, Santa Barbara Office 260 N San Antonio Rd Suite C, Santa Barbara, CA 93110 childsupport@co.santa-barbara.ca.us 1(866) 901-3212 http://www.countyofsb.org/css
Santa Barbara County Santa Barbara County, CA Child Support Services, Santa Barbara Office 201 S. Miller Street, Suite 206, Santa Maria, CA 93454 childsupport@co.santa-barbara.ca.us 1(866) 901-3212 http://www.countyofsb.org/css
Santa Clara County Santa Clara County, CA Department of Child Support Services 880 Ridder Park Drive, San Jose, CA 95131 Customerservice@dcss.sccgov.org 1(866) 901-3212 https://www.sccgov.org/sites/dcss/Pages/child-support-services.aspx
Shasta County Shasta County, CA Child Support Services 2600 Park Marina Dr., Redding, CA 96001 N/A 1(866) 901-3212 https://www.co.shasta.ca.us/index/dcss_index.aspx
Sierra County Nevada County, CA Regional Department of Child Support Services 950 Maidu Avenue, Suite 140, Nevada City, CA 95959 snrdcss@co.nevada.ca.us 1(866) 901-3212 http://www.sierracounty.ca.gov/201/Child-Support-Services
Siskiyou County Siskiyou County, CA Siskiyou Modoc Regional Department of Child Support Services 1215 South Main Street, Yreka, CA 96097 sisqmodoc-dcss@co.siskiyou.ca.us 1(866) 901-3212 http://www.co.siskiyou.ca.us/page/child-support-services
Solano County Solano County, CA Department of Child Support Services 435 Executive Court North, Fairfield, CA 94534 N/A 1(866) 901-3212 http://www.solanocounty.com/depts/dcss/default.asp
Sonoma County Sonoma County, CA Child Support Services 3725 Westwind Boulevard, Suite 200, Santa Rosa, CA 95403 N/A 1(866) 901-3212 http://www.sonoma-county.org/dcss
Stanislaus County Stanislaus County, CA Child Support Services 251 East Hackett Road, Modesto, CA 95358 N/A 1(866) 901-3212 http://www.stancodcss.org/
Sutter County Sutter County, CA Child Support Services 543 Garden Highway, Suite A, Yuba City, CA 95991 N/A 1(866) 901-3212 http://www.co.sutter.ca.us/doc/government/depts/css/css_home
Tehama County Tehama County, CA Child Support Services 1005 Vista Way, Suite A, Red Bluff, CA 96080 N/A 1(866) 901-3212 https://www.tehamachildsupport.org/
Tehama County Tehama County, CA Child Support Services - Los Molinos Government Center 7883 Highway 99E, Los Molinos, CA 96055 N/A 1(866) 901-3212 https://www.tehamachildsupport.org/
Tulare County Tulare County, CA Department of Child Support Services, Visalia Office 8040 W Doe Ave, Visalia, CA 93291 N/A 1(866) 901-3212 http://tularecounty.ca.gov/dcss/
Tulare County Tulare County, CA Department of Child Support Services, Porterville Office 259 N Main St, Porterville, CA 93257 N/A 1(866) 901-3212 http://tularecounty.ca.gov/dcss/
Ventura County Ventura County, CA Department of Child Support Services 5171 Verdugo Way, Camarillo, CA 93012 DCSS.Outreach@Ventura.org 1(866) 901-3212 https://www.ventura.org/child-support-services/
Yolo County Yolo County, CA Department of Child Support Services 100 West Court Street, Woodland, CA 95695 childsupport@yolocounty.org 1(866) 901-3212 http://www.yolocounty.org/law-justice/child-support-services
Yuba County Yuba County, CA Department of Child Support Services 5730 Packard Ave., Suite 200, Marysville, Ca 95901 N/A 1(866) 901-3212 http://www.co.yuba.ca.us/Departments/DCSS/