Establish Child and Medical Support

Who can use this service?

California's Child Support Services Program works with parents - custodial and noncustodial - and guardians to ensure children and families receive court-ordered financial and medical support. Either parent (the one owed support or the one who is required to pay support), or the caretaker/ guardian of a child may open a Child Support Case by completing an application. DCSS will also open a case for any individual receiving California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKS) who has been referred by the county Department of Social Services. Court ordered legal guardians of a child, who do not receive Calworks may also open a case for support against both parents.

Is there a charge for this service?

This service is provided free of charge.

When and where is this service offered?

This service is available throughout the year during regular business hours except during scheduled holidays.

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Frequently Asked Questions

As a parent, what should I do when I get a Summons and Complaint?
Within thirty (30) days of receiving the Summons and Complaint, you should complete and file the Answer form, included in the Summons and Complaint packet, with the Superior Court clerk. If you need assistance, contact your LCSA or Family Law Facilitator in your county.
How is the amount of child support determined?

Child support is determined using guidelines established by California law. Child support amounts are based on each parent’s monthly income and the amount of time the child is cared for by each parent.

The Court Commissioner or Family Law Judge will set the amount of a Child Support Order. The Court will consider income from all sources. The income can be in the form of money, property, or services and can include:

  • Wages from a job
  • Tips
  • Commissions
  • Bonuses
  • Self-employment earnings
  • Unemployment benefits
  • Disability and workers’ compensation
  • Interest
  • Dividends
  • Rental income
  • Social Security or pensions
  • Any payments or credits due or becoming due, regardless of the source, including lottery and prize winnings.

For more information, see the California Guideline Child Support Calculator User Guide.

If you have any questions about the child support guidelines, you should talk with a lawyer, contact a Family Law Facilitator, or call your LCSA at 1 (866) 901-3212.  LCSA employees can give you general information, but cannot give you legal advice. For more information read PUB 249: Establishing a Child Support Order.

If I file a response with the Court, will I have a chance to talk to the judge?
Yes. If you respond to the Summons and Complaint and contest paternity or the amount of child support requested, you will be given a court date.
Is there any way to avoid having to go to court?
Yes. You can avoid going to court by signing a legal agreement (stipulation). The parent paying support and the LCSA can agree (stipulate) on the amount of child support if the party receiving support is receiving welfare benefits. If neither parent is receiving welfare benefits, then both parents may sign a legal agreement (stipulation) that establishes paternity and makes a formal arrangement to make child support payments.
Must the children be covered by health insurance?
Yes. Health insurance must be included in any Child Support Order. Even if it isn’t available immediately, the court order will order both parents to provide insurance when it does become available. This applies to all cases.
What else is in a stipulation?
Stipulations vary with circumstances, but the usual stipulation contains the agreement that the parent paying support is:
  • the parent of the child
  • willing to pay child support
  • willing to provide health insurance for the child if it is available through the parent’s employer
  • willing to allow the court to enter an order without appearing in court
What if a parent ignores or forgets about the Summons and Complaint?
If the parent does not respond, the estimated child support payment stated in the Summons and Complaint will be the amount of child support ordered by the court. When the Court enters the order, the parent will need to ask the Court for permission to challenge it.