Apply for Child Support Services

The Child Support Services Department (DCSS) provides child and medical support services to the community. 

If you are the parent and have custody of a minor child or legal guardianship, you can apply for a case with San Luis Obispo County DCSS. Once an application is received, it will be processed within 20 calendar days through our Intake unit and a case number will be assigned.


Child Support Enforcement

For persons paying support (PPS) who don't make the court ordered payments, there are a number of ways to pursue enforcement for collection of support. LCSA's are mandated by the state to issue an income withholding order (IWO) to the PPS's employer. If the IWO is not honored or the PPS's employer is unknown, there are further actions to consider for enforcement. Due to the nature of each case being unique, the best method of enforcement is determined on a case-by-case basis.

  • Income Withholding Order (IWO)
  • National Medical Support Notice (NMSN)
  • Intercepts
  • Liens
  • License Suspension (SLMS)
  • Credit Reporting
  • Seek-Work Order/Judgment Debtor's Exam
  • Civil Contempt

Child Support Order Modification

Once child support is established, it continues at the same rate until it is legally changed. A Child Support Order is eligible for review every three (3) years, however a case can be reviewed for modification sooner if there is substantial change in circumstance. Either party may request a review of their order by contacting their caseworker. The support amount may increase or decrease depending on the facts presented at the time. The Local Child Support Agency (LCSA) will gather visitation and financial information from both parties, such as pay stubs, tax return statements, day care verifications, and health insurance premiums. This information is entered into the California Guideline Child Support Calculation, which determines the monthly child support amount due.

COVID-19: If you are unable to pay your child support due to quarantine, shelter-in-place directives, self-isolation or layoffs, WE CAN HELP!
STEP 1: Contact your office right away to request a “review and adjustment,” also called a “modification.” We can get you the paperwork quickly to start this.
STEP 2: If you and the other parent can agree, we can help you stipulate to change your child support order.
PLEASE NOTE: Although your order remains in place unless modified, we can work with you not only to modify the amount, but on how we would collect the order.
PLEASE reach out to your caseworker with the details of your situation.

Child Support Payment Collection

In April 2020 the California Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) changed how electronic payments are processed. The web site where DCSS accepts electronic payments transitioned its bank account payment (ACH) service to a national web-based pay site for child support payments called ExpertPaySM. Payments processed through ExpertPaySM are then sent to the California State Disbursement Unit (SDU) for disbursal. 

All payments for IV-D cases must be processed through the SDU. Payments must have identifying information to insure proper credit:

  • Case numbers
  • Social Security Number(s)
  • Payor/Payee Name
  • Participant Identification Number(s)
  • “Child Support” should be indicated in the Memo section of any check/money order

The SDU will post the payment according to the date it is received.

Child Support Payment Distribution

When a payment is received, it is forwarded to the family within two (2) days unless the money is owed to the County or must be held for some other reason.

All collections, except federal tax refund intercepts, are credited to current monthly support (child support first, medical second, and spousal third.)

If there is money remaining after paying current support, it is used to pay arrearages. The money for each arrearage type is first applied to principal and then to interest. The person paying support (PPS)/obligors whose employer pays bi-weekly may incur a small amount of arrears each month if the current support obligation is not fulfilled. This arrears amount is typically made up with the extra paycheck months during the year.

If there is money remaining after all arrearages have been paid, it is credited to be applied for the future month. If the family is aided, the credit amount is held by the child support agency and applied to the case in a future month if a current support payment is not made, otherwise it is paid to the family.

Complaint Resolution & State Hearing

Complaint Resolution Process 

If you have a complaint against any Local Child Support Agency (LCSA) for any action or inaction:

  1. And your request for complaint resolution is made within 90 days from the date you knew or should have known about the subject of your complaint
  2. And you have already spoken to a Customer Service Representative, your caseworker, or a Supervisor
  3. And you are not satisfied with the results

You may request to speak with the Ombudsperson for your assigned LCSA or make a complaint in writing by completing and submitting a request for complaint resolution form, or by calling the LCSA directly at 1-866-901-3212. 

After submitting your complaint, the LCSA has thirty (30) days to respond. If a complaint cannot be resolved within 30 days, the LCSA may extend the time for resolving a complaint up to a maximum of 30 additional days. If the period for resolving a complaint is extended for any reason, the LCSA will mail a notice stating the reason for the extension.

View information regarding the Complaint Resolution process provided by the State of California.

State Hearing Process

You have a right to a State Hearing if you have gone through the Complaint Resolution Process and you are not satisfied with LCSA's written response to your complaint:

  1. Your request for a State Hearing must be made within 90 days of the date you received the LCSA's written decision to your complaint.

  2. If the local child support agency does not respond to your complaint in writing, you must request a State Hearing with 90 days from the date of your complaint to the LCSA.

Only the following issues are subject to State Hearing:

  • Denial of child support services
  • Child support services not provided timely or in the manner required by law
  • Incorrect or missing support payments or the amount of arrears owed
  • Decisions to close a case

Forms to request a State Hearing are available at each LCSA office or by calling toll-free 1-866-289–4714. The local child support agency will assist the person paying support (PPS) or the person receiving support (PRS) in requesting a State Hearing. Instructions for requesting a State Hearing are included on all complaint resolution forms used by the local child support agency.


You will be notified of the date, time and place of the hearing. If you are unable to attend, ask for a new hearing date or for the hearing to be held by telephone.

Important Complaint Resolution Dates!

  • You must file your complaint within 90 days of the date you knew, or should have known, about the subject of your complaint.
  • You must request a State Hearing within 90 days of the date of the written decision of the local child support agency on your complaint.
  • If the local child support agency does not respond to your complaint in writing, you must request a State Hearing within 90 days from the date of your complaint to the local child support agency.

Employer Income Withholding

Employers play a critical role in the child support process. As part of our enforcement actions, the Local Child Support Agency (LCSA) sends the employer an Income Withholding Order (IWO) requiring the employer to withhold child support from an employee’s paycheck. LCSAs may also send the employer the National Medical Support Notice (NMSN) which requires them to enroll the employee’s child in the employer’s health insurance plan.

Employers have child support responsibilities in seven (7) broad areas:

  • Report employee new hires and rehires
  • Comply with requests for verification of employment
  • Comply with National Medical Support Notice requirements
  • Withhold income (garnishments)
  • Submit mandated payments (including lump sum and severance pay)
  • Notify LCSA before issuing lump sums
  • Report terminated employees with income withholding orders from LCSA

Establish Child and Medical Support

The Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) 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 person paying support's (PPS) paycheck to pay child support.

Establish Parentage

Establishing parentage is the process of determining the legal parents of a child. When parents are married, parentage is automatically established in most cases. If parents are unmarried, parentage establishment is not automatic and the process should be started by both parents as soon as possible for the benefit of the child. Unmarried parents can establish parentage by signing the Voluntary Declaration of Parentage (VDOP). This can be done in the hospital after the child is born, or at a Local Child Support Agency.

Unmarried parents who sign the Voluntary Declaration of Parentage form help their child(ren) gain the same rights and privileges of a child born within a marriage. Some of those rights include: financial support from both parents, access to important family medical records, access to the person paying support's (PPS) medical benefits, and the emotional benefit of knowing who both parents are. More information regarding parentage is available on the State website.

Estimate Child Support

You can calculate an estimated child support payment by utilizing the California Guideline Child Support Calculator. The California Guideline Child Support Calculator is based on California Child Support Guidelines and can be used to estimate the amount of child support that may be ordered in your case.  This calculator provides only an estimate and is not a guarantee of the amount of child support that will be ordered. Other factors may affect the amount of child support awarded.