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Frequently Asked Questions

How our Department Collects Child Support

Once a child support order has been taken, child support professionals will begin enforcing the order using both manual and automatic actions.

 

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  • What are the manual enforcement tools?

    Phone calls, emails, and faxes to non-custodial parents and employers to obtain payments.

  • What are the automatic enforcement tools?

    Income Withholding Order (IWO)

    • An IWO, also known as a wage assignment or a garnishment, is the court ordered child support amount that is requested from the Noncustodial Parents paycheck.
    • Noncustodial Parents must make direct payments to the State Disbursement Unit until an IWO is in place.
    • The IWO is required by law.
    • The employer will deduct the child support amount from each paycheck and send the amount to the State Disbursement Unit for processing. Processing may take up to seven business days.
    • Once an IWO is received, the employer must take out the child support until they receive a termination of withholding from DCSS, or the Noncustodial parent is separated from employment.
      An employer may take up to 50% of the Noncustodial Parents take home (net) pay.
    • Self-employed Noncustodial Parents are court ordered to make direct payments to the State Disbursement Unit.
    • Independent contractors should confirm the IWO has been received and put in place with their employers. If the IWO is not in place, the Noncustodial Parent must send payments directly to the State Disbursement Unit.

     

    National Medical Support Notices (NMSN)

    • A NMSN is a court order for health insurance coverage to be provided for the child(ren).
    • Employers or insurance carriers must enroll the child in the Noncustodial Parents’ health insurance plan once the notice is received.

     

    Automatic Income Withholding

    • The following agencies begin withholding after a support order has been entered and an electronic IWO is sent:

      • Employment Development Department (EDD)
      • State Disability Insurance (SDI)
      • Social Security Administration (SSA)
      • Division of Workers Compensation (DWC)

     

    Bank Levies

    • DCSS will take money from bank accounts when past due support is owed.
    • As long as you have a past due amount of $100.00 or greater, your accounts may be levied up to 4 times a year, per financial institution.
    • Bank levy fees are fees charged by the bank, and are non-refundable.

     

    License Suspension

    • The law requires delinquent child support cases to be reported to all state licensing agencies. When child support is not paid, the licensing agencies will suspend, revoke, or withhold:
      • Driver’s Licenses: Dealers, transporters, driving school
      • Professional Licenses: Guard Card, Baton, Firearms, Barbers, Cosmetologists, LVN, RN, Pharmacist, Dentist, Tax Preparer, etc.
      • Business Licenses: Real Estate, Contractors, Teaching Credentials, and State Bar (attorney) memberships
      • Fishing and Game licenses
    • Each month the full support is not paid, the Noncustodial parents license will be referred to the DMV for suspension. The DMV will send an 'intent to suspend' letter to the address of record.
    • Contact DCSS immediately to make a payment for a license release.
     

    Property Liens

    • A lien shall be placed against the Noncustodial Parent in any county in which property may be owned.

     

    Income Tax Intercepts

    • Intercepts will occur through both state and federal income tax refunds to pay past-due child support.
    • Jointly filed returns may also be intercepted.

     

    Lottery Intercepts

    • California State Lottery winnings can be intercepted to pay past due child support.

     

    Credit Reporting Agencies

    • DCSS will report all payments to the credit reporting agencies as on time or delinquent.

     

    Passport Denial

    • Past due child support is reported to the U.S. State Department and can result in the denial of a passport being issued or renewal.
    • The arrears must be paid in full before a passport can be released.

     

    Contempt

    • Failure to pay child support may result in a Contempt hearing. If the court determines that a parent has failed to make payments, they may result in additional fines and/or jail time.

     

    Case Closed?

    • Although DCSS or the other parent closed the case, this does not mean you no longer owe child support. The court order will remain valid until changed by a court hearing. To learn more about changing your court ordered support, click here.

     

Frequently Asked Questions

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Close My Child Support Case

Cased Closed icon

To request that DCSS stop enforcing your court order: 

Non-Public assistance cases

If you have never received cash aid, call us or send us a closure request.

Public assistance cases

If the child(ren) are receiving cash aid, the Department of Child Support Services is required by law to continue to enforce the support order, even if the custodial party does not want our services.

If the child(ren) stop receiving cash aid, we are required to collect the arrears that accumulated while the child(ren) were on aid.

Medical Enforcement only

If the cash aid is stopped, but the child(ren) continue to receive Medi-Cal aid, we will keep the case open for health insurance enforcement.
 

 

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Changing a Child Support Order

A change to a court order is called a modification. Either parent can ask that the Department of Child Support Services review the child support order any time there is a change in circumstance.

A change in circumstance may include:

  • Change in income of either party
  • Change in the amount of time the child(ren) spend with each parent or change in custody
  • Incarceration of the noncustodial parent

 

The department sends paperwork to both parties requesting information and verification of income, health insurance, and custody information. Once the completed packets are returned, your case manager will review the information to determine if your order qualifies for DCSS to file a motion requesting that the court-order be changed.

To qualify to have your motion for modification completed by DCSS, the current support amount must change by $50 or 20%.

To run a calculation, click here.

 

 

If the parties agree to the new amount, DCSS can complete an signed-agreement, or "stipulation", and file it with the court. Once filed, the stipulation will become the new court-order and the parents will not need to appear in court.

If either parent disagrees with the new amount, a court hearing will be set.

 

 

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Reduce Your Child Support Debt

What is the Compromise of Arrears Program (COAP)?

It is a debt reduction program for eligible participants with past due child support (also called arrears) owed to the State.

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Child support may be owed to the State government because the minor children received cash aid or were placed in foster care.

 

If you qualify for COAP, you may pay a reduced amount to satisfy your balance, rather than full amount due.  Any reduction in your arrears will be based on your current income and assets.

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What COAP doesn't do

  • forgive the entire debt
  • change ongoing monthly child support obligations
  • reduce arrears owed to the custodial party
  • reduce spousal support arrears

Remember

  • don't stop paying on current child support because you are applying for COAP
  • you must provide complete information and documents with your application
  • be honest on your application

 

 

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