Frequently Asked Questions

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Starting Your Child Support Case

After a case is opened, how long does it take to receive child support payments?

The length of time to receive child support payments varies by case.

For instance, a case that needs an order established may take longer to receive payments than a case opening from a divorce action.

How can I obtain a copy of my court order?

You will need to request a copy of your order from the County of San Diego Superior Court Clerk's. Please access their website to determine which location has your court case file.

Why did the HHSA office refer my case to DCSS?

If a child is receiving cash aid, a referral is automatically sent to DCSS.

Can DCSS establish an order if I don't know where the noncustodial parent is working?

Yes, DCSS will still be able to establish an order.

Does DCSS provide legal help with child custody or visitation?

Through a federal grant, DCSS does have the ability to help eligible parents get a custody and visitation order along with their initial child support order. For more information, click here.

If parents already have a visitation order, and it needs to be changed, you may contact the Family Law Facilitator for assistance.

Can DCSS help me with Supervised Visitation?

No. You will need to review the Visitation Monitors Program Resource List.

I am paying child support, but now I have the custody of my child. Can I close my case & stop paying?

Contact DCSS for information about case closure.

How can I contact my child? I pay child support but don't know how to contact my child.

DCSS is unable to release personal information or forward items from one parent to another.

How can I re-open my case?

To re-open your case, click here to access the electronic application.

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Paternity and Unmarried Parents

How can I get a genetic test?

Please contact DCSS to speak with a child support professional.

How much does genetic testing cost?

In most instances, DCSS provides free genetic testing.

How long does it take to get the results?

Once all parties on the case have been tested, the results are received within four to six weeks.

Do I have to travel to San Diego to test if I live out-of-county or out-of-state?

No, we will schedule an appointment at the nearest available location for your convenience.

What will I need to bring to my appointment?

You will need to bring a valid California ID or valid California Driver's License.

Children must have one of the following forms of ID: Social Security card, Medi-Cal card, or birth certificate.

How is the genetic test conducted?

DCSS requires a saliva sample by buccal swab. This sample is then sent to the lab for DNA testing.

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Parenting Time Opportunities for Children (PTOC)

How do I know if I am eligible for the PTOC program?

Review the list of eligibility requirements. If your case qualifies, contact DCSS for the next steps.

I already have a child support order, am I still eligible for PTOC order?

No, your case is not eligible. Please contact the Family Law Facilitator if you are interested in getting a custody and visitation order.

Can DCSS help us change the existing custody and visitation order?

No, DCSS cannot help change existing custody and visitation order. Please contact the Family Law Facilitator.

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Going to Court

How is the amount of child support determined?

Child support is determined using guidelines established by California law. The most important factors are:

- each parent's monthly income

- the amount of time the child spends with each parent.

How can I get my child support amount changed?

Contact DCSS to request the order be reviewed for a modification. Either parent can request a modification review.

What do I do if I cannot attend my hearing date?

Contact the other party, and then DCSS, to determine if they will agree to a continuance.

Does the custodial party have to appear at the court hearing?

It is strongly recommended that the custodial party appear at the court hearing in order to provide information.

Will I have an attorney representing me in court?

DCSS does not represent either party.

You are welcome to hire your own attorney, but you are not required to.

How long will my hearing take?

Your hearing may take between two and four hours.

What documents should I bring to the hearing?

Click on the following link for information about going to court, and watch a video on how to scan and share a document in the What do I need to have for my Pre-Court Hearing Meeting section.

Can I bring my present spouse/ friend?

You may bring your present spouse or friend for moral support. However, DCSS will only discuss the case with you and the other party. Your present spouse or friend will not be allowed to participate in any case negotiations.

Can I bring my children?

DCSS does not provide childcare services. The courtrooms will not allow anyone under 18 years old to attend the hearing. DCSS strongly encourages parents to make childcare arrangements during the court hearing.

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Calculating Child Support

How is the amount of child support determined?

Child support is calculated using guidelines established by California law. The most important factors are:

- each parent's monthly income

- the amount of time the child spends with each parent.

How can I get my child support amount changed?

Contact DCSS to request the order be reviewed for a modification. Either parent can request a modification review.

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