Get Started with Child Support




Have you recently opened a child support case? Are you interested in opening one? San Diego Child Support is here to help you get started with your case.





Applying for child support services is easy! If you need a computer with internet access, you may use public computers for free at any of our offices. Staff is available to help if you have any questions. We can also help via LiveChat (click on the Need Help icon) or virtually (click on the Virtual Meeting icon).

Click here to apply.


Once the state receives your application, they will open a case. Shortly after that, a case manager will reach out to you and will also contact the other parent. When we have everything we need, we will begin the process.  This may take some time depending on your case. Feel free to ask us about other services, resources, and programs available to you.


You may not need to go to court to get an order. Your case manager will work with you using the same court guideline to calculate the child support amount. If both parents agree on the support amount, we can draw up an agreement in our office, and we will file it with the court. If the parties cannot agree on an amount, we will need to set up a court hearing.

To get an estimate, check our online calculator. 

Once we have a court order, we will send an income withholding order (IWO) to the other parent’s employer. The amount and frequency of the payment depends on the terms of the order. If we are unable to collect through an employer, we have other tools to collect. All payments go through the State Disbursement Unit (SDU). To receive your support payments, enroll in direct deposit or through an electronic payment card.

Learn more about payment options here.




What our customers are saying



Frequently Asked Questions

Calculating Child Support

How much will my child support be?

To determine the correct child support amount, the court uses a "statewide uniform guideline formula".  The most important components of the fomula are:

image, calculator
  • the number of children involved
  • both parents' incomes
  • the amount of time each parent spends with the child ("visitation")

Expand All | Collapse All

  • Income

    The guideline formula uses both parents’ average after-tax income. Income is money from almost any source including, but not limited to:

    • Wages (including tips, bonuses, commissions)
    • Self-employment
    • Unemployment benefits
    • Certain disability benefits
    • Worker's Compensation
    • Interest income on savings accounts and other investments
    • The judge may impute income to either parent. Imputed income is the amount of money a parent is able to earn, instead of the parent’s actual income.

    The following are deducted from earnings:

    • Taxes
    • Mandatory union dues and retirement contributions
    • Health insurance
    • Child and spousal support ordered and being paid

    The court may allow deductions such as:

    • Job-related expenses
    • Extraordinary health expenses
    • Uninsured major losses
    • Expenses of either parent’s other child(ren)


  • Visitation

    Time the child spends with each parent is a factor used to calculate child support. DCSS considers the actual amount of time spent with each parent rather than the amount of time granted in a custody and visitation or other court-orders. This ensures that child support orders are right-sized for the current circumstances and needs of the parties.

    When the amount of time spent with either parent changes, that information should be reported to DCSS as a change in circumstance.



To run an estimate of your support click here.



Frequently Asked Questions



Establishing Paternity

image, baby

Did you know there are three ways to establish fatherhood?

  1. Children born within the marriage
  2. Paternity Opportunity Program
  3. Court order of paternity
image, genetic testing



If paternity of the child(dren) is at issue, we provide free genetic (DNA) testing.

To obtain this free service:

Following the genetic test appointment, you will receive:

  • Notice of hearing to establish paternity and support
  • Results of the paternity test



image, cell phone


If you do not dispute the genetic test results or the child support amount on the proposed judgment, call us today to ask us about a stipulated judgment (agreement).



Set Aside Paternity

If paternity has previously been established by order of the court and you would like the judgment set aside, please contact the Family Law Facilitator’s Office.



Frequently Asked Questions

Parenting Time: Custody and Visitation



What is Parenting Time?

Parenting time is also known as custody and visitation

image, family

Spending time with your child on a regular basis provides them

  • a schedule they can rely on
  • increases trust and emotional security
  • enhances social, development, and academic progress
  • decreases risk of depression and anxiety for child(ren)
  • reduces behavioral problems



Customers often ask DCSS to help them get a custody and visitation order.

We are now able to provide this service!

Do you already have a verbal agreement that you would like to make an order? Print and complete the Parenting Time Order options worksheet and make an appointment with your child support professional today!


Frequently Asked Questions