Frequently Asked Questions

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

If you require Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accommodation when going to court, please complete the MC-410 form.

More information on the court process or ADA accommodation is available on the Superior Court website. You may also email the court at or call 619-844-5675.

To speak with a child support case manager, call 866-901-3212.

For general disability assistance, contact our ADA coordinator, Laura Rodal, at 858-650-6436, or email

If you require ADA accommodation when visiting our office, call our coordinator first, and notify the receptionist upon your arrival.


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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Voluntary Declaration of Parentage (VDOP)

What is a Voluntary Declaration of Parentage or VDOP?

The Voluntary Declaration of Parentage is a legal form that, once filed with the state, voluntarily establishes legal parentage and has the same legal effect of a court order. Unmarried parents complete and sign the declaration after the child is born.
If you have questions, contact the San Diego POP coordinator at 858-650-6522 or by email at

When and where can parents sign the declaration?

All hospital birthing centers in San Diego County participate in the POP program. After the baby is born, the unmarried parents will be asked if they want to complete the declaration. When parents complete the form in the hospital, their names can be added to the child’s original birth certificate.

Parents can also complete the declaration at the following locations after they leave the hospital:

Department of Child Support Services (8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., M-F)

Office of Vital Records (9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., M-F)

Parents can also request the declaration be mailed to them and sign the forms later in front of a notary. To have the declaration mailed to you, please contact us.

Military parents-to-be facing or already on deployment should contact a POP Coordinator to learn how they can establish parentage.

How can we get a copy of the declaration?

Either parent must complete the request form or send a written request with signature indicating if a certified copy or a faxed copy is needed to:

California Department of Child Support Services
P.O. Box 41970
Rancho Cordova, CA 95741-9070

If writing a request, provide the following information:

- Child’s complete name, date of birth, and county of birth
- Mother’s and father’s complete names and dates of birth
- Name of the parent making the request
- Mailing address and phone number
- Fax number, if requesting a faxed copy
- Relationship to the child
- Original signature; It will not be processed without it.

Please allow 10 working days for your request to be processed.
If you have questions about the POP Program, contact the San Diego County POP Coordinator at 858-650-6522 or by email at

How can we cancel the declaration?

Either parent may cancel or rescind the declaration by completing a Rescission of Parentage form. This form must be mailed to the California DCSS within 60 days of the original date the paternity declaration was signed.

You may get a copy of the rescission form by contacting the local POP Coordinator or on the CA DCSS web site.

I’m not 18 years old, can the baby’s father and I still sign a declaration?

Yes. However, the declaration will not establish paternity until 60 days after both parents have reached the age of 18 or are emancipated in accordance with the California Family Code.

I am separated from my husband, but not divorced yet. Can my boyfriend, who is the baby’s biological father, sign the declaration?

No. The law presumes that as long as you are legally married, the husband is the father of the baby. Only the court can establish paternity with someone other than your legal husband.

Can the declaration be submitted when a parent does not have current home address or a valid Social Security number?

Yes, address and Social Security number are optional.

Can a father that is married to someone else sign a declaration?

Yes. The father, although married to someone else, can sign the declaration to have his name entered on the child’s birth certificate as the legal father.

Can parents complete a declaration when a child is born alive and then dies shortly after birth?

Yes. Parents may complete and sign a declaration when there is a live birth and the child dies shortly after birth.

Can a declaration be completed when the father has died prior to the birth of the child?

No. If the unmarried father has died prior to the child’s birth, the father’s name cannot be added to the birth certificate using a declaration.
Parentage must be established through the court process. The mother should contact an attorney or a Family Law Facilitator to determine how to proceed with the process of establishing parentage for the child.

Can the biological parents sign a declaration form if the child is going to be adopted?


Can same sex couples that conceive a child through artificial insemination sign a declaration?

Yes. Female same-sex couples who want to establish parentage can do so by signing a Voluntary Declaration of Parentage. However, male same-sex couples cannot.

To check eligibility and for more information on changes to the Parentage Opportunity Program and Voluntary Declaration of Parentage effective January 1, 2020, visit the California DCSS website.

What do I do if a default court order established paternity, but I don’t think I am the child’s biological father?

AB 252 allows the court to order genetic testing (under certain circumstances) to determine whether the previously established father is the biological father.
Contact an attorney or the Family Law Facilitator for legal assistance.


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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.

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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Changing a Court Order

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.

Is there a minimum amount it needs to change?

The child support amount should change $50 or by 20% for a motion to be filed. Participants may file their own motions at any time.

How often can I request my order be changed?

Either party can request a change to the order whenever there is a change in circumstances. There is no limit to the amount of review requests that can be made.

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Debt Reduction Program

What is the Child Support Debt Reduction Program?

The Debt Reduction Program is provided by the state of California for eligible parents to pay less than the total child support debt.

To be eligible for the program, the child support debt must be owed to the state for periods when the dependent(s) received cash aid.

For more information on the Debt Reduction Program, click here.

To fill out the Debt Reduction Program Application form, click here.

What if I have my child(ren) back? Can I still apply for the Debt Reduction Program?

Yes. COA – Family Reunification Program is available for parents whose child(ren) received cash aid with a guardian or relative caregiver, but have now been returned to the custody of the parent.

How much of my arrears balance will I be able to compromise and who do I pay?

Parents applying for a compromise may receive a substantial reduction and this amount must be paid to the state.

Am I able to compromise arrears that are owed directly to the custodial parent/party?

No. Only state debt is available for a compromise; any balances owed to the custodial party must be paid in full prior to applying for the Debt Reduction Program.

If I am able to compromise my state arrears, will I still owe child support because my dependent(s) are under 18?

Yes. If the child(ren) are minors, and current child support is owed, the parent must pay the terms of current support before and after an agreed compromise.

Will I be required to pay anything in exchange to compromise my arrears?

No. There are no penalties or fees attached to the Debt Reduction Program agreement. If approved, the parent must be prepared to pay off the reduced balance of the case.

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Collecting Child Support

Why did DCSS attach my wages?

The Family Support Act of 1988 requires that all court orders for child support include an income withholding order.

What happens if a parent falls behind on his or her child support payments?

If a parent falls behind, contact DCSS immediately to discuss the barrier to payment.

All available enforcement tools can be used to enforce the child support obligation.

Why is DCSS charging interest on my child support order?

According to current California law, interest accrues at the rate of 10% per year on any unpaid child support obligation. DCSS is mandated to enforce child support obligations including the interest at the legal rate owed on any unpaid child support (arrears).

Why was my license suspended?

Anytime you miss a payment, or fail to make the full support payment, your license may be referred for suspension.

Contact our office about your options with regard to getting your license released.

Why is there a lien filed against me?

DCSS is mandated to record a legal document with the County Recorders Office that creates a lien against any real property the noncustodial parent may own now or in the future.

I pay my ongoing child support and my arrears payment every month. Why did DCSS intercept my state and federal tax refunds?

State and federal laws provide that under most conditions, your federal and state tax refund can be intercepted by DCSS as payment on the past due support, even if you are current in your monthly payments.

I filed taxes with my spouse (married filing jointly). DCSS intercepted my taxes. What do I do?

Contact the IRS. They will provide you a form called the "Injured Spouse Claim." Once submitted to the IRS, they will review the taxes and make a decision.

Why is my child support debt on my credit report?

DCSS is required to report your ongoing child support obligation, arrears (past due) balance and your payment history to the major credit reporting agencies.

Can a noncustodial parent be arrested for non-payment of child support?

When the noncustodial parent is not meeting the support need of his or her child, DCSS has the ability to refer the case for prosecution. Prior to getting to this point, DCSS enforces the court order through various enforcement tools, such as license suspensions, bank and/or wage levies, and income tax intercepts, etc.

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Making Payments

How will I make my payments?

All payments should be made directly to the SDU. Payments should be sent no later than the 20th of the month.

You can make payments to the SDU online, telephone, via cash at participating MoneyGram or PayNearMe locations, or in the local office.

Be sure to allow for a 3-5 day processing time.

Can I continue to make credit card payments?


Can I go to my child support office and make a payment?

Yes, but you can also make payments online or through MoneyGram or PayNearMe with many locations near you.

My payment is taken out of my paycheck. How will I be affected?

Your employer will receive instructions for sending child support payments to the SDU.

All payments will be credited on the day the payment is received at the SDU, not when it is deducted from your paycheck.

It will be your responsibility to make the support payments directly to the SDU until your employer notifies you that the withholding is in place.

How can I check my account balance?

To check your balance due, you will need to log into Customer Connect.

If you have not set up your Customer Connect account, contact DCSS so we can help get you started.

Can I specify how my child support payments are applied?

No. DCSS must follow State regulations when applying child support payments.

Is the noncustodial parent obligated to pay child support while in jail?

Yes, however you should contact DCSS when either parent is incarcerated.

How can I get a list of previously made payments?

You may log into Customer Connect to access all payments made or received.

You may call the automated phone system to check the status of your last 10 payments.

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Receiving Payments

What can I do to make sure I get my check as fast as possible?

Sign up for direct deposit at SDU.

If I already have direct deposit, do I have to enroll again?

No. If your support payment is already going into your bank account, nothing will change. Your payment will continue to be deposited into your account.

Can I still call the local child support office if I have questions about my case?

Yes. The local office will still answer your case related questions. SDU is only responsible for collecting and processing child support payments.

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Closing Your Case

I am no longer getting cash aid, can I close my child support case?

You may close your portion of the case, but DCSS will continue attempting to collect the balance of the debt owed to the county.

I am only on Medi-Cal, do I have to have a child support case?

No, you do not have to have a case. However, if you were previously receiving cash aid, and a case was opened, we will keep the case open for health insurance enforcement only.

The father and I are back together, how do I close my case?

You may contact DCSS to request closure or complete the closure form and email to

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Income Withholding Order for Support (IWO)

What is an IWO? What is an Order/Notice to Withhold Income for Child Support (FL-195)?

An IWO, or Order/Notice to Withhold Income for Child Support (FL-195), also called the Income Withholding for Support, is a court order which requires employers to withhold or garnish an employee’s wages for payment of child support. This form may also be referred to as:

- wage assignment
- garnishment
- withholding
- child support lien

You may be served by a local child support agency (LCSA), private party, or another state’s child support agency.

Now that I’ve gotten an IWO, what am I supposed to do?

Determine who sent the IWO.

If the IWO was sent from the following agencies, you do not need to send a copy of the IWO with the payment:

- State Department of Child Support
- Local Child Support Agency
- Out-of-state child support agency

If the IWO was sent from a private party or an Attorney, you will need to send a copy of the IWO to the California State Disbursement Unit with the first withholding payment. The IWO and payment shall be sent to:

CA State Disbursement Unit (SDU)
PO Box 980218
West Sacramento, CA 95798-0218

OR by fax at 1-888-587-5471, Attention: Outreach

OR by e-mail to:

Read it carefully and follow its instructions.

Begin sending payments to the SDU.

Why does the state need a copy of the IWO on my employee?

Providing a copy of the IWO to the California State Disbursement Unit (SDU) allows them to open a case and ensure payments are processed timely and accurately.

Will I need to send a copy of the IWO with each payment?

No. You only need to send a copy when you receive a new IWO from an attorney or other private party.

The IWO doesn’t have a judge’s signature. Do I still have to comply with it?

Yes. The signature of a judicial officer is not required when the order is sent by a Local Child Support Agency (LCSA), or out-of-state child support agency. Once the IWO is entered by the SDU, the SDU will send you a notification with a Child Support Enforcement (CSE) case number.

If the IWO is not from an LCSA, you should still consider it valid and send a copy to the California State Disbursement Unit (SDU), or the address listed on the IWO.

If an IWO is from another state, must the payment be sent to that state?

Yes. You must comply with IWOs from other states.

Instructions on the out of state IWO will direct the employer where to mail the payment.

Please do not send payments ordered by other states to the California State Disbursement Unit.

What if the name and/or Social Security number on the IWO do not match my employee?

Contact DCSS at 866-901-3212 to find out if there is an error in the Social Security number or name, or if this could be a case of mistaken identity.

My employee has a Non IV-D case. What is Non-IV-D?

A Non-IV-D case (also known as a private case) is a case that has been prepared and filed by a private attorney, paralegal, or participant on the case.

Often private cases are a result of a divorce decree or dissolution.

Some Non IV-D cases become IV-D cases when if accounts become delinquent.

Why did I just receive a non-compliance letter?

You have received a non-compliance letter as you have not sent in a child support payment as directed by the IWO. If you feel you have received this letter in error, please contact DCSS.

Why did I just receive a non-compliance letter and I am currently sending wage assignment payments?

If a non-compliance letter is received and payments are being remitted, contact DCSS. This could be a case of misapplied payment or an error in our automated system.

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Employer Making Payments

What should I do if the employee does not have sufficient earnings to satisfy the IWO?

Prioritize deductions in the following order:

First, pay current support, family support and/or spousal support

Second, pay current monthly health premiums and/or other current medical support

Third, pay any ordered support arrears

Lastly, pay any remaining ordered amounts

What should I do if the employee does not have sufficient earnings to satisfy multiple IWOs?

Prioritize deductions in the following order:

First, to current support, family support and/or spousal support

Second, to current monthly health premiums and/or other current medical support

Third, to payment of ordered support arrears

Lastly, to any remaining ordered amounts

Do I need to send in a separate check for each employee that has an IWO?

The SDU encourages all employers to make payments electronically via Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT). Making payments electronically saves employers time and money by allowing employers to combine multiple withholding payments while reducing paper and printing costs. Click here to learn more about your payment options.

If you cannot send electronic payments, all of your California child support withholdings can be included in a single check. You must include the following information with the payment:

- Employees’ full names
- Employees’ Social Security numbers
- Court order/case numbers
- CSE case numbers (as provided by the SDU)
- Amount withheld from each employee
- Date withheld

What do I do if an employee has other liens against their income?

Child support withholdings take priority over all liens, unless an IRS tax lien was served on the employer before the IWO.

You must withhold the required amount as long as the amount does not exceed 50% of the employee’s income.

What should I do if my payment is dishonored or returned by the bank?

Call 1-888-851-6317 Monday-Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. PST and talk with a state representative who will provide further instructions.

Be prepared to provide the following to the representative:

- employee case number or participant ID number
- check number
- dollar amount

What should I do if I need to place a stop payment request with my bank?

Call 1-888-851-6317 Monday-Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. PST and talk with a state representative who will provide further instructions.

Be prepared to provide the following to the representative:

- employee case number or participant ID number
- check number
- dollar amount

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California State Disbursement Unit (SDU)

Am I required to send payments through the SDU?

Yes. All income withholding payments need to be sent to the SDU.

How does sending all income-withholding payments to the SDU benefit my business?

Employers benefit in several ways:

Payments are sent to a single location.

Payments can be submitted using a credit card.

Payments can be made electronically, thereby increasing speed, accuracy, security, and convenience.

You have access to a record of payments received by the SDU.

What should I do if I am still sending payments directly to the party receiving support?

You should stop sending payments to the party receiving support immediately.

All payments should be sent to the SDU for processing.

If the IWO is not made out to the SDU, do I need a new order?

No, you are still required to send all child support withholdings to the SDU.

Be sure to make all payments payable to the SDU, not the party receiving support.

May I allow an employee to pay child support directly to the SDU as long as I know the payments are being made?

No, all employers are required to send their employees child support payments to the SDU.

If an employer fails to send payments to the SDU, the employer may face charges of contempt.

What happens after I send the IWO to the SDU?

The SDU will enter the data into the California Child Support Enforcement (CSE) system.

The SDU will send the employer a notification (DCSS 0507) from the California Department of Child Support Services with the CSE case number for each employee.

This CSE case number must be included with all payments sent to the SDU for that employee.

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Payment Options

Am I required to send my income withholding payments using Electronic Fund Transfer (EFT)?

If you are required to pay your tax or employment obligations to the California Franchise Tax Board (FTB) or the Employment Development Department (EDD) using EFT, then California law also requires you to make your child support income withholding payments by EFT. (CA Family Code section 17309.5)

What electronic payment options are available for employers?

Employers can make EFT payments for child support via Automated Clearing House Credit (ACH).

Employers can make electronic payments with a credit card online at SDU.

Click here to learn more about your electronic payment options.

How does the Automated Clearing House (ACH) process work?

To use the ACH process to submit your payments, you will need to:

Complete an enrollment form.

Submit the enrollment form to the SDU:

- by fax at 1-888-587-5471
- or by mail to:

CA State Disbursement Unit (SDU)
PO Box 981326
West Sacramento, CA 95798-1326

Review the employer EFT Guide provided by the SDU and work with your financial institution.

Create a test file for review by the SDU.

Initiate payments after you receive the authorization letter from the SDU.

How do I make Automated Clearing House (ACH) debit payments if there is an ACH debit block on my bank account?

To avoid your ACH debit child support payment(s) from being rejected, contact your bank and provide them with the DCSS Company Identification Number (Company ID).

Company ID: 1946001347
Company Entry Description: CAEPWEB

Verify with your bank that the ACH debit block has been removed from your account before making your payment.

How do I register to make payments on the website?

To register at SDU, you will need to enter your Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN) and contact information.

You will be required to create a user name and password.

A confirmation will be sent to the email address that you provide.

How does making payments on the website work?

Once you have registered, login and select the “Make a Payment" button.

Set up your payment profile. You will need either your bank account information or credit/debit card information for this step.

Next, enter each employee’s information including participant ID and Social Security number.

Now you can initiate payments.

Information is available on the website, but if you have further questions, call 1-866-901-3212.

Can I set up recurring payments?

No. Recurring payment functionality is not available for employers; however, you can schedule a future dated payment.

Can I save my employee’s child support payment information on the website?

Yes. You can create a template that stores the information, which you can modify if necessary.

Can I make a credit/debit card payment where the card-issuing bank is outside the United States?

Yes, you may use a credit/debit card where the card-issuing bank is outside the United States. Review your cardholder agreement to determine fees that you may incur from your bank.

How do I register to make payments using the IVR?

To register, you need to call 1-866-901-3212, select option 1, then press 1 and enter your Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN). You will be routed to an SDU Customer Service Representative (CSR). Once you are registered, you will be asked to create your Personal Identification Number (PIN).

If I can’t send payments electronically, where do I mail payments?

Child support payments, made payable to “CA State Disbursement Unit,” should be mailed to:

CA State Disbursement Unit (SDU)
PO Box 989067
West Sacramento, CA 95798-9067

*Be sure to include your employees CSE case number or participant ID number on the check or money order.

How do I handle lump sum payments such as bonuses, commissions, benefits, and severance payments?

Employers should call 1-866-901-3212 when they know that an employee will be receiving a lump sum payment.

My employee is an independent contractor. Can I withhold his/her income?

Yes, you are required to withhold the income of your independent contractor following receipt of the IWO.

For more information, please review the Employer Handbook or call the Department of Child Support Services' Call Center at 1-866-901-3212.

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Website Data Entry/Database Questions

Is there a limit on how many employees I can enter on the website?

No. There is no limit to the number of employees you can enter on the website.

Can I use an existing file of our child support payment information to provide a bulk file upload of payment information?

Yes. Employers may use an existing employee child support payment file if it is in Comma Separated Value (CSV) format. There are instructions on the website, including a sample worksheet for reference. If you have questions or need assistance with the bulk file upload process, call 1-866-901-3212 (option 1).

Are there advantages to registering on the website?

Yes. As a registered employer, you can manage your account by:

- creating payment templates, which allows you to store bank account or credit/debit card information.

- storing employee child support information

- viewing your payment history

What if I forget my password?

If you forget your password, you can reset your password by clicking on the ‘Forgot your password?’ link on the login page. A temporary, one-time use password will be emailed to you. You will need to change your password after you log in.

What do I do if I have additional questions?

Additional information can be found in the Employer Handbook or by calling 1-866-901-3212.

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