California parents seeking child support may be scared or intimated by the thought of going to court. Avoiding the time and expense of litigation is also often a priority. Luckily, if you and your child’s parent can agree on the terms of child support, you can obtain an order without setting foot in a courtroom.
Getting the process going
The first step in the California child support process is opening the case. Any parent or legal guardian can open a child support case. A child support application can be filed online or in person. Once filed, you will be contacted by your local child support agency.
You will need to know the location of the other parent and have their contact information available. If you do not know their location, the child support agency may be able to locate them, depending on how much of their information you can provide. A child support order cannot be entered until the other parent receives notice of the application, in accordance with due process.
Once the other parent is located, they will be served with a summons and complaint. They will have 30 days to respond to the complaint, or a default support order will be entered. Once served, if an agreement is reached on an amount of child support, both of you may be able to meet with a caseworker at your local office who will set up the official order, which is called a stipulated agreement.
The stipulated agreement is then filed with the court and payments will begin according to a schedule. The amount can be changed in the future if there is a change of circumstances in the life of either parent.
Resolving family law issues in a non-adversarial manner is beneficial for the children involved and reduces anxiety for the parents. Although it is often best to resolve child support outside of a courtroom, it is also important to make sure you are receiving enough support to meet you and your child’s needs. Help in determining the appropriate amount, and guidance through the process is always available.