How to Get an Order for Child Support
To get an order for child support, you must have an open case with the Court. If you do not have an existing case, you will need to file paperwork to open a case.
If you ARE MARRIED to the other parent, then you may file an action for divorce or legal separation. If you do not want to file for divorce or legal separation, you may file a Petition for Custody and Support of Minor Children.
If you are NOT MARRIED to the other parent, then you may file a parentage action. This means you are asking the court to legally establish who the other parent is. You are also allowed to ask for child support, custody and visitation orders at the same time.
What is a Request for Order?
When you file your divorce, legal separation or parentage case, you may also file paperwork called a Request for Order. A Request for Order is your request to the court to make orders for child support or other issues, and a court order for the other party in your case to come to Court.
A REQUEST FOR ORDER CAN BE USED TO:
- Ask for temporary child support orders when you first file your parentage, divorce, or legal separation case.
- Ask for child support orders in an existing case.
- Ask for a change to your current child support orders. This change can be to request an increase or a decrease of the current child support order.
YOU CAN PREPARE A REQUEST FOR ORDER SEVERAL DIFFERENT WAYS:
Do it Yourself:
Contact the Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) to open a child support case for you, at no charge to you:
1055 North Main Street
Santa Ana, CA 92701
Ask a Lawyer to Help You:
You can look for a lawyer in the phone book or call the Lawyer Referral Service of the Orange County Bar Association.
How to Prepare and File a Request for Order
FORMS YOU WILL NEED:
If you are the person filing the Request for Order (called the "moving party"), you must fill out these forms:
If you are the party requesting orders, then fill out forms:
- Request for Order (FL-300)
- Income and Expense Declaration (FL-150)
- Optional: Child Custody and Visitation Application Attachment (FL-311)
- Optional: Declaration (MC-030)
- If you are writing a declaration, you may view the following demonstration for help: Writing a Declaration to support your Request for Hearing<
You also need to have these forms served on the other party along with the filed forms and attachments:
- A BLANK Responsive Declaration to Request for Order (FL-320)
- A BLANK Income and Expense Declaration (FL-150)
STEPS FOR FILING AND SERVING THE REQUEST FOR ORDER FORMS:
Step 1: Fill out the forms:
If you have an existing case, no matter how old, use the same case title and case number. After you fill out your forms, make copies for all parties involved (for you, the other party, and one for the Department of Child Support Services, if they are also involved).
Step 2: File the forms:
Take your completed forms to the Family Law Clerk’s office at the Lamoreaux Justice Center in Orange to file. The Clerk’s Office is located on the 7th Floor, in room 706.
If the Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) is already collecting child support in your case, your hearings will be at the Lamoreaux Justice Center in Orange.
If the Department of Child Support Services is not collecting child support in your case, then your hearings will be either at Lamoreaux Justice Center in Orange or Central Justice Center in Santa Ana. Please refer to your filed paperwork to verify the location of your hearing.
Step 3: Serve the forms:
Before the hearing, you must have someone serve the other party with clerk stamped filed copies of the court forms, as well as blank response forms. You are not allowed to serve the papers yourself. Your papers must be served by an adult (over 18) who is not a party in your case, by law enforcement or by a hired professional process server.
If the Department of Child Support Services is collecting child support, someone over 18 — not you — must personally serve a copy of your Request for Order on the Department of Child Support Services.
The person who serves the papers must complete a Proof of Personal Service (FL-330) or Proof of Service by Mail (FL-335) for each party served. The proof of service says he or she had the papers delivered to the other party.
Step 4: File the Proof of Service:
File the original proof of service at the Family Law Clerk’s office as soon as possible. Bring a filed copy of the proof of service to your hearing. If you cannot file the proof of service before the hearing, you must bring the original to your hearing.
Step 5: Go to your hearing:
Come to Court early. Look for your case number on the court calendar. The calendar is on the wall outside the courtroom door. Make sure your case is listed on the calendar. If it is not listed, and your papers say this is the right date and time, show your papers to the deputy inside the courtroom.
Remember: Bring copies of all the papers in your case (especially the ones you filed to get this Court hearing), your copy of the filed proof of service, and any other papers that supports the information you stated in your Income and Expense declaration, like pay stubs for the last 3 months, tax returns for the previous year, child care receipts. If you are self-employed, bring your Schedule C and Profit & Loss Statement. If you have any witnesses, make sure they come, too.
Step 6: After the hearing:
After the hearing, any orders the judicial officer makes must be formally written down. If the Department of Child Support Services is involved in your case, they will prepare the forms (Minutes and Order After Hearing). If the Department of Child Support Services is not involved in your case, the judicial officer can order you or the other party to prepare the Findings and Order After Hearing (FL-340) and Child Support Information and Order Attachment (FL-342). You may obtain a packet describing how to prepare this form from the Court’s Self-Help Centers.
For important information on Child Support, view the Child Support Case Registry (FL-191).
OTHER THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW:
Amount of Child Support:
The judicial officer will follow the child support laws ("guideline") to decide how much child support should be ordered.
When you ask for child support, the judicial officer can make orders about who pays your child(ren)’s health insurance (this includes vision and dental) and how the parents share the health care costs not paid for by insurance.
When you ask for child support, you can also ask the other parent to share your child(ren)’s child care costs.
Child Support Payments:
Child Support is usually withheld from a parent’s paycheck (garnishment). To prepare an Order/Notice To Withhold Income For Child Support (FL-195), visit a lawyer or the Family Law Facilitator. For more information, refer to the Income Withholding for Support - Instructions (FL-196). Employers cannot fire employees because child support comes out of their paycheck.
If you need extra help, visit the Family Law Facilitator for procedural assistance or talk to a lawyer for legal advice.
How to Raise or Lower Child Support
If you want to ask the judicial officer to change the child support (higher or lower), you have to make your request through a Request for Order. It does not matter how old your case is. The law says you must show that circumstances have changed since the last order.
You may file a Request for Order to request a change to the order.
Amount of Child Support the Court Might Order
The court will use a program to calculate the order for child support. You may run a calculation to estimate the amount of child support ordered. Please keep in mind that your calculation may be different from what the court orders, as the court may consider factors that you have not included in your calculation.
Visit the California Guideline Child Support Payment Calculator. This is a free, online calculator program provided by the California Department of Child Support Services.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is my spouse or domestic partner’s income going to be counted for child support?
The Court usually uses the parents’ incomes only to calculate child support. But, the Court can ask about your spouse or domestic partner’s income for tax or other purposes.
Do I still have to pay child support if I have 50/50 custody?
If you make more money than the other parent, you may still have to pay some child support.
Will the Court consider that I have other children to support?
The Court may take into consideration of other child support orders and other children in your home that you support. The Court usually does not take stepchildren or grandchildren into consideration.
How long do I have to pay child support?
You will pay until the child is 18 years old and he or she graduates from high school. If your 18-year-old child is still a full time high school student and still lives with a parent, you must pay child support until your child graduates or turns 19. For adult disabled children, see a lawyer about the issue of adult child support.