Department of Child Support Services
Frequently Asked Questions & Answers
QUESTION: If I have a case with the DCSS, is it ok for the non-custodial parent to make child support payments directly to me?
ANSWER: If you have a case with this office, all payments are to be made to the DCSS to ensure proper credit. Please turn any direct payments received in to this office for processing.
QUESTION: What about custody and visitation?
ANSWER: This office does not have authority to handle issues relating to custody and visitation. You must proceed privately regarding these issues. However, any changes to the present court order should be reported to the DCSS for appropriate account adjustments. The Court Clerk may not notify this office of cases heard.
QUESTION: What if my check is lost or stolen?
ANSWER: Contact the accounting department immediately if your check has been lost or stolen. If you find the check you have reported lost or stolen, DO NOT CASH IT and contact the accounting department for further instructions.
QUESTION: The non-custodial parent in my case tells me child support is being withheld from his/her wages. When can I expect payment?
ANSWER: Deductions from wages are usually made when the payroll period ends. The employer has 7 days from the pay date to get the payment into the mail. This means that if the non-custodial parent gets paid weekly, deductions will probably be prorated over 52 weeks. For instance, $154.00 per month child support X 12 months = $1,848.00 per year, divided by 52 weeks = $35.54 per week deduction.
There is also the possibility deductions can be made bi-weekly, semi monthly, or monthly, depending upon the particular employer's pay schedule. Payments will then be received accordingly. It is not advisable for the custodial parent to contact the employer regarding payments and it is the policy of this office not to contact employers regarding current month child support deductions. The State Disbursement Unit (SDU) issues the child support check within 48 hours of receipt.
QUESTION: If I go off welfare, and if the non-custodial parent is paying child support, when can I expect to start receiving the child support payments?
ANSWER: Discontinuances from AFDC are effective the last day of the month in which the grant was paid. When this office receives notification from the Department of Social Services that your AFDC grant has been discontinued, we will process adjustments to reflect a non-welfare collection status of your child support. You will be notified by mail that this office will continue to collect until otherwise notified by you in writing. You will be entitled to non-welfare child support collected from the date of discontinuance forward. For instance, if you received the final cash grant payment on 1/1/06, discontinuance would be effective 1/31/06, and you would be entitled to receive any current child support payment collected on or after 2/1/06.
QUESTION: What is a disregard?
ANSWER: When a custodial parent is receiving aid, he/she is entitled to the first $50.00 of child support collected in any given month. There is only one disregard paid to any individual custodial parent, regardless of number of cases or children.
QUESTION: When will I receive my disregard?
ANSWER: The first child support collected in a given month up to $50.00, will be issued to the custodial parent within 48 hours of receipt by the SDU.
QUESTION: What conditions must exist for a child support order to be reviewed for adjustment by DCSS, upon request of either parent?
ANSWER: A child support order may be reviewed for adjustment if the following conditions exist:
- A DCSS case exists
- The Court order is subject to local jurisdiction
- We know the whereabouts of the non-custodial parent/custodial parent
- There has been no review for the past 12 months
- It has been at least 36 months since the order was issued or modified, or
- There has been a significant change of circumstances, such as:
- involuntary loss of employment
- large reduction in income
- large increase in income
- change in physical custody of the children
- subsequent children
(written proof of any change of circumstances is required)
QUESTION: When does a review result in a change in the amount of support?
ANSWER: If application of guidelines indicate that the amount of support ordered should be increased or decreased by at least $50.00 or 30% per month (whichever is greater), a change in support will be indicated. (Once a request for review is received, the modification process will continue regardless of the outcome. Your child support may be increased or decreased and the outcome is largely dependent upon the incomes of the two parties involved.)
QUESTION: How long will a Modification Review take?
ANSWER: Once all of the paperwork is returned, the modification of the child support order will take up to 180 days to be completed, subject to Court discretion.
QUESTION: If there is an order for an increase in child support (or decrease), can it be made retroactive to the date modification review was requested?
ANSWER: Any change will usually be effective the month of the filing of the action with the Court or the first of the following month.
QUESTION: What options do I have if I cannot meet DCSS criteria for a Modification Review?
ANSWER: The option of filing your own Motion with the courts is available to you at all times. You can contact Lassen County Courts at (530) 251-8406 for information regarding The Family Law Facilitator.
QUESTION: What are 'Intercept Programs'?
ANSWER: Intercept programs provide for collection of child support and/or child support arrears from State and Federal sources, such as unemployment insurance benefits, disability insurance benefits, Internal Revenue Service or Franchise Tax Board tax refunds, California State Lottery and State Board of Equalization.
QUESTION: How does this work?
ANSWER: A. Unemployment or Disability Intercepts:
These programs allow for a 25% intercept of a non-custodial parent's benefits to be applied to child/spousal support, or to court ordered child support arrears. There must be an existing arrears balance of at least $150.00 and the account must have been open at least two months.
B. IRS/FTB Tax Refund Intercept:
When there are arrears owed for child support, tax refunds are intercepted and sent to the SDU to be applied to child support.
1. Internal Revenue Service:
A non-custodial parent will be submitted for IRS tax intercept, IF:
- An arrears balance of $150.00 or more is owed to DCSS.
- An arrears balance of $500.00 or more is owed to the custodial parent. Children must be living in the custodial parent's home, and must be under 19 years of age on December 31 of the year of intercept.
2. FRANCHISE TAX BOARD Intercept:
An arrears balance will be submitted IF it is $100.00 or more.
If there is an arrears balance showing on the account, a non-custodial parent will be submitted for intercept regardless of whether he or she is making payments.
QUESTION: What right does the SDU have to intercept monies?
ANSWER: The various methods of intercept are authorized in most California county court orders and/or by law. Please review your court order for clarification.
QUESTION: If I am making payments, will this prevent intercepts of my tax refunds?
ANSWER: No. If you owe an arrears balance, accounts are submitted for tax refund intercepts whether or not you are making payments.
QUESTION: What is the Child Support Full Collections Program.
ANSWER: Seriously delinquent cases may be submitted to the Child Support Full Collections Program for collection through the use of administrative levies.
QUESTION: How long do you have to complete the Income and Expense Declaration?
ANSWER: You have 30 days from the date you receive the packet unless otherwise indicated.
QUESTION: Why is my billing statement missing recent payments or have an incorrect balance?
ANSWER: The monthly billing statements are for the previous months transactions. For example the June statement reflects all transactions made during the month of May.
QUESTION: What role does DCSS have in enforcing Health Insurance?
ANSWER: DCSS will enforce the Health Insurance provision by obtaining the coverage through a non-custodial parent’s employer, if dependent coverage is available.
QUESTION: Does DCSS represent either parent?
ANSWER: The DCSS does not represent either parent or the child (ren) and its attorneys are not your attorneys. Because you are not a legal client, the information you provide is not confidential under the attorney/ client privilege. Parents have the right to seek legal advice from a private attorney or legal aid group at their own expense, or the county family law facilitator.
QUESTION: You have been notified that your driver’s license has been or is going to be suspended? How do you get this resolved?
ANSWER: You should contact the county who has submitted you for the suspension. The information you will need to provide is a copy of either your DMV printout or the Request for Review which can be found in the packet sent to you by DMV. Release is determined based on specific criteria. If DCSS determines that a release is in order, the release will be sent to the License Release Unit (LRU) then to DMV to process the release. The process can take up to 10 working days to complete.
QUESTION: Who is the local Family Law Facilitator and how can they be reached?
ANSWER: They can assist you in completing paperwork for Family Law matters including Paternity, Child Support, Spousal Support and Medical Support. To contact the Family Law Facilitator for Lassen County, contact Lassen County Courts at (530) 251-8406.
QUESTION: Is there a cost or fee to open a case?
ANSWER: The DCSS does not charge any fees or commission to open a case, enforce or collect child support, at this time.
HOW TO APPLY
Frequently Asked Questions & Answers
QUESTION: How do I open a child support case?
ANSWER: A. If you are on Public Assistance:
When you apply for Cal-Works, Medical, or if a child receives Foster Care benefits, you agree to assign to the DCSS, or the State of California, your right to receive current and past due child support. This office will open a case when we receive a referral from Cal-Works. If you are receiving Medi-Cal only, a referral from the Cal-Works Agency will be sent to our office, and we will establish paternity and/or medical support.
B. If you are not on Public Assistance:
You may ask for an Application packet in the county where you reside. When you have completed the forms contained in the packet, and assembled other documents and information requested, you may come into this office for an interview preliminary to opening your case. Please call (530) 251-2630 to schedule an appointment with a Child Support Specialist when you are ready for an interview.
QUESTION: What kind of information will I be required to provide to open a case?
ANSWER: The DCSS will ask that you provide as much information about the non-custodial parent as possible. The more accurate the information you give us, the sooner you will see results. Some items of information about the non-custodial parent that you should try to provide are:
- Full legal name and address
- Date of birth
- Current physical description
- Social Security number: May be found on old pay stubs, income tax returns, credit or loan applications, bank accounts, insurance or health records, military/union records. If you do not have these documents, you may be able to obtain copies by writing to the appropriate agency.
- Date of marriage: If none, and if non-custodial parent lives in another state, did he/she ever live in California?
- Child Support Court Order: if one exists, or any other court order which provides for child support payments, such as a divorce order.
- Name and address of current or most recent employee.
- Information pertaining to income and assets: Pay stubs, tax returns, bank statements, investment or property documents may help with this information.
QUESTION: Is it okay for a non-custodial parent to pay other bills for the custodial parent instead of child support?
To obtain a non-aid application for services contact us by phone, fax, mail or e-mail.