Superior Court of California, San Bernardino County

Superior Court of California, San Bernardino County

Child Support

Forms and Form Kits:

General Information:

Our Resource Center can assist self-represented litigants with requesting, modifying, and terminating child support through their family law cases such as divorces, legal separations, and paternity cases. Although we can explain court procedures and review forms, we cannot provide legal advice, and do not have the ability to complete forms for you. You can visit our Resource Center in person, or contact by phone or email for assistance. For general information on child support basics, you can click on each topic below:

What is child support?

When is child support ordered?

How is child support calculated?

Can a child support order be changed?

How do I enforce a child support order?

What if a parent does not pay court-ordered child support?

How do I respond to a government-established child support case?

If you have a government established child support case, such as a Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) case or from another local child support agency, you can visit our Family Law Facilitator for assistance with your child support matter. For information about our Family Law Facilitator, including the services they can provide, and what information to bring with you, please click on Family Law Facilitator below:

Family Law Facilitator

What is child support?

Child support is the amount of money that a court orders a parent or both parents to pay every month to help pay for the support of the child (or children) and the child’s living expenses. Child support payments are usually made until children turn 18 (or 19 if they are still in high school full time, living at home, and cannot support themselves).

When is child support ordered?

When a married couple has a child, paternity (legal fatherhood) does not need to be established, since the law automatically presumes the husband is the child's legal father. When an unmarried woman has a child, paternity must be established before a court will order child or medical support, or determine custody or visitation rights.

How is child support calculated?

In making an order for support, the court will determine each parent’s ability to provide for the child’s needs based upon their financial circumstances. The court will use a child support guideline formula to determine which parent will pay support and how much that support will be. The guideline calculation depends on many factors including:
  • How much income each parent receives;
  • How many children these parents have together;
  • How much time each parent spends with their children (time-share);
  • The actual tax filing status of each parent;
  • Support of children from other relationships;
  • Health insurance expenses

To estimate how much child support the judge may order in your case, you can use the California Guideline Child Support Calculator.

Can a child support order be changed?

Yes. After a judge makes a child support order, one or both parents (or a local child support agency if they are involved in that case) may want to change the order. The asking party must show that there was a “change of circumstance” since the last child support order was made. Some reasons why a child support order might need to be changed are:
  • Income of one or both parties has changed
  • One parent has lost their job
  • One parent has been incarcerated
  • One parent had another child from another relationship
  • There have been significant changes in the child custody and visitation (parenting plan)

If the parents (and the local child support agency if involved in the case) can reach an agreement on a new amount of child support, they can complete a stipulation and give it to the judge for signature and have it become a new order.

If you and the other parent do not agree to a modification of child support, you may visit our Resource Center or Family Law Facilitator to find out what your options are.

Once you ask the court to modify the amount of child support, the court will make its decision based on the current circumstances (mainly both parents' income and time-share with the child). If you are not sure whether the change in circumstances will result in an increase or a decrease, you can visit our Resource Center or Family Law Facilitator to help calculate the estimates for you before you file your documents.

How do I enforce a child support order?

In every case ordering child support, the court will order that a wage assignment (garnishment) be issued and served. The wage assignment tells the payor’s employer to take the support payments out of their wages.

When the Department of Child Support Services is NOT involved, both parents can agree that payments can be made in some other way. In this situation, the parents work out how child support will be paid and handle it between them.

If DCSS is involved, they will most likely want an active wage assignment in place with the employer. They will also want all child support payments to go through the State Disbursement Unit.

If you have a child support order, you can contact DCSS and ask them to get involved in the case. They will collect the payments and send them to you. Their services are free of charge.

You may contact the Department of Child Support Services for more information.

How do I respond to a government-established child support case?

When you have been served with a governmental complaint, you have thirty days to file an Answer. If you do not file an Answer, then thirty days from the date you were served with the Summons and Complaint, the County Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) could submit papers to enter a default against you. What that means to you –- whatever DCSS asked for in their Proposed Judgment will become a court order.

What if I don’t know if I’m the dad?

If you have any doubts about whether or not you are the father of the child/ren, NOW is the time to request paternity (DNA) testing. You can easily ask for the DNA test by answering “NO” to the question about whether you are the parent. Then the Department of Child Support will contact you with information regarding how to get the DNA test.

Warning! You don’t have much time to find out if you are the dad. In some cases, if you haven’t found out by the time the child is 2 years old, you may not be able to do anything about it later. If you have questions, you can contact our Family Law Facilitator for more information.

What if the papers aren’t asking about the parentage?

In some instances, the Summons & Complaint from the Department of Child Support simply asks for a certain amount of child support or for health insurance coverage. If the Complaint doesn’t ask if you are the father, then you cannot get the DNA test without a special court order.

What if a parent does not pay court-ordered child support?

If you fall behind in child support payments, you must pay interest on the balance due on top of the amount you owe. Interest charges are added by law, and the judge cannot stop them.

If you owe arrears (past-due child support), it is possible that your court order or wage assignment (garnishment) if there is one, will include an amount in addition to the monthly child support. This additional amount goes to paying off your arrears.

If you are the parent owed support and the other parent is not paying, you can ask the court to take various steps to help you get support. You may visit one of our Resource Centers or our Family Law Facilitator for assistance with this issue.

Family Law Facilitator

Our Family Law Facilitator is an attorney with experience in family law matters who works for the Superior Court and provides free assistance to unrepresented litigants regarding Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) cases, child support calculations, and motions. The Family Law Facilitator is not your lawyer, but a neutral person who does not represent any party. The Family Law Facilitator is not your attorney and no attorney-client relationship is created as a result of any information or services provided to the party by the Family Law Facilitator and/or staff. This means that communications are not privileged and that services may be provided to both parties to a case.

Please Note: The Facilitator is not affiliated with the Department of Child Support Services. The Facilitator is an employee of the Court. You should consult with your own attorney if you want personalized legal advice or strategy, have a confidential conversation, or be represented by an attorney in court.

The Family Law Facilitator can assist you with:
  • Running a preliminary child support calculation
  • Explanation of the child support process, including filing an answer or response to child support documents
  • Assistance with preparation and service of child-support related pleadings
  • Explanation of court processes and options, including settlement opportunities
  • Answer questions about the preparation for court hearings
  • Explanation of the meet-and-confer process to be done with the Department of Child Support Services
  • Assistance with identifying the relevant facts to be presented to the court and/or Department of Child Support Services regarding issues on calendar
  • Assistance for the self-represented litigant to be prepared to present his or her case before the judicial officer, if there is no agreement made during prehearing discussions
  • Assistance with obtaining a written and signed order following the hearing
  • Provide any needed community referrals
If you have an existing case, bring copies of the following documents:
  • Copy of the Summons and Complaint
  • Copy of the current Judgment or Order
  • Two months of current pay stubs or proof of income
    • If self-employed, Schedule “C” from tax returns and a current profit and loss statement.
    • Disability or unemployment information, if applicable
  • If you are disputing child support arrearages, bring copies of the following documents:
    • Complete audit or accounting of child support ordered and paid and proof of payment.
  • If requesting credit for time that the child(ren) were living with you while you were being charged child support (Trainotti Credits), bring copies of the following documents:
    • Proof that the child(ren) were living with you (such as school records, medical records, leases or rental agreements that name the children etc.)
  • If a parent is owed child support, and they would like to waive their right to receive child support, bring the following documents:
    • Current statement from the Department of Child Support Services of the principal and interest of child support owed to the parent waiving the child support.
  • If you are disputing paternity:
    • Copy of Voluntary Declaration of Paternity if signed and available
    • Copy of Judgment
    • Copy of the Proof of Service (if you were not served)
You can find your documents at the following locations:
  • Your own records or records of income from your employer.
  • Court records including judgments and orders and proofs of services may be obtained from the clerks’ office in the courthouse where your case was decided.
  • Audits or accounts of child support owed and paid may be obtained from the Department of Child Support Services.