California Child Support Laws, Golden State
California Child Support Laws
Both parents have a legal duty to provide financial support for their children. In California, as in most other states, the court may order either or both parents to make regular child support payments that cover a child’s living and medical expenses.
California’s child support agency is administered through the Department of Child Support Services. This agency can help both custodial and non-custodial parents with a number of child support related services such as establishing paternity, locating a non-custodial parent, establishing, enforcing, and modifying child support orders, and collecting and distributing child support payments.
Establishing Paternity for California child support laws
Your child’s paternity must be established before child support can be ordered. Establishing legal paternity gives your child many rights, including child support, access to medical records, government benefits and more.
There are several methods you can use to establish the paternity of your child. The simplest method for establishing paternity is to complete a Paternity Opportunity Program Declaration. This form must be filled out and signed by both parents to establish paternity without going to court. If necessary, California’s child support agency can assist you in establishing the paternity of your child by helping you get free or low-cost genetic testing when the child’s father is in question.
If the child’s father lives in another state, California’s child support agency can work with the other state’s agencies to obtain genetic testing, establish a child support order and enforce child support payments.
Paying California child support laws
Once a child support order has been established, the non-custodial parent will generally be required to continue making payments until the minor child emancipates or until otherwise noted in the child support order. Under California law, a parent’s obligation to pay support continues until the child becomes eighteen years of age. Under certain circumstances (if the child is unmarried and attending high school full time), the current support obligation may continue until the child is nineteen.
Modifying California child support laws
In order to modify a child support order, you must contact your local child support agency to request a modification of the child support order and then cooperate in the review process by providing the requested financial and visitation information.
You can also request the modification of a child support order by filing a motion directly with the court. Contact the Family Law Facilitator’s office in your county of residence for help in filing the motion. See below for a complete list of Family Law Facilitators.