Skip County Header
Alameda County, CA, acgov.org

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

The following are some of the most Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) from our clients. Before you contact our office, please refer to this list of FAQs as frequent phone calls and letters to our office that provide no new information can slow the child support process. Please click on the question to see the answer or click on a department to scroll through all the FAQs for that department. To see additional FAQs, please visit the FAQ page at the California Department of Child Support Services website.

SERVICES PROVIDED BY ALAMEDA COUNTY CHILD SUPPORT SERVICES

  • Establish paternity, child support and medical coverage court orders.
  • Locate the non-custodial parent and his or her assets to enforce the court order.
  • Collect and distribute child, medical, and spousal support payments.
  • Maintain accounts of payments owed and received.
  • Modify court orders when appropriate.
  • Enforce Alameda County Court orders for child, spousal and medical support

SERVICES NOT PROVIDED BY ALAMEDA COUNTY CHILD SUPPORT SERVICES

  • We do not legally represent either the custodial or non-custodial parent's interests. Our attorneys are not your attorneys.
  • By law, we have the final decision as to which enforcement actions will or will not be taken in a case.
  • We cannot assist with visitation and custody issues. (see below).
  • We cannot obtain divorce decrees nor represent either party in a divorce action.
  • We cannot establish or modify spousal support orders.
  • We cannot obtain or enforce restraining orders.

**Please note that matters involving denial of court-ordered visitation and incidents involving parental kidnapping are handled by the Child Abduction Unit. The Child Abduction Unit can be reached at (510) 267-8854.

The following are some of the most Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) from our clients. Before you contact our office, please refer to this list of FAQs as frequent phone calls and letters to our office that provide no new information can slow the child support process. Please click on the question to see the answer or click on a department to scroll through all the FAQs for that department.

If you have new information, such as a change of address, new employment information, Social Security numbers or additional court orders, please contact us:

    by telephone at 1-866-901-3212
    by fax at (925) 468-9297
    by e-mail at Child Support
    or visit our office at 5669 Gibraltar Drive, Pleasanton.

When contacting us, please be sure to provide your seven digit Child Support Services case number, your name and Social Security number and a daytime phone number.

CASE OPENING

LOCATE UNIT

LEGAL

ENFORCEMENT

ACCOUNTS

INTERSTATE

CASE OPENING

Q: Who is eligible for your services?

A: Any custodial party or non-custodial parent is eligible for our services and may open a case in our office. If you are currently receiving benefits from CalWORKs, Department of Social Services (DSS) must refer your case to us and a case will be opened on your behalf.

Back to top.

Q: I am not receiving CalWORKs; how do I apply for your services?

To print an Application for Services or to apply for services online, please visit the California Department of Child Support Services website.

Back to top.

Q: What is the cost of your services?

A: There is no fee for child support services for children who have received or are receiving public assistance through the Title IV-A (TANF) programs. For families who have never received TANF assistance, effective October 1, 2010, California and Federal regulations require that a fee of $25 be assessed IF $500.00 or more is collected between October 1 and September 30 of each year. The fee is assessed in October of the following year. For example, if $500. or more is collected between October 1, 2010 and September 30, 2011 on behalf of a family who has never received TANF assistance, a fee of $25.00 will be deducted from the first payment collected after October 1, 2011. (Federal Deficit Reduction Act of 2005. PL109-171).

Back to top.

Q: What sort of documentation or information will I need to open the case?

A: The most important piece of information is the non-custodial parent's Social Security number as it is key to accessing location and earnings information. Also important is information regarding the non-custodial parent's employment, home and work addresses, date of birth and any prior court order information. If you're not receiving CalWORKs, we also request a copy of your paystub. The more information you supply in your application, the quicker we will be able to proceed.

Back to top.

Q: How long will it take to open a case?

A: A case is opened within twenty days of receipt of a completed application or welfare referral. Case opening letters are mailed to the custodial party and non-custodial parent. The case opening process includes verification of information such as addresses and employment. Please note that providing accurate and complete information on the application will help to move the case forward. Incomplete or erroneous information may result in case opening delays or rejection of the application.

Back to top.

Q: Will you open a case for spousal support only?

A: We enforce spousal support obligations only when child support is also ordered in the court order and there is current child support or arrears still due and owing.

Back to top.

Q: Will you open a case for past due child support if all children are emancipated?

A: No. In order to open a new IV-D case, at least one child must be under age 18 at the time of application

Back to top.

Q: My children and I are receiving Medi-cal benefits, but I did not apply for your services. Why was a case opened?

A: State and Federal laws require recipients of Medi-cal benefits to participate in the child support program to obtain medical insurance. The Medi-cal office must send us a referral (a CW2.1 or CW371 form) to open a case to establish paternity and medical support for the child(ren) receiving the benefits. The Department of Child Support Services is charged with the duties to establish paternity and health insurance coverage by court order (section 452 of the Social Security Act; Title 45 Code of Federal Regulations section 303.31; California Family Code sections 3750-3773 & 17422). If you choose, we will also establish child support for the child(ren). Any child support collected would be sent to you.

Back to top.

Q: My children and I are receiving CalWORKs benefits, but I did not apply for your services. Why was a case opened?

A: State and Federal laws require recipients of CalWORKs benefits to participate in the child support program. The CalWORKs office must send us a referral (a CA2.1 or CA 371 form) to open a case to establish paternity and financial and medical support for the child(ren) receiving the benefits. When you are approved for these benefits, your rights to child support are assigned to the county for the time period you and the child(ren) receive aid. The Department of Child Support Services is charged with the duties to establish paternity, child support and health insurance coverage by court order. The child support collected while your family receives aid is used to reimburse the money paid to your family by the county, pursuant to state and federal laws.

Back to top.

Q: My child(ren) has Healthy Families Health Insurance. Why are you pursuing the non-custodial parent for insurance?

A: Under state and federal law, the Dept of Child Support Services is required to obtain and enforce an order for medical support for children receiving publicly-funded health care, which includes the Healthy Families Program. The non-custodial parent will be required to provide medical insurance coverage IF it is available at reasonable cost through the non-custodial parentís employer. (ref: section 452 of the Social Security Act; 45CFR303.31; California Family Code sections 3750-3773 & 17422)

Back to top.

Q: My child(ren) has Healthy Families Health Insurance. Do I have to use the insurance provided by the non-custodial parent?

A: Yes. Once the Dept of Child Support Services is notified by the employer that the child(ren) are covered by the non-custodial parentís insurance, that information is entered into the statewide child support system and sent electronically to the Department of Health & Human Services. The private insurance will become the primary provider with Medi-cal becoming the secondary coverage. For information on how this works, please contact your Medi-cal worker.

Back to top.

Q: The non-custodial parent and I already have an agreement regarding child support. Why are you pursuing him/her?

A: This office must legally establish paternity, child support and health insurance coverage in a court order for children receiving welfare benefits. An agreement, even a notarized agreement, is not an enforceable court order, which is what we are required to pursue.

Back to top.

Q: If I discontinue from welfare, will the case be closed?

A: We will continue to collect child support on your behalf unless you request in writing that we close the non-welfare portion of your case. We will continue to pursue for the child support owed for the time period the children received CalWORKs benefits. If the non-custodial party is unlocated, aid is discontinued and no legal action is pending, we will mail you a non-welfare assistance letter. If you do not respond to this letter, and the above criteria exist, we will review the case for closure. If the case is closed for this reason, we will still continue to access our locate sources. If we find an address or assets for the non-custodial party, we will review the case to re-open it to pursue collection of the child support arrears owed to the county for the time period aid was paid.

Back to top.

Q: How long before I start receiving child support payments?

A: It varies from case to case depending on the information provided and the cooperation received from the non-custodial parent.

Back to top.

Q: My child is 17; can I still open a case?

A: Yes. We will open a case and obtain and enforce an order for current child support until a child emancipates. Under California state law, a child emancipates at age 18, unless the child is attending high school. If the child is in high school, child support will continue until their 19th birthday OR until the child graduates, whichever comes first. If the case is already open and an order established, we will continue to pursue collection of any past due child support (aka arrears).

LOCATE

Q: How do you locate the non-custodial parent?

A: This office has several resources to locate the non-custodial parent. The following are a sample of the locate sources used to find addresses and employment information: Employment Development Department (EDD), IRS/FTB, credit reporting agencies, Department of Motor Vehicles, local, state, and federal criminal records, the California and Federal Parent Locator Service (CPLS and FPLS).

Back to top.

Q: What locate information are you looking for?

A: We are looking for the non-custodial parent's home and work addresses, employer, date of birth and Social Security number, assets and if he or she has other children to legally support.

Back to top.

LEGAL

If you have questions regarding notice of a pending legal action or about a court date in your case, please call our Public Service Center at 1-866-901-3212.

If you wish assistance in completing the forms or further legal assistance, please contact the Family Law Facilitator at (510) 272-1393. For more information about the Family Law Facilitator service in California, please visit www.courtinfo.ca.gov.

Back to top.

Q: I just received a Summons and Complaint; what does this mean?

A: State and Federal laws require us to legally establish paternity, child support and health insurance coverage for the child(ren) listed on the Complaint. You must respond by filing an Answer with the Alameda County Clerk's office in the Superior Court House, within thirty days of service (or forty days of the date if someone you know was served on your behalf). If you do not file an Answer, a Default Judgment will be filed based upon the Proposed Judgment included in your Summons and Complaint packet.

Back to top.

Q: I do not think I am the father of the child(ren) listed on the Complaint. What do I do?

A: If you do not believe you are the father of this child, you must file an Answer (included in the packet) with the Alameda County Clerk's office in the Superior Court House. Once your Answer is filed, a court date and genetic test appointments will be scheduled to determine if you are the father. Failure to file an Answer may result in a Default Judgment being entered against you.

Back to top.

Q: I disagree with the child support amount, or one of the terms, set in the Proposed Judgment. What do I do?

A: You must file an Answer with the Alameda County Clerk's office . A court date will then be set and the issues resolved there. Failure to file an Answer may result in a Default Judgment being entered against you.

Back to top.

Q: How did you arrive at this child support amount?

A: The child support amount is based upon the information you provide to us prior to the filing of the Summons and Complaint, and the information in the case. This includes the information we receive from the Employment Development Department regarding your work history and the amount of child support for other children you may have for whom you pay child support. The amount of child support is determined using specific guidelines established by California law. The calculation, attached to the Proposed Judgment received with the Summons and Complaint, details the income and deductions used. Click here for more details on how child support is calculated. It is therefore extremely important to inform us of your income information.

Back to top.

Q: The non-custodial parent of my 13-year-old child and I never went to court and I've never received any child support. Will the court order the father to pay for those years he didn't support his child?

A: No. In California, child support can only be established back to the date of the filing of the Summons and Complaint.

Back to top.

Q: How do I obtain copies of my court order for child support?

A: To obtain a copy of a court order you should contact the Superior Court Clerk's office in the county in which the order was filed. You will need to provide the clerk's office with as much information as possible, including the names of both parties, the court order number, and the date the order was filed. This information is at the top of the first page of the court order. Fees for copies of court orders vary by county. For orders filed in Alameda County, please go to the Alameda County Superior Court website (http://www.alameda.courts.ca.gov/courts/) and select "fee schedule."

Back to top.

ENFORCEMENT

Q: A child support order exists and an account is open, so where is my money?

A: A payment will be mailed within two days from the day the State Disbursement Unit receives the payment. To collect a child support obligation, we need to know where the non-custodial parent is working. We will then serve a Wage Assignment so that the obligation is automatically deducted from his or her wages. If you know where the non-custodial parent is working, please inform us via mail, email or phone, and we will serve a Wage Assignment. You may call 1-866-901-3212 to see if we received a payment on your case. Information is available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

Back to top.

Q: How do I get my child support modified?

A:We will review your court order for modification if you have a case open in our office and there is a change in circumstances that will last more than three months. To start the review process, please telephone, e-mail, fax, or drop-by our office to submit your request. Please be aware that this review may result in either an increase or decrease in your support amount depending on the circumstances of both parents. ONCE YOU HAVE RETURNED THE APPLICATION FOR REVIEW THE PROCESS WILL NOT BE TERMINATED REGARDLESS OF WHETHER YOUR ORDER WILL BE INCREASED OR DECREASED. In other words, if the review shows that the child support obligation should be higher, we will proceed with the modification to increase the child support obligation. If the review shows that the amount should decrease, we will proceed with the modification to lower the monthly obligation. You may also seek a modification on your own behalf pursuant to California Family Code Section 3651. Forms may be obtained from the Clerk of the Superior Court.

Back to top.

Q: If I lose my job or become disabled, do I still have to pay child support? What if I go to jail?

A: Yes. Under California law, parents are required to pay the court-ordered child support on time & in full. If you become disabled, lose your job, or go to jail, contact our office as soon as possible to provide information on your change in circumstances and to avoid or minimize any adverse actions that might be taken. Our office will review the child support order to see if a change is in order. You also have the right to file a request for modification directly with the Court that issued the order. If the order is not changed, the unpaid child support plus interest will still be owed.
In some instances, a non-custodial parent may qualify for a Compromise of Arrears under California law. If the parent qualifies, the Compromise of Arrears program provides a means for a parent to pay less than the total child support debt owed to the State if the parent did not pay the court ordered child support due while their child received public assistance. For more information please visit the Compromise of Arrears Program page at the California Department of Child Support Services website.

Back to top.

Q: My bank account is frozen; how do I get it reinstated?

A: Please contact our Call Center at 866-901-3212 to discuss your situation with a representative.

Back to top.

Q: I just got a notice that my driving or professional license will be revoked. How do I stop the process?

A: Prior to contacting us, please verify that Alameda County placed the hold on your license. This information is noted on the letter from the licensing agency. If you did not receive written notification that your license is or will be suspended, please contact the agency who issued your license to confirm your license is or will be suspended, and verify which County has placed the hold. If you confirm that Alameda County has placed a hold on your license, please complete the SLMS Request for Review form included with your notice and submit it to our office. Include your current address, phone number and employer or source of income. You may also call 866-901-3212 and follow the prompts. We will review your case and contact you to discuss release options. Once we submit a release to a licensing agency, it may take up to 14 days for the licensing agency to remove the hold. Additional fees may be owed directly to the licensing agency.

Back to top.

Q: I just discontinued from the CalWORKs, how do I get child support?

A: The local CalWORKs office will notify us when aid is discontinued. You may also contact our office.

Back to top.

Q: I know a payment was recently mailed out to me, but I haven't received it yet. What is the procedure for tracking the checks?

If you have not received the check fifteen (15) days after it was issued, contact our office and we will send you the appropriate forms to complete. When we receive the completed forms back from you, a "Stop Payment" will be put on the check and the payment will be reissued.

Back to top.

Q: I am the custodial party. How do I close my case?

A: Under California law, the person who requested services from Child Support Services can request the case be closed. You must notify us in writing. We will then close your portion of the case. If the child(ren) ever received CalWORKs benefits, we will continue to collect the child support owed only for that time period. If the child(ren) never received CalWORKs benefits, we will close the case and send you and the non-custodial parent a closing letter. When the case is closed, the custodial party & the non-custodial parent will no longer receive services from Child Support Services; however, the child support court order remains in full effect and any court-ordered child support obligation continues.
(Title 22 CCR Section 118203(a)

Back to top.

ACCOUNTS

Q: My child support payment is not withheld from my paycheck. How can I pay my child support?

A: You have three options:

  1. Pay by check: The check should be made payable to California State Disbursement Unit (SDU) and mailed to:
    California State Disbursement Unit
    PO Box 989067
    West Sacramento CA 95798-9067
    Payment Coupon
  2. Make an automated withdrawal from your checking or savings account at www.casdu.com or by telephone at 1-866-901-3212. You can set up a single payment or recurring payments.
  3. Make a credit card payment (MasterCard and Visa only) on-line at www.casdu.com or by telephone at 1-866-901-3212. You can set up a single payment or recurring payments. There are no fees for credit card payments.

Payments are credited on the date the payment is received at the SDU.

Back to top.

Q: How do I make a payment using the State Disbursement Unit website (www.casdu.com) or by telephone (1-866-901-3212)?

A: To make a payment through the State Disbursement Unit website or by telephone, you must have a Personal Identification Number (PIN) and your California Child Support Automation System (CCSAS) Participant ID.

To obtain you PIN, register on-line at www.casdu.com or by telephone at 1-866-901-3212. When you register, the PIN is generated automatically and will be mailed to the address on file with CCSAS.

Your CCSAS Participant ID is located on your billing statement and other correspondence received from Child Support Services. If you do not know your CCSAS Participant ID, please contact us or call the SDU at 1-866-901-3212.

Back to top.

Q: How is a payment distributed?

A: Effective January 1, 2009, all payments except federal tax intercepts are applied first to any current month obligation, then to arrears, interest, and finally any fees. This payment distribution hierarchy is based on the Federal Deficit Reduction Act of 2005. If a non-custodial parent has more than one child support case, any payment received will be divided among all the cases. If the child(ren) is receiving CalWORKs benefits (CalWORKs, KinGap, Foster Care), the first $50.00 of current child support received each month is paid to the custodial party as "disregard."

Back to top.

Q: How long before you stop and re-issue a check?

A: If you have not received the check fifteen (15) days after it was issued, contact our office and we will send you the appropriate forms to complete, When we receive the completed forms back from you, a "Stop Payment" will be put on the check and the payment will be reissued.

Back to top.

Q: How do I obtain current payment information?

A: You may obtain current payment information by telephone by calling toll free 1-866-901-3212. Current payment information is available on our automated response system 24 hours a day. Please note that you will need your Social Security Number or Participant ID and PIN (personal identification number) to obtain information.

You can also see current payment information through the internet at the Customer Connect website . Please note that you will need your Participant ID or Social Security Number and PIN to access payment information at the Customer Connect Website.

Back to top.

Q: How do I obtain a payment history?

A payment history may be obtained through the internet at the Customer Connect website at any time. Please note that you will need your CCSAS Participant ID and PIN (personal identification number) to obtain information.

You may also request a complete payment history by contacting our office. To make the request by telephone, call toll free 1-866-901-3212 Monday through Friday between 8:00 AM and 4:45 pm. You may also request a payment history by sending a fax request to (925) 468-9297, by e-mailing us or by writing us at:

Alameda County Dept of Child Support Services
5669 Gibraltar Drive
Pleasanton CA 94588-8547

When contacting us, please include your name, your thirteen-digit Child Support case number, your Participant ID, and a daytime phone number.

Back to top.

Q: Why is interest added to the amount I owe?

A: Under the California Code of Civil Procedure Sections 685.010-685.110, interest accrues on unpaid money judgments. In 1992 local child support offices were mandated to calculate interest on child support, spousal support and medical support arrears in accordance with this state law. Pursuant to state law, interest is calculated retroactively to the first delinquent or missed payment and accrues from that time forward. The interest rate is currently 10% per year.

Back to top.

INTERSTATE

Q: Can you collect child support obligations when the non-custodial parent lives in another state?

A: Yes. We can request the other state obtain and enforce a child support order, or depending on jurisdiction, we can obtain and enforce the order across state lines.

Back to top.

Q: Can you collect child support obligations when the non-custodial parent lives in another country?

A: If the United States has a reciprocal agreement with the other country, we will contact them to obtain and/or enforce a child support order. If not, we have no jurisdiction to enforce and will have to review the case for closure.

Back to top.

Q: How long will it take for my case to proceed?

A: Once we have determined that an out-of-state referral is necessary, a request is sent from our office to the other jurisdiction. The other jurisdiction has ninety days from the date we sent the referral to open the case. The only contact we can make with the other jurisdiction during that time period is to request an Acknowledgment letter after thirty to forty-five days. After ninety days, we can send requests to the other jurisdiction asking for the status of your case.

Back to top.

Q: What is Registration of Foreign Order and why is it necessary?

A: We must register another county's or state's order to make it an enforceable Alameda County order; the legal action to do this is called "Registration of Foreign Order." With an enforceable order, we can serve Wage Assignments and Health Insurance Coverage Assignments, submit balances for IRS, FTB, Unemployment and Disability intercepts, and many other enforcement tools to enforce the order. Without the registration process, we have no legal means of enforcing the order.

Back to top.

Q: Why does my order have to be registered out of state?

A: Once we have exhausted all enforcement measures available to use in California, we will request the other state enforce an order on our/your behalf. In order to enforce our California order in another state, the other state must first "register" the California order to make it an enforceable order in their state. This allows them to use various enforcement tools such as service of Wage Assignments and Health Insurance Coverage Assignment, liens on assets and interception of Unemployment or Disability benefits.

Back to top.

Q: Why can't Alameda County enforce my child support order?

A: Prior to requesting the assistance of another state, we review every case to determine if California has jurisdiction to either establish or enforce a child support order. If we determine that California has no jurisdiction, we send a request to the other state asking them to establish and/or enforce a child support order as we do not have the jurisdiction legally necessary to establish and/or enforce a child support order in the case. Jurisdiction is determined pursuant to Federal and State laws and regulations.

Back to top.

HOW CHILD SUPPORT IS CALCULATED

In this section, a simplified version of the child support guideline is provided to give parents a better understanding of how child support is calculated. However, just as the circumstances of each case are different, so are the amounts of child support ordered by the court. For specific information about the child support guidelines and formula, please see the Statewide Uniform Guidelines for Determining Child Support listed in the California Family Code (Sections 4050-4076) or visit the Calculate Child Support Resource page at the Department of Child Support Services website

CALCULATING CHILD SUPPORT

Both parents are responsible for financially supporting their child(ren). The custodial parent directly supports his or her child(ren) by providing housing, buying groceries, paying for school, clothing, health care, day care and school activities, and covering other expenses. The non-custodial parent pays child support to help cover these costs.

The amount of child support to be paid by the non-custodial parent is based on his or her net income and visitation with the child(ren) for whom we are seeking support. Net income is calculated by taking the gross income and subtracting health insurance coverage costs, exceptional heath care expenses, union dues, mandatory work-related expenses, and other biological children he or she is required to support that either live in his or her home or for whom he or she must pay child support. Again, each case and situation is unique and therefore the amount of child support is unique. Income is money from sources including: self-employment, job wages, savings accounts, unemployment money, disability and worker's compensation, and Social Security. In some circumstances, the judge may consider the amount of money she or he thinks the parent could be making, instead of the parent's actual income. Once each parent's net income is calculated, the child support guideline is used to determine the percentage of net income to be paid as child support.

Net income is calculated by taking a person's total income and subtracting certain expenses, such as federal and state income taxes, health insurance premiums, state disability insurance, and Social Security taxes. The judge may also consider other expenses, including the cost of raising a child from another relationship, exceptional health care expenses, uninsured catastrophic losses, mandatory union dues, or retirement contributions.

Once each parent's net income is calculated, the child support guideline is used to determine the percentage of net income to be paid as child support.

The example below is a general guideline for calculating child support. The Child Support Services will calculate the amount of child support in your case, although the final amount will be determined by a judge.

For more information on how child support is calculated in California, please visit the California Department of Child Support Services at http://www.childsup.cahwnet.gov

Number of children in household% of net income
125%
240%
350%

For example, a custodial parent (in this case the mother) and noncustodial parent (the father) have one child. If the father's net income is $2,000 per month, his share of child support would be $500 a month (25% of 2,000). If the mother's net income is $1,500 per month, her share of child support would be $375 a month (25% of 1,500). These percentages are then adjusted according to the amount of time each parent spends with the child.

Child support covers only ordinary living expenses for a child. It does not include things like child care, medical bills not paid by insurance, travel expenses for visitation with the other parent, or a child's special education needs. Parents must specifically ask the judge to include these additional expenses in the child support order.

The law requires the judge to order one or both parents to provide health insurance coverage for their child(ren), including vision and dental care coverage, if it is available through a job or group insurance plan at no or reasonable cost to the parent.

Back to top.


Alameda County sealAlameda County © 2016 • All Rights Reserved • Legal / DisclaimersAccessibility