Merced County California

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Child Support Process
Applying for Enforcement Services
Anyone who has a child support and/or medical support order (or wants to establish one), can apply for child support enforcement services by completing an application form. Parents who receive public assistance will automatically be referred to the Department Child Support Services (DCSS) by the Welfare Department.

After the application form is signed, the child support process begins.

DCSS Services
The DCSS will take the following steps to provide services to collect support from the non-custodial parent:
  1. Open a child support case - Either a parent or guardian may open a child support case by completing an application. The more information the custodial party gives about the case, the better service the DCSS can provide. Services are available to all persons whether or not they are receiving public assistance.
  2. Locate the parent - To get a support order, establish paternity, or enforce a support order, the DCSS must know where the non-custodial parent lives and/or works. By providing the DCSS with as much information as possible, the custodial party can help locate the non-custodial parent and speed up the child support process. The DCSS will make every effort to locate the non-custodial parent.
  3. Establish paternity - If paternity has not yet been established, the DCSS will take the necessary steps to establish paternity, which must be established before child and medical support can be ordered by the court.
  4. Establish a support order - If a court order for child support doesn't already exist and the non-custodial parent is located, one will be sought by the DCSS. An order will be established by the court based on both parents' ability to pay support, the amount of time the child spends with each parent, and the financial needs of the child. The DCSS will also request that the court require the non-custodial parent to provide health insurance for the child. The court will order the non-custodial parent to provide health insurance if it is available at a reasonable cost.
  5. Modification of an order - A modification of an order is a review that is done when the custodial or non-custodial parent requests that the current support order be changed. The modification can be to change the amount of support ordered to be paid or to provide health insurance for the child.
  6. Enforcement of support orders - The DCSS will take steps to enforce court orders for child support and medical support. Enforcement actions will be taken by the DCSS if the non-custodial parent does not pay or pays less than the amount ordered, or if the non-custodial parent does not provide health insurance for the child as ordered by the court. The DCSS will determine what type of enforcement action is to be taken, consistent with State and Federal regulations.

Uniform Interstate Family Support Act
The DCSS will initiate or respond to another state to establish, enforce, or modify an order when either party resides out of state pursuant to UIFSA in order to collect child support from out-of-state parents. For more information, refer to the Child Support Handbook.

Merced County 2222 M Street Merced, CA 9543 Ph. (209) 385-7434 Toll Free (800) 226-6452