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How child support complaints are resolved in California

In California, when parents have problems with child support orders, the California Department of Child Support Services can provide assistance if a parent requests help. For noncustodial parents, the issue may be that child support payments are too high; for custodial parents, the issue may be that the obligor misses payments. Fortunately, complaints can be filed by any party that has an issue that can be addressed by Child Support Services. The forms required to file complaints are available at local child support agencies, typically county agencies, as well as the Department of Child Support Services' official website.

Local child support agencies can resolve certain cases. For instance, they can help with delinquent payments and billing and when a child support case needs to be closed. These agencies cannot resolve complaints where action has been taken by a court on matters such as custody, visitation, spousal support and child support orders. These matters can only be resolved by a court. A local child support agency also cannot resolve complaints about court services. For these, an attorney or a court's own family law facilitator may be able to help.

A state hearing can be requested following a decision made by the child support agency. These appeals can only be made when child support services were denied, the services were untimely, child support payments are missing or delinquent or a decision has been made to close the case. Forms to request a state hearing are available at local agencies and online.

Despite a fairly robust state system, child support issues continue to plague many California parents. Sometimes the issue is a delinquent payment and sometimes it is a modification request. Whatever the situation, a parent can engage legal counsel because child support is an important means of safeguarding the best interests of a child.

Source: ChildSup.CA.gov, "Complaint Resolution and State Hearing Program," accessed on Jan. 21, 2015

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