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Superior Court of California - County of San Diego: Family & Children: Family Support Division

Child Support

Before parents can address the issue of child support, there must be an underlying action.

  • If the parents are married, either the mother or the father must first file an action requesting a dissolution of marriage, legal separation, or annulment.
  • If the parents are unmarried, either the mother or the father must file an action to establish the parental relationship.
  • There is no legal obligation to pay child support from one parent to the other until there is a court order.
  • A court order is obtained by requesting a hearing.

There are two types of child support orders - governmental and non-governmental.

Available Services
  • Family Support Division (Governmental Child Support)
  • Child Support (Non-Governmental)
  • San Diego Department of Child Support Services
  • Family Law Self Help Services
  • Court Links

  • Child Support (Non-Governmental)

    Child support is the amount of money that the court orders one parent to pay the other parent every month for the support of the children. California has a formula (called a "guideline") for figuring out how much child support should be paid in all cases. Click here to learn more about how child support is calculated.

    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. Parents may agree to support a child longer. The court may also order that both parents continue to support a disabled adult child that is not self-supporting. Click here to learn more about when child support ends.

    You can ask the judge to make a child support order when you:

    Parents who

    Click here to learn more about getting your first support order.

    Either parent can later ask the judge to change the amount if the situation changes. Click here for forms and instructions to help you change a support order.

    Parents can also ask the judge for help collecting (enforcing) a support order. Click here for forms and instructions to help you enforce a support order.

    Family Support Division (Governmental Child Support)

    The Family Support Division (FSD) hears all actions filed by the Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) regarding support, support enforcement, medical insurance and paternity. The FSD also hears support issues in family law cases in which the DCSS is providing enforcement services.

    The FSD does not hear matters regarding divorce, custody, visitation, restraining orders, or property issues. These issues must be heard at one of the family law locations.

    All paperwork in FSD cases may be filed at the Family Support Division located at:

    San Diego County Courthouse
    220 West Broadway, 4th Floor, Room 4005
    San Diego CA 92101
    (619) 450-5799

    Business office hours are 8:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. Monday –Thursday and 8:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. on Friday, except court holidays.

    You may call the FSD business office to schedule an ex-parte hearing. When calling the FSD business office please have your Superior Court case number readily available. You may call DCSS at 1-866-901-3212 if you don't know your case number and ask them to do a search by Social Security Number. Please make sure you ask for your Superior Court case number.

    If your child support case has been assigned to the North County Regional Center (Vista courthouse), it will be heard in Department NC-34. Documents relating to child support cases in Vista may be filed in the Vista Family Law/Civil Business Office located at:

    North County Regional Center
    325 South Melrose Dr.
    Vista, California 92081
    (760) 201-8600

    In order to obtain copies from an FSD case you may come to the San Diego County Courthouse in person or send a written request (please allow up to two weeks for processing written requests) to the address listed above. Please include the following in your request: Superior Court case number, the parties' names, documents you wish to have copied, check or money order made payable to "Clerk of the Court" and a self-addressed envelope with sufficient postage. There is an additional charge for certified copies (see Domestic Fee Schedule for certification and copying fees). Except for the judgment or orders modifying the judgment, access to paternity files is limited to the parties in the case. If you are a party to a paternity case and wish to request copies of documents other than a judgment or modifying orders, please enclose a copy of your picture ID.

    There are no filing fees for paperwork filed relating to the child support issues in FSD cases. Filing fees are required for filings at other family law locations that relate to child custody and visitation. If you cannot afford to pay the required fee, you may request a Fee Waiver. The following are the forms you'll need to apply for a fee waiver:

    San Diego Department of Child Support Services

    The Department of Child Support Services provides the following services:

    • Establish paternity (fatherhood).
    • Locate parents for support establishment and enforcement.
    • Establish child and/or medical support orders.
    • Enforce child and/or medical support orders.
    • Modify existing court orders for child and/or medical support.
    • Enforce spousal support orders where there is also a child support order.
    • Collect and distribute support payments.

    Please contact the DCSS at 1-866-901-3212 concerning the following issues:

    • Payment information
    • Verification by an employer of a wage assignment arrears balances
    • Tax intercepts
    • Information reported to credit bureaus
    • Liens/abstracts of support judgment
    • When requesting a continuance of an upcoming hearing
    • To give an ex-parte notice

    Do not call the FSD business office for these issues. Information regarding these issues is not available to the FSD business office.

    Family Law Self Help Services

    The staff of the Family Law Facilitator's Office (FLF) can help unrepresented parents and parties who have questions about family law issues. They can help you in preparing court forms and can give you general legal information at no cost. The Family law Facilitator's Office is staffed by court attorneys, paralegals, and clerks with experience in family law. The Family Law Facilitator's Office does not assist parents or parties who are represented by an attorney. The attorneys at the Family law Facilitator's Office are not your lawyer, but are neutral court employees who do not represent any parent or party and may provide information and services to all parties in the case.

    Assistance in cases where the DCSS is enforcing support is provided by the FLF at the following locations:

    San Diego County Courthouse
    220 W. Broadway, 4th Floor, Room 4001
    San Diego, CA 92101

    Sign in time: 7:00 a.m.
    Sessions begin at 8:30 a.m.
    North County Courthouse
    325 S. Melrose Drive
    Vista, CA 92081

    Sign in time: 7:30 a.m.
    Sessions being at 8:30 a.m.

    Services are provided on a walk-in basis (first come, first served). Arrive early as space is limited.

    For assistance with financial matters, please bring written proof of your income for the past 12 months, including your pay stubs for the last two months, your last federal income tax return, any W-2 forms for last year, and copies of any relevant court orders.

    Court Links

    California Judicial Council's Forms page
    Download your California family support forms.

    California's Department of Child Support Services Organization (CDCSS)
    Get information on paternity, child support enforcement, the child support process and other pertinent information regarding support issues.

    California Family Codes
    California rules on paternity and child support and other family codes.

    Child Support FAQ

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