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The Court's Role in Child Support

Child Support Legal Process

California child support services are governed by various sections of the California Family Code including sections 17000 and thereafter. State regulations that operate the child support program can be found in Title 22, California Code of Regulations sections 110000 and thereafter, available on the Internet here.

The court process, step by step:

  • The Department files a Summons and Complaint
  • The Department serves the Obligor (person required to pay child support)
  • The Obligor responds within 30 days to the Summons and Complaint
  • The Obligee (person requesting child support) and Obligor submit individual Income and Expense Declarations
  • The Obligee and Obligor agree on support, or appear in court
  • The court sets the child support amount and issues the child support order and wage withholding order

For more information on how the amount of child support is determined see the Guideline Calculator

Key Definitions

  • Alleged Father
    A man who is not yet legally determined as the child’s father.
  • Complaint
    A complaint is defined as the formal written document filed in a court whereby the person initiating the action sets for the names of the parties, the allegations, and the request for relief sought. The initial pleading is sometimes called the petition.
  • Obligee
    The person receiving child support.
  • Obligor
    The person ordered to pay child support.
  • Stipulation
    An agreement between the parties to an action. All Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) Agency stipulations are submitted to the court. The court generally accepts the terms of the agreement and makes an order.
  • Service of Process
    “Service of Process” is defined as the delivery of a writ or summons to the party to whom it is directed for the purpose of obtaining jurisdiction over that party and providing notice.
  • Summons
    The summons notifies the alleged obligor that a lawsuit has been filed against him/her and advises the alleged obligor of their rights.

Legal Self-Help Services

Placer County Legal Help Center
Bill Santucci Justice Center
10820 Justice Center Drive
Roseville, CA 95678

There is also self-help available at: