The cost of living in California is expensive to say the least. If you
have been raising your children on your own for some time, or if you recently
broke up with your children’s other parent, it won’t be long
before you realize that
child support can make a huge difference in your children’s quality of life.
Sometimes, single parents can have a sense of pride and they’ll try
to support their children on their own, but this is not necessarily in
the children’s best interests. Whether or not the parents were ever
married, children deserve to be financially supported by both parents.
While it may seem complicated if you were never married to your children’s
other parent or if he or she has barely been in your children’s
lives, that does not mean that you have to do this alone. There are sophisticated
processes in place specifically designed to help single parents collect
child support, even if the other parent lives in another state or has
essentially “fallen off the grid.”
Going to Court for Child Support
Suppose you wish to ask for a child support order. In order to do this,
you will have to go to court to ask for it to issue an order. How you
go about this will depend on your answer:
If you are starting from scratch, the type of case you start will depend
on whether you’re married to the other parent or in a domestic partnership.
If you are currently married to your children’s other parent or
in a registered domestic partnership, you can ask the court for a child
support order in the following types of cases:
- Legal separation
- Domestic violence restraining order
- Petition for Custody and Support for Minor Children
To get your child support case started, first you’ll need to open
one of the above cases, then you can ask for a child support order. “But
what if we’re not married?” If you are NOT married or in a
domestic partnership, you can still ask the court for child support in the following types of cases:
- Paternity action
- Domestic violence restraining order
- Petition for Custody and Support of Minor Children
What if I Have an Open Case?
Remember, you cannot ask the court for child support unless you have an
open family law case. If you already have an open case; for example, a
legal separation, a divorce, or a paternity action, then an attorney from
our firm can fill out the necessary court forms on your behalf. The appropriate
form in this situation is called a
Request for Order (Form FL-300). “If this form is filed, does it mean that my children’s
other parent has to show up at court for a hearing?”
If a Form FL-300 is filed, it doesn’t necessarily mean the other
parent has to show up at court. After all, he or she may be MIA and the
courts realize that this happens sometimes, especially in child support
cases. “What if I can’t locate the other parent?”
Like we said earlier, this happens. To enforce a child support order for
a missing parent, the local child support agency (LCSA) will have to locate
the non-custodial parent. You can help the LCSA by providing them with
information about the individual’s income, assets, and whereabouts.
How does the LCSA locate missing parents?
- Driver license records
- Motor vehicle registration
- State licensing boards (for professional licenses)
- Current employers
- Previous employers
- Unemployment records
- Employment records
- Law enforcement agencies
- Probation and parole offices
- Credit reporting agencies
- California Employment Development Department
- The Federal Parent Locator Service
If a non-custodial parent cannot be located, the California Employment
Development Department can be helpful at times. Why? Because, when parents
owe child support, they may be found on the EDD’s new Employee Registry.
Under California law, all employers are required to report the names,
addresses and Social Security numbers of all new people that they hire,
so this can be a valuable resource.
You read about the EDD, which is on the state level. On the federal level,
there’s the Federal Parent Locator Service, a national directory
of new hires. This is a central database for employment across the country.
All U.S. employers are required by law to report a new hire’s name,
address, and Social Security number.
What if the Non-Custodial Parent in Another State?
Sometimes, a non-custodial parent will owe back child support and he or
she will move out of California. In fact, the parent may move around quite
a bit. This can be distressing for the custodial parent who needs the
child support payments to financially support their child. However, all
states have a child support agency that enforces child support orders.
“But don’t the laws vary from state-to-state?” While
this is true, all child support agencies work together to locate parents
and their assets to collect child support, whether it’s current
or past-due. Under the
Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA), states must work together to enforce support orders. Additionally,
select foreign countries will work with our agencies to enforce a child
support order from the U.S.
California’s Child Support Laws
Even if the other parent is down the street and he or she is eager to pay
child support, it’s still necessary to ask the court for a legally-enforceable
court order. To learn more about obtaining a child support order in the
Greater Los Angeles Area,
contact our firm today.