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:
- Do you already have a family court case that is involving your children’s other parent, such as an annulment, paternity case, legal separation, domestic violence, or divorce action?
- Are you starting from scratch?
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.
Related: 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.