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child/spousal support
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This page tells you about:

  1. How to get an Order for Child Support
  2. How to file a Request for Order
  3. How to raise or lower child support
  4. How to get your driver's license back (or other professional license)
  5. How to get an estimate of what amount of child support the court might order
  6. Frequently Asked Questions
  1. How to get an Order for Child Support

    To get an order for child support, you must first file a case with the Court. If you do not have an existing case, you need to file one:

    Alternatives:
     
    • If you ARE MARRIED to the other parent, you can file an action for divorce or legal separation. If you do not want to file for divorce or legal separation, you can file a Petition for Custody and Support of Minor Children and Summons.  

    • If you are NOT MARRIED to the other parent, you must file a parentage action. This means you are asking the court to say who the other parent is. You are also allowed to ask for child support, custody and visitation orders at the same time.
       
    • If you are asking for a Domestic Violence (DV) restraining order and also need child support, click to visit our DV page.
       
    • You can contact the Department of Child Support Services (DCSS)  to open a child support case for you free.

    Here are ways you can ask the court for an order:  

  2. How to file a Request for Order

    • What is and when to use a Request for Order

      When you file your divorce, legal separation or parentage case, you must also file a motion called a Request for Order. A Request for Order is a court order for the other party in your case to come to Court.


      You can file a Request for Order to:
       
      • Ask for temporary child orders when you first file your parentage, divorce, or legal separation case
      • Ask for child orders in an existing case
      • Ask for a change to your current orders, or
      • Ask to cancel ("set aside") a default judgment (a judgment that was made when you didn't respond to legal papers or appear in court) in a Department of Child Support Services child support case. If the court cancels the judgment, they will tell you what you owe for current and past child support (arrears).
    • Forms you will need:

      If you are the person filing the Request for Order (called the "moving party"), you must fill out these forms.

      Note: there are helpful video instructions for some Court forms. Click on the video links below.
      Request for Order State Form FL-300  See A/V instructions for FL-300 video icon
      Financial Statement (Simplified) or Use if you are only asking for child support:
      State Form FL-155  See A/V instructions for
      FL-155 video icon
      Income and Expense Declaration Use if you are also asking for spousal support or attorney fees: State Form FL-150  See A/V instructions for FL-150 video icon


      You will also need the following forms for serving these documents on your spouse:  

      There are helpful video instructions for the last two forms listed.

      There are 3 ways to fill out your own forms:  
      • Print the form on a printer, then print neatly in blue or black ink; or
      • Fill out the form online using the links above, and print the filled-out form
      • Click here for forms on the Judicial Council State Form web page to complete online and then print
    • How to fill out, file and serve the Request for Order:

      Step 1: Fill out the forms: If you have an existing case, no matter how old, use the same case title. After you fill out your forms, make 3 copies (for you, the other party, and one extra).

      Step 2: File the forms: Take your completed forms to your local court’s Calendar office and ask for a hearing date. Then file your papers at the Clerk's office.

      If the Department of Child Support Services (DCSS)  is already collecting child support in your case, you will file papers, and your hearings will be at Notre Dame Courthouse.

      If the Department of Child Support Services is not collecting child support in your case, you will file papers, and your hearings will be at the Family Courthouse

      .

      Step 3: Serve the documents: You must serve the other parent with endorsed/filed copies of the court forms at least 21 days before your hearing (or sooner if the Judge says so).

      Someone over 18 — not you — must personally serve the other parent. And, if the Department of Child Support Services is collecting child support, someone over 18 — not you — must personally serve it.

      These are the forms you must serve:  

      • Your Request for Order
      • Your Application for Order and Supporting Declaration
      • Your Simplified Financial Statement or Income and Expense Declaration
      • A blank Responsive Declaration
      • A blank Simplified Financial Statement or Income and Expense Declaration

      Remember: You cannot serve the papers yourself. Your papers must be served by an adult (over 18) who is not involved in your case. OR, hire a professional process server to serve your papers. (See your phone book.)

      The person who serves the papers must complete a Proof of Personal Service (State Form FL-330 ). The proof of service says he or she delivered the papers to the other party.

      If you need to serve papers to someone in custody, read How to Serve Someone in Jail or in Prison in California .

      Step 4: File the Proof of Service: File the original proof of service at the Court Clerk’s office as soon as possible. This should be done before your hearing. Bring a filed copy of the proof of service to your hearing. If you can't file the proof of service before the hearing, bring the original to your hearing.

      Step 5: Go to your hearing: Come to Court early. Look for your name on the court calendar. The calendar is on the wall outside the courtroom door.

      Make sure your case is listed on the calendar. If it is not listed, and your papers say this is the right date and time, show your papers to the deputy inside the courtroom or go to the Calendar Clerk in the Clerk’s Office.

      Remember: Bring copies of all the papers in your case (especially the ones you filed to get this Court hearing), your copy of the filed proof of service, and any other papers that support your case, like pay stubs for the last 3 months, tax returns for the previous year, child care receipts, and anything else that supports the information in your Simplified Financial Statement or Income and Expense Declaration.

      If you are self-employed, bring papers that show how much money your business is making. If you have any witnesses, make sure they come, too.

      Step 6: After the hearing: After the hearing, any orders the Judge makes must be written down on court forms. You can ask the Judge for a referral to the Family Law Facilitator for help with the forms. Read important information on the Child Support Case Registry Form instruction sheet  and to download the form itself, State Form FL-191 .

    • Other things you should know...

      Amount of Child Support: The Judge will follow the child support laws (“guideline”) to decide how much child support should be ordered.

      Health Care: When you ask for child support, the Judge can make orders about who pays your child(ren)’s health insurance (this includes vision and dental) and how the parents share the health care costs not paid for by insurance.

      Child Care: When you ask for child support, you can also ask the other parent to share your child(ren)’s child care costs

      Child Support Payments: Child Support is usually paid from a parent’s paycheck (withholding). To do this, visit a lawyer or the Family Law Facilitator. Employers cannot fire employees because child support comes out of their paycheck. Help:

      If you need extra help, talk to a lawyer or to the Family Law Facilitator

  3. How to raise or lower child support

    If you want to ask the Judge to change the child support (higher or lower), you have to file the correct court forms in your court case. It does not matter how old your case is. The law says you must show that circumstances have changed since the last order.


    To change the amount of support, you can:

    • Talk to a lawyer  - see information on local Bar Association attorney referrals and other legal help on our Free & Low-Cost Legal Help page

    • Ask the Department of Child Support Services  to help you  

    • Do it yourself. You can buy a self-help book or legal forms and instructions that explain how to file a Request for Order to change child support. You can get these forms on the Judicial Council's web site  or using the links above.
       
    • Contact the Family Law Facilitator. If you and the other parent have an agreement, or think you can make an agreement on the amount of child support, they can help you write up your agreement. (They cannot help you write up an agreement if the Department of Child Support Services is collecting child support in your case.)  
  4. How to reinstate (get back) your driver's license (or other professional license)

    If you do not pay court-ordered child support, your license can be suspended. To get your license back, contact the Department of Child Support Services. If that doesn’t work, ask the Judge to order the Department of Child Support Services to give you your license back.

    To do this, file a Notice of Motion for Judicial Review of License Denial (State Form FL-670 ). Filing this form does NOT change how much child support you must pay. To change your support order, file an Order to Show Cause. 

    Here’s how you file your Notice of Motion for Judicial Review of License Denial.  

    • Fill out the Notice of Motion for Judicial Review of License Denial form (State Form FL-670 ). Use the same case number and case title. You and the other parent will always be called Petitioner or Respondent as you were in the first papers filed.  

    • Make two copies of your form (one for you, the other for the Department of Child Support Services). The original is for the Court file.  

    • Go to the Calendar window at the Clerk’s office and ask for a date for your hearing. At the hearing, you will tell the Judge why you should get your license back.  

    • Take your forms to the Clerk’s office at the Superior Court, Notre Dame Courthouse and file them. You will have to pay to file the forms. The clerk will tell you how much or you can look at the local fee schedule  on the Court's Fee page - look for "hearing fees (first response)" on the current local fee schedule.

      If you don’t have enough money to pay the filing fee, ask the clerk for an Application for a fee waiver packet. (Read more about Fee Waivers.) Fill out the forms, attach a pay stub, and turn your forms to the Document Examiner. The judge will decide by the next business day, if you can get a fee waiver. Come back then to pick up your papers to see if you have to pay the fee. (See Family Ex Parte - Document Examiner lists.)
       
    • Serve the papers - Serve the papers on the Department of Child Support Services (DCSS)  by dropping off a copy to the Family Law Facilitator.  

    • Get ready for your hearing - On the date of your hearing, you will probably have to wait a long time. Sometimes, it takes more than half a day. DO NOT bring children.
  5. How to get an estimate of what amount of child support the court might order

    Visit the California Guideline Child Support Payment Calculator . This is a free, online calculator program provided by the California Department of Child Support Services (DCSS).
     
  6. Frequently Asked Questions

    • Is my spouse's income going to be counted for child support? The Court usually uses the parents' incomes only to calculate child support. But, the Court can ask about your spouse's income for tax or other purposes.

    • How do I stop my employer from taking child support out of my paycheck when my child turns 18? You must file an Order To Show Cause to ask the Court to stop taking money out of your pay. If the Court approves, the Judge will sign a new wage withholding order for $0. You can take this to your employer.

    • Do I still have to pay child support if I have 50/50 custody? If you make more money than the other parent, you may still have to pay some child support.

    • Will the Court consider that I have other children to support? The Court can give you credit for other child support orders and for other children in your home that you support. The Court usually does not give credit for stepchildren, or grandchildren.

    • Will I pay less child support if I have the child(ren) more often? The amount of time that the children are with you is a factor in calculating child support.

    • How long do I have to pay child support? You will pay until the child is 18 years old, if he or she graduates from high school. If your 18-year-old child is still a full time high school student and still lives with a parent, you must pay child support until your child graduates or turns 19.

    • Do I have to pay the interest on past due child support? Usually, the Court cannot reduce or cancel interest on past due child support. Talk to a lawyer.

    • How do I stop them from taking half my paycheck? If your employer is deducting 50% or more of your check, you may have an arrears (past due child support) balance. First, contact the Department of Child Support Services  to see if you can make other arrangements. If that does not work, you can file court forms to ask a judge to set a payment that you can afford.

    • What if the other party does not pay the child support? Talk to a lawyer or visit the Family Law Facilitator.

    • Where can I get more information? See the DCSS Child Support Handbook , the DCSS Child Support Publications page , and the State Court Self-Help page on Child, Spousal and Partner Support .

See more questions and answers about Child Support on the Family Frequently Asked Questions page.

© 2014 Superior Court of California, County of Santa Clara