Have you received a letter from the Department of Child Support Services, asking for information about your income? Have you been served with court papers to appear for a hearing at DCSS? Are you a custodial parent who is required to appear at a child support hearing against the other parent who is resisting payment? If so, you need to know your legal rights and obligations.

The California Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) assists parents in establishing, modifying and enforcing orders for child support.

The custodial parent can request services from DCSS in the county in which he or she lives. This can be done before or after a proceeding is brought in Family Court for divorce or paternity. It can also be done when there is no Family Court case.

An unmarried custodial parent can get help from DCSS to establish paternity and to obtain an order for child support. However, DCSS does not get involved in child custody or visitation disputes. That requires a separate legal proceeding in Family Court.

If the parents were married but later separate, the custodial parent can get help from DCSS in obtaining an order for child support, without filing a divorce case in Family Court.

A custodial parent who is receiving welfare, which is called CalWORKS in California, will have a child support case automatically opened at the Local Child Support Agency (DCSS). DCSS will establish paternity, establish child support and collect child support payments.

If you are a noncustodial parent and have received papers from DCSS, you should obtain legal advice before you sign anything. You should not go to court without first obtaining legal advice from an attorney. The attorneys at DCSS are not there to advise you about your rights. Call the office of Nancy Stassinopoulos, APC for a consultation.