Common Legal Issues

In California, the child support enforcement program is referred to as a "IV-D program" because Title IV, Part D of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. Section 651 et seq.) requires each state to establish and enforce support orders when public assistance has been expended or, upon the request of either parent. California has designated the California Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) as the State’s agency to establish parentage and enforce support orders. Each California county (or region) has a designated local child support agency (LCSA) responsible for providing those services to its community. The County of Los Angeles Child Support Services Department (CSSD) is the LCSA serving Los Angeles County.

To learn more about Common Legal Issues, please click on one of the following:

Obtaining Information from CSSD files

Federal and state laws govern the confidentiality of local child support agency (LCSA) files. In general, LCSAs are prohibited from releasing information from their files, even by a subpoena. Family Code §17212 provides for the release of information only after a noticed motion and a court finding that release or disclosure is required by due process.

Exceptions

The law permits LCSAs to release some information from its records. For example, an LCSA may release a payment history to the court, the noncustodial parent and the custodial party. In addition, an LCSA may release a document requested by the party who wrote, prepared or furnished the document to the Child Support Services Department (CSSD).

Proofs of Service by CSSD

The confidentiality laws prohibit LCSAs from filing proofs of service reflecting where service occurred. Instead, LCSAs are required to reference Family Code §17212 and keep the actual address information in its records, which may be examined at the request of the judicial officer to determine the sufficiency of the service of process. If you were served with a Summons and Complaint, you or your attorney may Contact Us for the address where service on you was effected.

Obtaining address information from CSSD files

A noticed motion must be filed to obtain the address of another party. At the hearing, the court will inquire whether there is reason to believe that release of the requested information may result in harm. If the court determines that harm may occur, the court can deny the motion or issue protective orders or injunctive orders as necessary to protect the individuals.

When a local child support agency (LCSA) is enforcing a support case, the parties must serve the LCSA with all moving papers.

In addition, the moving party must serve the nonmoving party. Once both parents are parties to the action, the LCSA may serve the nonmoving party with pleadings relating solely to support issues, provided the pleadings are served on the LCSA not less than 30 days prior to the hearing. Family Code §17404.

Family Code §17406 provides that an LCSA does not have an attorney-client relationship with either parent in a case. LCSAs are not required to serve or participate in any proceedings relating solely to custody or visitation issues.

In addition, serving documents on an LCSA related to discovery does not constitute service on the nonmoving party.

The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) requires the Department of State to refuse to issue a passport to any person who owes more than $2,500 in back child support. 22 CFR 51.70(a)(8).

Please note the following: The California Family Law Courts do not have jurisdiction to rule on the federal passport issue directly. There is no statute that authorizes court intervention when a noncustodial parent has been certified as delinquent in child support.

See CSS Letter: 07-20 for more information about California’s Passport Denial Program.

The State License Suspension and Revocation Program, also known as the State Licensing Match System (SLMS), is an effective statutory enforcement tool used to aid in the collection of child support. The program denies, suspends, or revokes permanent state-issued driver, professional, business and recreational licenses of Person Paying Support (PPS) who owe past due child support and fail to comply with court orders to pay support. Family Code §17520.

Releasing a License

In order for the obligor's license to be released, the obligor must be in compliance with the judgment or order for support. The obligor can request to negotiate a repayment plan with the local child support agency (LCSA). Arrangements to pay the arrears can be made at any of our Public Contact Offices.

If the obligor is unable to reach an agreement with us, he or she can file a motion in the Superior Court to request judicial review. At the hearing, the court’s review is limited to the existence of a support obligation owed by the obligor, compliance with the order, and additional facts that may warrant conditional release. The court can uphold the LCSA’s decision not to release the license, grant an unconditional release, or grant a conditional release.

If the obligor falls out of compliance subsequent to the issuance of a conditional release, the California Department of Child Support Services may resubmit the obligor.

Vehicle Impoundment

A suspension or revocation of a driver license under this section should not subject the obligor's car to impoundment. However, the vehicle may still be towed from the highway pursuant to the Vehicle Code or if the obligor has other suspensions in effect at the time.

A Person Receiving Support (PRS) may take independent action to enforce a support order in a IV-D case with the written consent of the local child support agency (LCSA). At least 30 days prior to filing an independent enforcement action, the PRS must provide the LCSA with written notice of the parent’s intent to file an enforcement action that includes the type of action. See Judicial Council Form FL-645.

Within 30 days of receiving the notice, the LCSA must either provide written consent for the parent to proceed or notify the parent that it objects to the filing of the action. If the LCSA does not respond, it will be deemed to have given consent. Family Code §17404.

Any independent enforcement actions regarding support issues initiated by a parent in a case that an LCSA is enforcing must be heard by a

IV-D Commissioner. Family Code §4251.

In addition, the parent must serve the LCSA with notice of any action to modify the support order and provide us with a copy of the modified order within 15 calendar days after the order is issued. Family Code §17404.

Under certain circumstances, a PRS may use the services of a private collection agency (PCA) to collect support and still maintain an open IV-D case. A parent intending to hire a PCA must complete a Private Child Support Collectors Packet; please Contact Us.

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