• lacounty.gov      Customer Contact Center (866) 901-3212

Establishing

a Court Order

If the Person Paying Support (PPS) is located and there is no court order, we will file a case with the court to obtain a court order for parentage (legal parent-child relationship), child support and medical support. This court order is called a Judgment.

We will serve the PPS with child support papers that contain a Summons, Complaint and Proposed Judgment (S&C). The S&C will include a proposed child support amount based on guidelines required by law. The guidelines use a standard formula for determining the child support amount, although the judicial officer may change the amount under limited circumstances.

Children

If the child lives with one parent or legal caretaker most of the time, that person is known as the Person Receiving Support (PRS). We will file a lawsuit for parentage and support against the other parent, who we refer to as the Person Paying Support (PPS). If the child does not live with either parent, or is in foster care, we may file cases for parentage and support against both parents.

When we file a case with the court, the papers we file are called a Summons and Complaint and Proposed Judgment (S&C). These papers are very important. They tell the PPS that a lawsuit has been filed and how much support we are asking the court to order.

Usually a process server will provide the PPS with copies of the lawsuit papers. This is called service of process. The papers tell the PPS about the case against him or her and give the PPS an opportunity to participate in the decision-making process. When the PPS is served with the papers, the clock begins and legal deadlines are set.

The Summons & Complaint and Proposed Judgment (S&C) packet includes a blank Answer form. It is important to read the papers carefully. The Person Paying Support (PPS) has an opportunity to tell the court that he or she agrees or disagrees with what we are requesting in the S&C. This is done by completing the Answer and filing it with the court clerk. There is NO FEE to file your Answer in these cases.

A PPS may request genetic testing if he believes he is not the father of the child listed in the S&C. If the case qualifies for genetic testing, we will schedule the testing.

Genetic Testing

Deadlines to file: A PPS who receives the lawsuit papers in person (personal service) has 30 days to file an Answer with the court. If the process server missed the PPS and left the papers with someone at the PPS’s home or work and mailed a copy, the PPS has 40 days from the date the papers were mailed to file an Answer with the court clerk.

If you are the PPS, after you complete your Answer, make a copy for yourself and a copy for our office. Do NOT send us the original Answer form. FILE YOUR ORIGINAL ANSWER form at:

Los Angeles County Superior Court
Central Civil West Courthouse
Domestic Support Unit, Room 314
600 S. Commonwealth Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90005

Have a copy of the Answer sent to us as stated on page 2 of the Answer form. If you are a PPS and would like help understanding the papers or filling out the Answer form, you can hire an attorney or contact the Office of the Family Law Facilitator.

Office of the Family Law Facilitator

In California, a parent’s first and primary obligation is to support his or her minor children. Each parent is expected to pay for the support of a child according to his or her ability.

California created a standard mathematical formula that our office and judicial officers are required to use to calculate child support. Information placed into this formula includes, but is not limited to: the earnings and income of each parent; the amount of time each parent takes care of the child (“timeshare”); certain expenses; and the number of other minor children that the parent is required by law to support.

California developed a Guideline Calculator, which can be used to estimate the amount of child support that might be ordered.

Judicial officers have the final authority to determine the amount of a child support order. The Guideline Calculator provides only an estimate and is not a guarantee of the amount of child support that will be ordered. Other factors may impact the amount of a child support order.

Guideline Calculator

A support order may be obtained in the following ways:

  • Stipulation – If the Person Paying Support (PPS) and our office reach an agreement regarding the requests made in the Summons & Complaint and Proposed Judgment (S&C), the PPS may sign an agreement called a “stipulation.” By signing the stipulation form, the PPS agrees that:
    • He or she is the parent of the child
    • He or she will pay the amount of child support and provide health insurance as stated in the stipulation
    • The court may enter an order or judgment based on the stipulation
  • Default Judgment – In general, if the PPS did not file an Answer to the S&C within 30 days, and a stipulation has not been reached, the judicial officer may enter a Judgment by default. This means the judicial officer may enter a final Judgment based on the terms of the Proposed Judgment, without a court hearing and without any input from the PPS.
  • Court Hearing – If the PPS files an Answer with the court clerk, the case will be scheduled for a court hearing. A PPS may request Genetic Testing to determine if he is the biological father of the child and may ask the court to decide the amount of child support. If the PPS does not attend the hearing, the court may make an order without him or her.

All orders for child support obtained by our office will contain an earnings assignment order, which orders the PPS’s employer to withhold the amount of the child support from the PPS’s wages and send it to the State Disbursement Unit (SDU).

Go to Genetic Testing Page

California law requires the judicial officer to order parents to provide health insurance (medical, dental, and vision) for their child if it is available at a reasonable cost. Effective January 1, 2011, health insurance is considered reasonable if the cost for the child(ren) is not more than five percent (5%) of the obligor parent’s gross (before taxes) income. The court will also order a National Medical Support Notice (NMSN), which requires an employer to enroll the child in a health insurance plan and to deduct the cost of the plan from the wages of the parent. Medical support can also include an order to pay a cash amount for medical expenses that are not covered by insurance. If cash medical support is ordered, it is due in addition to basic child support. Generally speaking, the court will order the expenses not covered by insurance to be shared by the parents based on a 50-50 split; 50% to each parent. If you have any questions about your specific case, please contact LA County Child Support Services.

Health Insurance Marketplace

Effective October 1, 2013, consumers are able to choose new affordable insurance options through the Health Insurance Marketplace on the Covered California website. You can also compare health insurance options to best meet your needs and budget. The Health Insurance Marketplace Application for Health Coverage & Help Paying Cost can be completed and submitted online, beginning October 1, 2013, with coverage effective January 1, 2014.

The Marketplace customer service center is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and is accessible by telephone at (800) 318-2596, TTY (855) 889-4325 or by live online chat with representatives available in 150 languages

Go to Contact Us Page Visit Covered California

A person who is on active duty in the military service of the United States has specific protections under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), formerly called the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Civil Relief Act, that may impact child support. The primary purpose of the SCRA is to protect members of the military during the period of their military service.

Under the SCRA, certain civil legal actions cannot be taken against active duty military personnel, including:

  • The service member may request a stay of all judicial and administrative civil proceedings if he or she is actively deployed on a military operation
  • Generally the court must appoint an attorney to the service member before a default judgment can be entered
  • The service member may request a stay of execution (the carrying out) of a judgment, attachment, or garnishment order under certain circumstances
  • The service member may request a review and possible modification of his or her child support order prior to deployment
  • The service member may request to lower the interest rate from 10% to 6% on past due support under certain conditions
For more information on how military service affects parents’ rights and responsibilities, click the button below.

Go to Military Page

If a Person Paying Support (PPS) is served with a Summons, Complaint and Proposed Judgment (S&C) while in jail, he or she has only 30 days from the date the papers are served to respond to the court. It is important to read the paperwork carefully. A PPS may request Genetic Testing if he believes he is not the father of the child listed in the S&C. If the case qualifies for genetic testing, this can usually be done while the PPS is in jail. The PPS should contact Child Support Services by telephone or in writing as soon as he or she receives the papers.

If a PPS wants assistance, most courts in California have an Office of the Family Law Facilitator (FLF) to provide child support information and to help parties obtain and complete court forms. FLF services are free and are not connected to us. An incarcerated PPS can also ask his or her criminal attorney or public defender for assistance.

Go to Genetic Testing Page Visit Office of the Family Law Facilitator

X