Raising a child is expensive.  A recent report from the United States Department of Agriculture estimated that the average middle-class family would spend upwards of $240,000.00 to raise a child born in 2012 over the course of 17 years.  This estimate includes food, shelter, clothing, and other basic necessities.  Raising a child is a financial commitment that can be difficult without the necessary support of both parents.  Ensuring that you have all the relevant information about the application process is an important first step.  As Ventura’s premier non-attorney legal document self-help assistance service, A People’s Choice is ready and able to help guide you through the process of establishing your paternity and child support California Order.

Governmental or Professional Help – Which Option is Best?

The California Department of Child Support Services (CDCSS) is the central state government agency that handles the issuance and enforcement of child support orders.  Throughout the process of establishing and enforcing an order for child support, this agency will serve as the intermediary between you and the parent against whom the order is issued.  The CDCSS can help you find a parent, prove paternity, and establish, change, or enforce court ordered child support.

An alternative to the using a governmental agency to help establish a paternity and child support California order is to use the services of a California registered legal document assistant (LDA). Using an LDA to help you in establishing your paternity and child support California order may be a faster option because of the overburdened governmental agencies and their case overload. A legal document assistant can quickly prepare and file the required court paperwork and get the matter before a judge much faster than the California Department of Child Support Services. This quick action offers the custodial parent peace of mind with formal, legal custodial orders as well as faster child support payments.

Establishing Paternity and Child Support California Orders – Where To Start?

The first step in establishing a child support order is establishing paternity (fatherhood).  There are a few ways to initially confirm paternity.  The first is through a voluntary admission of paternity by the father.  If the father of the child admits to being the father (which is common), then he would need to file a Voluntary Declaration of Paternity form (CS 909).

When a child is born in California and the parents of the child are not married, the hospital will ask both parents to sign a Voluntary Declaration of Paternity before they leave the hospital. A copy of this form is provided to each parent and retained on file at the hospital where the child was born.

The signing of a Voluntary Declaration of Paternity is not a court order and does not legally confirm paternity. Paternity must be confirmed through a formal court process and the filing of a Paternity Petition with the court. When the Paternity Petition is filed with the court, a copy of the Voluntary Declaration of Paternity signed by the parents is attached as an Exhibit. If the father is disputing paternity, the court will need the father to take part in a paternity test. This will conclusively prove paternity, and allow the process to move forward.

If the father leaves the state before paternity is established, options are still available.  One option would apply where the father is in another state, but is willing to take part in the process of establishing paternity.  In this situation, the father could either sign the Declaration of Paternity mentioned above, or submit to genetic testing at his resident state’s branch of Child Support Services.  In a situation where the father has left the state and cannot be found, the court may be able to prove paternity without him.  In this case, a child support order would still be enforceable.

It is important to keep in mind that paternity must be established in order for a child support order to be issued, however, these two issues are often submitted to the court for determination at the same time.

Obtain a Child Support Order in Paternity Case

The next step in establishing child support is filing the necessary court documents to enable the court to make a child support order.  Typically the Motion for custody, visitation and child support is filed at the same time as the Paternity Petition to prove paternity. This may sound complicated, but you do not need to hire an attorney to help you to establish your paternity and child support California order. Although these forms can be very complicated, they can easily be completed by an experienced legal document assistant for a low fee.

If you want to work through the California Department of Child Support Services, a free but typically very slow and arduous process,  you can fill out the packet of forms including the FS-CSS-002,  which is California’s simplified application for child support services.  The packet of forms is slightly complicated, but it is a necessary step in securing an order.  Fortunately, this form is self-service, which means that you can print it out and seek help in filling it out.  Once completed, the forms must be submitted to the CDCSS, at which point the court system will start processing your claim.

Enforcement of Child Support Order

Once your paternity and child support California order is established, it can be enforced.  If a person has used the services of a legal document assistant and obtained the child support order directly from the court, an automatic Pay-over Order can be issued by the court which allows the child support to be automatically withdrawn from the supporting parent’s paycheck and paid directly to the other parent. If the parent against whom the order has been established has used the services of the Department of Child Support Services to get the order, all payments will first be filtered directly to the State Disbursement Unit (SDU).  The SDU then issues payments directly to the parent enforcing the order.  Payments can be received through direct deposit, check, or through an Electronic Payment Card (essentially a debit card).

If the parent against whom the order has been established refuses to pay, the state has safeguards set in place to compel him or her to pay.  Under the Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement of Support Act (URESA) and the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA), child support issued in one state is enforceable in another state.  As an act of last resort, the court may take action against the non-paying parent including garnishment of wages, suspension of a driver’s license, suspension of a passport, and more.

Let us Help You

With over 35 years of experience, A People’s Choice has a reputation for providing stress free non-attorney legal document services in Ventura County and throughout California.   If you are considering pursuing paternity and child support in California,  let A People’s Choice help you in preparing the necessary documents. We appreciate the difficulty and confusion that comes along with levying legal action against someone, and we are here to support you. Contact us today.

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A People’s Choice can save you hundreds of dollars by preparing your legal documents instead of an expensive attorney!