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Legal Corner

The court process begins when our office files a Summons and Complaint with the court to get a child support order. The Summons and Complaint includes:

  • Names and dates of birth of the children for whom a finding of parentage and child support are requested.
  • Name of the other parent of the children, if the children are in their custody
  • Amount of child support requested,
  • Address and telephone number of the court, and
  • Address and telephone number of our office.

The Summons and Complaint and a blank Answer will either be personally delivered to the parent from whom child support is sought, or if after several unsuccessful attempts by a process server to deliver the documents personally, they may be left with any other adult who resides with the parent for whom support is sought or at the parent’s place of employment.  If the documents are left with anyone other than the parent from whom child support is sought, a copy of those documents will also be mailed to the parent at their place of residence.  This is done within 90 days of locating the parent and is called "service of process".

The parent served a Summons and Complaint must file with the Court and serve on DCSS an Answer to the Complaint or Supplemental Complaint Regarding Parental Obligations form (form FL-610) within 30 days of receiving the Summons and Complaint. This is important in order to avoid having a Judgment entered against them without their participation. If the parent served does not respond in writing within 30 days, the court will enter the orders of parentage and child support requested in the Proposed Judgment served with the Summons and Complaint must fill out and file the Answer with the court within 30 days. If the person served does not respond in writing within 30 days, the court will set child support with the information it has. A parent served a Summons and Complaint should call or visit our office or the Family Law Facilitator to talk about the case.

Computer Calendar

Our office uses the same child support guidelines the court uses. If the noncustodial parent agrees to pay the guidelineamount of child support, an agreement, or stipulation, is may be prepared. The court usually approves the stipulation without requiring the noncustodial parent to come to court.

Link to CA Judicial Council form FL-610:

If you already have a child support order and were recently served with a Notice of Motion filed by DCSS, you should file a written response to the requests outlined in the Notice of Motion.  You can submit your response by completing, filing and serving the Response to Governmental Notice of Motion or Order to Show Cause form (form FL-685) prior to your scheduled court hearing date.

Link to CA Judicial Council form FL-685:

If you are scheduled for a court hearing to establish or modify your child support order you must file with the Court and serve on DCSS a completed Income and Expense Declaration form (form FL-150).  If you previously filed an Income and Expense Declaration form with the Court you will be required to file a new one if your circumstances have since changed or if you filed it more than 90 days prior to your hearing date.

CA Rules of Court, Rule 5.260(a)(3) requires both parties to complete, file and serve a current Income and Expense Declaration on all parties, “current” means the form has been completed within the past three months providing no facts have changed.

Always bring a copy of this completed form and all attachments with you to your hearing.

Link to CA Judicial Council form FL-150:


Every court action starts with some type of “initiating” document. These are usually called a petition or a complaint. In government actions, a case is started by filing a complaint. The complaint is served on the would-be obligor along with another document called a summons. The latter document is what calls you into court and tells you if you don’t answer, then the court will issue an adverse judgment against you. The package together is called a Summons & Complaint (S&C).


In almost all civil litigation, the defendant/respondent does not know what the judgment is going to look like (they will have an idea what the plaintiff/petitioner is asking for, but the judgment preparation comes much later). Not so in the governmental child support context. Along with the S&C, our office will serve the Respondent with a Proposed Judgment. If you fail to respond, that proposed judgment becomes the judgment (the only difference being instead of saying “this is a proposed judgment,” it will now say, “this is a judgment. It is now legally binding.”).


For the obligor parent to get a court hearing, the parent served with the Summons & Complaint must file an Answer (Response). Failure to do so, as mentioned above, will result in the “proposed judgment” becoming the “judgment” via a process called “default.” The obligor parent can file an answer to challenge paternity, amount of child support, etc. (if you want to challenge jurisdiction, it is suggested you go the court’s self-help center and get advice; otherwise, you may inadvertently consent to jurisdiction). There is nothing stopping you from filing the answer while working with DCSS to resolve the matter via stipulation. The Answer protects you from a judgment being filed against you without your consent or without a court hearing.


All orders for child support must include a wage and earnings assignment order (also called an Income Withholding Order (IWO)), requiring the paying parent’s employer to deduct support payments from his/her salary or wages. The local child support agencies have the power to issue IWOs administratively, i.e., they need not get court’s permission to issue an IWO. The parents may also be ordered to provide private health insurance for their child(ren) if it is available to them at no cost or reasonable cost through their employment or union affiliation (reasonable cost is 5% of income or less).

Either parent can request our office to review his/her case for modification. The child support order may be modified anytime there has been a change in circumstances to one of the guideline factors, such as visitation percentage, income, or a new biological or adopted child residing in your home. Based on financial and other information provided to our office we will determine if a modification for a higher or lower amount is recommended. Both parents will be informed of our decision.

If one or more of the children change their primary residence to that of the paying parent, both parents should contact DCSS immediately to commence a modification of the order.  If one or more of your children resided with you during a period that you were billed to pay child support for them, you may be able to request relief from the court for the arrears that accumulated during that time if they continue to remain owing.  To be considered for this type of relief, you must file your own request with the court (the court has no authority to modify support retroactively, but there is a process to forgive arrears for period where obligor had primary care; this relief is called request for Jackson credits).  If you need assistance, you should contact the Riverside Superior Court Self-Help Services Department. If the non-custodial parent is or will be incarcerated for 60 consecutive days or more, the non-custodial parent may request to lower his/her current support order. This is based on inability to pay. If you were incarcerated for a past period – 90 days or more – then you can ask that your incarceration period be reviewed for cancellation (this is per Family Code section 4007.5 and this code section has changed quite a bit through the years; thus, different rules apply for different periods of incarceration).

Problem Solution


If you have an open child support case with the Riverside County Department of Child Support Services and are having a problem with your child support case, our office is here to help you. We have resources available to help you with your inquires or complaints. Most inquiries can be resolved quickly and informally.

If you do not have an open child support case with any local child support agency and your child support is processed through the State Disbursement Unit (SDU), an Administrative Review process is available to resolve any issues related to the collection and/or distribution of child support through the SDU. For more information or to file for an Administrative Review contact the SDU at (866) 249-0773 or click here.

An inquiry or dispute is made by custodial parties, noncustodial parents, employers, other agencies and the public prior to the filing of a complaint and must be responded to by our office within three (3) business days. For more information, please click on the Ombudsperson Program link.

An Account Balance Dispute is a dispute regarding the local child support agency’s financial account records including payments, charges, amounts owed to welfare and arrears balance. If you have a dispute regarding your account balances, please click on the Account Balance Disputes link below.

A complaint is an unresolved oral or written inquiry/dispute that is made within 90 days from the date the person knew, or should have known, about the subject of the complaint. For more information on the Complaint Resolution Process or to file a complaint, please click on the Complaint Resolution link.

Our office provides an Ombudsperson who is available to help you resolve issues with your child support case, explain your rights and responsibilities, and tell you the ways you can get child support services. The services are offered free of charge.


The Account Balance Disputes pamphlet is to be used when you believe that the local child support agency’s financial account records including payments, charges, amounts owed to welfare and arrears balance are not correct. The pamphlet describes what information the Riverside Department of Child Support Services needs from you to investigate your concerns. The pamphlet includes an audit request form to use should you continue to have questions after reviewing the payments and charges on your account.

Click here to view and print this pamphlet.

Please return the completed Accounts Balance Dispute pamphlet by mail or in person to the nearest Riverside County Department of Child Support Services office.


Hand Shake

You can file a complaint, orally or in writing, if you are not satisfied with the assistance you are receiving from our office in resolving your child support issues. Only custodial parties or noncustodial parents can file a complaint with our office. Complaints may be about any county Department of Child Support Services or Franchise Tax Board action or inaction except for complaints about court orders, custody or visitation. Complaints must be made within 90 days of when you knew, or should have known, about the problem.

When filing a complaint, you should provide our office with your contact information, the case name and number, and a brief description of your concerns.

Our office will have someone other than the caseworker involved with your complaint investigate and try to resolve your complaint.

If your complaint needs to be resolved in another California county, your complaint will be sent to the right county within five days. Our office must give you a written response to your complaint within 30 days of when we received your complaint.

The investigator will tell us or the Franchise Tax Board what they must do to resolve the issue , if appropriate.

Our office will provide you with written notice of how we addressed your concerns.  Included with that notice will be additional information on how you can request a formal State Hearing should you be dissatisfied by the actions taken. For additional information on the Complaint Resolution Process, or to file a complaint with our office, click here.


The State Hearing is a process where you can have your child support complaint reviewed by an Administrative Law Judge. The Ombudsperson can help you prepare for the State Hearing.

The following types of complaints can be heard at a State Hearing:

  • Your application for child support services has been denied or has not been acted upon within the required timeframe.
  • Your case has been acted upon and you believe the county acted in violation of federal or state law.
  • Child support payments were not disbursed to you or you received the wrong amount. Or, you don’t agree with the past-due amount.
  • The child support agency closed your child support case.
  • You do not get a response from the child support agency within 30 days.
  • You must request a State Hearing within 90 days after you receive the county’s response to your complaint, or within 90 days after you filed your complaint if the county did not respond to you.

The State Hearing will be held in your county within 30 days after the request for a hearing is received by the State Hearing Officer. If needed, translation services and reasonable disability assistance are available to you free of charge. Please inform our office of your needs.

Some issues, regarding actions taken by the court, cannot be heard at a State Hearing:

  • Court-ordered amounts of child support
  • Paternity
  • Child custody or visitation
  • Spousal support
  • Contempt matters
  • Civil rights issues

You may request a State Hearing by calling the State Hearing Office toll free at 1 (866) 289-4714 or by submitting a completed Request for . Happy Thanksgiving to view and print this form. Once complete, please mail it to the State address provided on the form.