Parents & Relatives

Any parent or guardian who pays or receives child support, whether or not he/she receives public assistance, can benefit from the information on this web site. This section, Parents and Relatives, provides information about:


Services Provided

Our county has four different offices to better serve our community. We provide a variety of child support services to custodial and noncustodial parents; helping parents fulfill their responsibilities to their child(ren).

Our office provides the following services:

  • Establishing paternity (fatherhood)
  • Locating parents
  • Requesting child support orders from the court
  • Requesting medical support orders from the court
  • Enforcing child and spousal support orders
  • Modifying child support orders
  • Collecting and sending child support

Services Not Provided

Our office does not:

  • Handle custody or visitation matters
  • Handle divorces
  • Obtain or enforce restraining orders
  • Establish spousal support orders

Your Legal Relationship with Our Office

Our office does not represent either the parent or the child(ren), and its attorneys are not your attorneys. Because you are not a legal client, the information you provide is not confidential under the client/attorney privilege. The information in your case may be discussed or disclosed to other public agencies that are authorized by law to receive such information, the other parent’s employer, and to the other parent or his/her attorney to the extent required by law.

By law, our office has the final decision on what child support enforcement actions will be taken, even if the custodial parent disagrees. Parents have the right to seek legal advice from a private attorney or legal aid group at their own expense at any time. 

Our county also offers Family Law Facilitators through the Family Law Assistance Center which provides you with information and help in preparing forms.


Legal Assistance Options

In addition to our offices, Family Law Assistance Centers, private attorneys, and legal clinics can provide legal assistance in child support cases.

Family Law Facilitators

The Family Law Assistance Center offers Family Law Facilitators to help parents and any other parties who have questions about family law issues including child support, spousal support, health insurance, and the availability of community resources to help families. A Family Law Facilitator can give you general information and help you prepare your own forms. Family Law Facilitator services are provided free of charge and are not connected with the Department of Child Support Services.

The Family Law Facilitator is not your lawyer, cannot go to court with you, and is not responsible for the outcome of your case. He/she is a neutral person who does not represent any party; therefore, he/she may provide information and services to the other party in your case. Since there is no attorney-client relationship between you and the Family Law Facilitator, communications are not confidential. You should consult with your own attorney if you want personalized advice or strategy, confidential conversation, or attorney representation in court.

Click here for more information about the Family Law Assistance Center including services offered, locations, phone numbers, and business hours.

Private Attorneys

A private attorney can provide personalized services to parents. They can give as much time to a case as is necessary to do an effective job. The biggest drawback is expense. A private attorney will charge for the time required for personal interviews, telephone calls, legal research, court appearances, and the preparation of pleadings. If the custodial parent cannot afford an attorney, the noncustodial parent may be ordered to pay reasonable attorney fees and court costs. However, it is up to the judge to decide how much, if any, of the legal fees the noncustodial parent may be ordered to pay.

If, at any time, you retain a private attorney to enforce or modify the child support obligation, you must notify this office immediately and serve us a copy of any action to modify, and also within 15 calendar days of its issuance, a copy of the new order. We will not duplicate efforts or enforcement actions on your behalf. You must notify us in writing of your intent to file an enforcement action 30 days prior to doing so and we must either notify you in writing in 30 days after receiving your notice of our consent or objection to that action. We will not object unless we are engaging in an on-going enforcement action or investigation. You must notify us within 10 days of any change in custody, whether permanent or temporary.

Legal Clinics

Services offered by a legal clinic may cost less than those provided by a private attorney. Legal clinics may charge for services based on the actual time spent on a case or on a contingency fee basis.

For more information about these services, look in the telephone book yellow pages under legal clinics or Legal Services, Attorneys (specializing in divorces, adoptions and family law) or under Attorney Referral Services.


Responsibilities of Custodial Parents

Due to the volume of cases, it is important that you as the custodial parent seeking our services cooperate with us as a partner in working your case. It is the responsibility of the custodial parent to notify this office, in writing, if the minor child becomes emancipated or marries, or if the other parent or another person has or obtains custody of the child. Address changes should be reported promptly.

You will be asked to fill out certain documents. Many of these must be signed under penalty of perjury. You must answer the questions on the forms truthfully. The decision to take legal action is based on the information that you provide. You may be prosecuted for perjury if you fill out these documents falsely.

This office reserves the right to take any appropriate legal action against a party who does not pay child support. Such actions may include contempt orders or arrest.

Whether or not the family is receiving public assistance, our office has the legal responsibility and discretion to determine what court or enforcement techniques are to be used, not the custodial parent. Our office needs the cooperation of the custodial parent in providing complete, accurate, and up-to-date information in order to do the best job. Those cases with complete information will have a higher chance of success in collecting support.

Failure of the custodial parent not receiving public assistance to cooperate in these actions and to sign all necessary legal documents may result in closure of the case.


The Summons and Complaint

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:

  • Information about the child's birth and paternity,
  • 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 are delivered to the parent from whom child support is sought. This is done within 90 days of locating the parent and is called "service of process".

The person served a Summons and Complaint must fill out and file the Answer 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.

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


The Proposed Judgment

Together with a Summons and Complaint, our office will serve the other person (usually the noncustodial parent) with a Proposed Judgment. This Proposed Judgment becomes the final order of the court if the other person does not respond.


The Answer

If the noncustodial parent files an answer (Response), he/she has the right to a court hearing. The noncustodial parent also has the right to have the court determine how much support he/she will have to pay. If the noncustodial parent denies that he is the father of the child(ren), he has the right to request genetic tests to determine if he really is the father.


Wage & Health Insurance Assignments

All orders for child support must include a wage and earnings assignment requiring the noncustodial parent’s employer to deduct support payments from the noncustodial parent’s salary or wages. An order to deduct health insurance premiums for the child(ren) may also be ordered.

If you are the non-custodial parent or parent ordered to pay support, please click on the About Your Child Support Order hyperlink. You will be navigated to an informational flyer that provides important information about wage withholdings, support payments, and your responsibility.


Modification of Child Support Orders

Either parent can request our office to review his/her case for modification. The amount of the child support order may be modified by increasing or decreasing the order or by requiring the noncustodial parent to provide health insurance for the child(ren). Based on financial and other information that both the custodial parent and noncustodial parent must provide, our office will determine if a modification for a higher or lower amount is justified. Both parents will be informed of our decision.

If the custodial parent allows the child(ren) to visit or live with the noncustodial parent on a long term or permanent basis, the noncustodial parent may request that the order be modified. He/she should also contact our office to discuss the situation, as long as there is a current support order requiring the noncustodial parent to pay support.

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 by submitting a completed Inmate Modification Request with attachments to our office. If you have any questions regarding this request, please contact our office.


Ombudsperson Program

The Ombudsperson program is the person, persons, or office chosen within each local child support agency to help resolve customer inquiries/disputes related to child support services. The Ombudsperson will respond to your inquiry/dispute from custodial parties, noncustodial parents, employers, other agencies and the public within three (3) business days. The Ombudsperson’s responsibilities are:

  • To help you resolve child support inquiries/disputes or make recommendations to solve them prior to filing a complaint.
  • To assist you in understanding the compliant process before, during, and after the complaint is filed.
  • To assist you in preparing for a State Hearing.

You may contact the Ombudsperson as follows:

Riverside County Department of Child Support Services
P.O. BOX 52350
Riverside, CA 92517
Toll Free: (877) 930-2700
Fax: (951) 955-5915


To submit an Inquiry/Dispute and/or Account Balance Dispute with the Ombudsperson, or to request formal complaint resolution, click here.

The Ombudsperson cannot be your representative and will not give you legal advice. For assistance with legal issues, please see the Family Law Facilitator section on our website.

You can also refer to the California Department of Child Support Services website for statewide complaint resolution information.


Problem Resolution

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.

If you would like to learn more about these services, please choose from one of the following options:


Account Balance Disputes

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 in order to investigate your issue(s) and also includes an audit request form once you have reviewed 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.


Complaint Resolution

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 the issue you want resolved.

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 send a written notice to you with information on your rights to a State Hearing if you are not satisfied with how we resolved your complaint.

For additional information on the Complaint Resolution Process, or to file a complaint with our office, click here.


State Hearings

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 State Hearing form. Click here to view and print this form. Once complete, please mail it to the State address provided on the form.

 

If this page is being translated by "Google Translate", readers relying on precise information should check the original English version.