Should I Stay or Should I Go? Child Support In DCSS and California Family Courts

Posted by Adrian S. Doty, Esq. | Jul 23, 2019 | 0 Comments

If you have a child, or children in California, and you are involved in either a paternity or dissolution action, one of the more common items litigated is child custody and visitation. Like anything, child custody and visitation does not have to be litigated, but in the absence of an agreement, such matters usually are discussed before the Court. When child custody and visitation are being litigated, the companion motion that is usually filed either separately or at the same time is a motion for child support.

The reason that this occurs that child custody and child support linked. Meaning that the amount of support a party pays directly. Attributable to the amount of time they spend with the child or children. And their amount of monthly income. Unlike determinations of child custody and visitation, which must be adjudicated before the Family Court, child support can be litigated in either the Family Court or in the Department of Child Support Services (“DCSS”). Under California law, DCSS is the agency that handles among other things. Establishing and maintaining support orders. And collecting and processing child support payments.

Family Court Judge assigned to their case and leery of entering

Determining what forum to litigate in for child support can at times be a complex question. A party may have addressed many matters involving. Their case with their Family Court Judge assigned to their case and leery of entering. A new department with a new judicial officer who does not have. The background and familiarity with their case. But, often, either because a party will not pay. Cannot pay, or is paying on a child support order. A party will want to engage the help of DCSS in enforcing the order. Similarly, in some cases. Both parties elect to have the child support monitored, collected, and enforced. By DCSS in order that a concrete record of payments exists for both sides.

DCSS does an excellent job enforcing Court order

With regard to DCSS, it is also relevant to note that as a state agency, they have the power to take a number of actions with regard to non-paying parties who owe child support, including, but not limited to a wage assignment, and suspension of driver's licenses. While DCSS does an excellent job enforcing Court orders and entering child support orders, a party who is in Family Court, but then elects to have DCSS handle this aspect of their case may find that the decision has other consequences. For example, by electing to proceed in a second forum. Additional costs will imposed on both sides by having to litigate in a new Court, and at times. Additional delays may occur.

Custody orders or is seeking a modification

A common problem in this respect is that a party. Who either has temporary custody orders or is seeking a modification. Of such orders may see the DCSS action continued. Until final custody orders entered either in the action or on the motion before the Family Court. While child support retroactive to the date of the filing of the motion at DCSS. There can delays in collecting the support while the matter litigated in both forums. Correspondingly, a party who has the option to choose between whether the support question is litigated in Family Court, or DCSS should consider all of the relevant facts in their case before making a decision on which forum they want to proceed in.


If you have questions about child support, don't just trust what advice you receive from family and friends, or the internet, but contact an attorney who can guide you between what is real – and what is a dead end. Contact our office today with any child support questions you may have.

About the Author

Adrian S. Doty, Esq.

Adrian Doty is a Senior Associate Attorney at Sunnen Law. Mr. Doty began his legal career working as a civil litigation attorney in Los Angeles before moving to the Bay Area in 2014 where he gained complex civil and family law litigation experience working for one of the largest family law firms.He has experience with a variety of complex Family Law matters, including complex and high-net-worth case matters custody and visitation disputes, contempt and post-judgment enforcement, military-family law issues, and domestic violence restraining orders. Mr. Doty understands how emotionally difficult family law matters can be, which is why he is dedicated to the efficient management of his client's cases. While he always works to achieve settlements through negotiation when possible, he aggressively litigates to protect his clients' interests when necessary. 


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