Either parent can file a complaint with the court asking for child support.  In Welfare cases, the San Mateo County DCSS will automatically file the complaint and the court order will be made payable to the county (to reimburse welfare benefits paid to the custodial parent).  If the location of the obligor parent is known, support orders can usually be obtained within 90 days.  In non welfare cases, the San Mateo County DCSS will file the complaint for child support and health insurance if the custodial parent does not already have a court order.

A child support order is established based on both parent's ability to pay support, the amount of time each parent spends with the child, and the financial needs of the children.  The San Mateo County DCSS and the court will follow the child support guidelines established by state law in Family Code Section 4055.  This state law provides a standard formula for determining child support, although the court may change the amount under specific circumstances.

Medical Support

The San Mateo County DCSS will ask the court to require the obligor parent to provide health insurance coverage, including vision and dental care, for the children.  The court will order the obligor parent to maintain health coverage for the children, if it is available at reasonable cost.  In most cases, the cost is considered reasonable if the coverage is employment-related group health insurance or other group health insurance.  If coverage is not available at a reasonable cost, the court's order for support will state that the parent will obtain health insurance coverage if it becomes available at a reasonable cost.

The Process

Once the San Mateo County DCSS files a complaint, the paperwork is sent to a process server to have the complaint served on the obligor parent.  After the obligor parent is served, she/he will have 30 or 40 days to respond to the Complaint by filing an “Answer”.  Once the answer is filed a hearing before the court will be scheduled to discuss the order being requested.  The custodial parent and obligor parent are required to attend a mandatory meet and confer conference an hour prior to the court hearing at the San Mateo County DCSS office. If the parties are not able to reach a stipulated agreement during the meet and confer conference, the parties will attend the hearing.  At the hearing the commissioner will have the final decision regarding the issues raised in the Complaint.  Should the obligor parent not respond to the Complaint within the 30/40 days, a request will be made to the court to establish an order by default as the obligor parent has not responded to the Complaint.  Finally, the obligor parent may choose to sign a stipulation wherein there is agreement to what is being asked for in the complaint.  Any one of these actions will result in a court order that will be monitored and enforced by San Mateo County DCSS.

Once a court order has been obtained, it is the responsibility of the obligor parent to send all payments to the State Disbursement Unit (SDU) PO Box 989067, West Sacramento CA, 957898-9067 until a wage garnishment is in place.