Why is your unit establishing an order for child support against me?

Depending on specific case circumstances, it could be either of the following reasons:
The other parent/children are receiving public assistance from the County of San Mateo, and the welfare office is required to make a referral to this office to establish or enforce an order for child support on behalf of the child/children.

The other parent, caretaker or state in which the custodial parent resides has requested our services.

I already have a support order. Why did I receive these papers?

Case Opening documentation is sent on all cases at the time of case opening. The Notice of Child Support Services Program explains that all child support payments are to be made payable to the Statewide Disbursement Unit (SDU).

If you already have a support order, all future payments should be made directly to the SDU because the Custodial Parent is receiving public assistance or has requested non-welfare child support services through San Mateo County DCSS.

What amount of support am I going to pay? Is there a set percentage per child I will have to pay?

Child support is determined using guidelines established by California law. Child support guidelines are based on each parent’s monthly income and the amount of time the child is cared for by each parent.
The California Guideline Child Support Calculator can be used to estimate the amount of child support that may be ordered in your case.

How did you arrive at the past due amount for this order?

Your support obligation is valid as of the filing date of the order. In some instances, your support obligation will have a retroactive beginning date that is from the summons and complaint or from the date that you were served with the motion for child support. These dates are often several months prior to the filing date of the actual order and past due support will be due once the accounts are created on your case.

If San Mateo County DCSS is enforcing an existing order, the past due amount is based on the Declaration of Support Payment History that is completed by custodial parent. The obligor parent will receive a copy of this Declaration of Support Payment History and a demand letter explaining how DCSS arrived at the past due amount for the order.

What expenses are included in the calculation of the child support amount?

The California Statutory Guidelines only allows hardships, e.g. other children in the home or for whom you are paying support, medical insurance, retirements, mortgage interest, property tax, etc.  To see a more comprehensive list visit California Guideline Child Support Calculator.

Will you use my spouse’s income when determining how much support I must pay?

No, we will only be using your income. Your spouse is not a party to this action and has no legal obligation to support the child.  Your spouse’s earnings information may be required to assess your complete financial situation.

When am I supposed to start making payments? Where do I send the money?

You will receive a copy of the Judicial Order establishing child support. It will have a date by which the first payment is due. If you are employed, an Income Withholding Order will be generated and sent to your employer. However, you are responsible to make sure the payments are sent prior to the due date to the State Disbursement Unit (SDU) address:

P.O. Box 989067
West Sacramento, CA 95798

For details about other payment options go to here or call 1-866-901-3212

Why/How can the custodial parent be eligible to receive welfare/medical?

The San Mateo County DCSS does not determine welfare eligibility. You may contact a Human Services Agency for eligibility information.

Do I have to retain an attorney?

You can represent yourself, or you can retain legal counsel. The choice is yours.

Why are you using higher income than minimum wage or my wages when determining my child support amount?

The order is based on the information we had on hand (Income and Expense verification); previous employment history; information from our data sources; information from the custodial parent; or your ability to earn at least minimum wage.

Does the fact that I’m not working mean that I won’t have to pay child support?

No. Every parent must contribute to the support of his/her children by law.

Why is his/her welfare grant “exempt” when determining income?

Federal regulations have determined that any income from means tested, TANF/medical, programs would be considered “exempt”.

Why are you obtaining a medical insurance order against me when I already carry my children on my medical insurance plan?

Federal regulations state we must obtain an order requiring medical insurance coverage for the children when establishing a child support order. If you are already carrying the children on your medical insurance plan, please provide the insurance information to our office.

My parental rights have been terminated why are you still going after child support from me?

Upon termination of parental rights, a current child support obligation ceases. You need to send a copy of the Termination of Parental Rights Order to our office. You will still be responsible for paying any past due support.

Will I have to pay for the genetic testing? How much does it cost?

Genetic testing will be provided at no cost to either parent. The cost is absorbed by the state. Genetic testing is reserved for cases where we are establishing paternity or when it is court ordered.

The amount of my total obligation as stated on my bill is considerably higher than that shown on previous bills and notices. Why is that?

One reason your bill appears higher is that all obligations under all court orders you may have are consolidated on your bill into a total overall balance. If you look closely at your bill you can see the individual court order amounts and the total obligation amount is the sum of all obligations. Another reason for the difference may be due to the addition of interest to your arrearage. You will find a column on your bill that identifies the interest amount added to your account. The child support system automatically adds interest to all unpaid balances that are carried over from the previous months.

Why are you adding interest?

Under California law (California Code of Civil Procedure Sections 685.010 and 685.020) federal and state regulations, we add interest to all outstanding balances. With automation, the system computes interest automatically.

How is interest figured on my account balance?

Interest on California child support orders will be charged a rate of 10%.  Interest is charged on a monthly basis on all unpaid balances.  The monthly interest charges will be reflected on your billing statement.  

I understand about interest, but I still disagree with the amount you say I owe. Will you provide me with a breakdown of payments and interest?

We will provide you with a copy of the financial history detailing your payments and our billing history at your request. Please be sure to include your complete address with your request.

Can you explain the license suspension process to me?

If a parent is more than 30 days delinquent in their payment of support, the parent’s name and date of birth are reported to all state licensing agencies for license suspension or denial. This includes driver’s licenses and professional licenses such as: teacher, contractor, truck driver, attorney, doctor, realtor, or cosmetologist.

The licensing agency has the duty to notify the parent of the suspension or denial. The notice will indicate which agency is reporting the parent as delinquent in paying child support. A parent who receives notice that his or her license is subject to suspension or denial, because of child support arrears, may contact the Department of Child Support Services.  

We will attempt to negotiate a payment plan in return for the release of the license. Additionally, if the parent is unable to reach an agreement with us, he or she may take the issue before a judge for a review of the case by filing a proper motion before the court.

How is it possible that I am delinquent when I have always paid by wage assignment?

There are several possible reasons. For example, once a court order is entered and until the wage assignment is implemented, the obligor parent must take responsibility for remitting the court ordered support payments. There may be a delay between an employer receiving the wage assignment and when it is received at the Statewide Disbursement Unit for processing. It is also possible that the payroll department has not withheld the total support amount due each month. Some employers can pro-rate the wage assignment deductions over the period of one year, so depending on how many weeks in each month, the child support remitted may not satisfy the court order. Also, national company payroll departments can be in another state, causing additional delays in processing.

My name was reported to the credit bureau as having overdue child support. How can I dispute this?

Once a child support account is established, a 30-day notice is sent to the obligor parent advising that the account will be reported to credit bureaus in 30 days. If the obligor parent disputes the initial reporting, they must notify San Mateo County DCSS and provide supporting documentation.

Once an account has actually being reported to credit bureaus, and the obligor parent is disputing it, the obligor parent must contact his/her credit bureau (Equifax, Experian, TransUnion) in order to file a Consumer Dispute Verification. The credit-reporting agency will forward the form to the San Mateo County DCSS. We will promptly review the account to ensure accuracy and respond directly to the credit bureau.

What is a Release of Lien?

A Release of Lien is generally requested, by the obligor parent or the title companies, in order to buy, sell, or refinance property. In general, liens will only be released in two situations:

  1. When we have information that all the children involved in a case are emancipated and all amounts required to be paid under all the orders in the case have been paid in full.
  2. When requested to do so by an obligor parent or a title company due to real estate transactions after all amounts due and payable at that time have been paid in full.
How did I get a Lien on my house?

When there is an order for child support a lien is recorded in every county where it is believed the obligor parent may own property. Federal regulations mandate that a lien be recorded in all child support cases where there is a monetary order.

Note: If it is an out of state order, a lien will may also be recorded.

Can a lien be transferred?

We do not transfer liens. Liens are recorded in every county where the San Mateo County DCSS knows or has reason to believe the obligor parent owns property.

I am trying to sell my house. Can San Mateo County DCSS do a release of lien?

A Request for Demand can be faxed to (650) 549-1971. Upon receipt of the written Request for Demand, the case will be evaluated and a release will be done (if account is current) or a Demand Letter will be sent to Title Company if the account is in arrears.

I don’t understand why I need a Release of Lien; I am current in my child support payments.

Federal regulations mandate that a lien be recorded in all child support cases where there is a monetary order. Therefore, a Release of Lien will be necessary if an obligor attempts to refinance or sell property in the county where a lien is in place.

Can I pay off part of the balance and set up a payment plan to get the release?

No. A Release of Lien is only generated if the past due support is paid in full.

I received a Notice that my Federal Tax refund is being taken to pay child support. Why?

Your case fit the criteria for offset and was submitted to the IRS as owing past due support. The submission is done weekly. The criteria for submission is as follows:

  • Active IV-D case
  • No or good cause
  • Must have or have had a valid court order.
  • Social Security number is verified
  • Balance at the end of the previous month must be greater than or equal to $25

Once a year an obligor parent will receive a Child Support Warning Notice (CSWN) indicating that DCSS will use any collection method authorized under state or federal law, including, but not limited to, Federal and State Tax refunds, etc

My case is paid off. Why did I get this Child Support Warning Notice (CSWN)?

Your case fit the criteria for offset and federal submission and certification requirements. The system will automatically de-certify when the balance reaches zero. The obligor parent will not receive a notice if the case decertifies. Submissions are generated weekly; therefore any changes to a case balance will be submitted in the following week’s submission. If the case is decertified on time, you will not be offset. If the amount of the offset is modified, then no more than that amount will be taken. If the tax offset is received by the San Mateo County DCSS and there is no balance owing, it will be refunded to you upon receipt.

How do I contest this notice?

If you, or in the case of a joint return, your spouse, disagree with any of the actions to be taken, you may request a review. You may provide an explanation in writing to the San Mateo County DCSS or submit proof to us as to why this action should not be taken. Some possible reasons why you may disagree are:

  • No support judgment has been entered against you;
  • The support amount(s) shown as past due is incorrect

You may also petition the superior court to stop this action and determine if the past due amount shown is correct.

The tax refund belongs to my spouse. How can my spouse get it back?

The obligor parent' spouse needs to contact the IRS directly. They will have to prepare an Injured Spouse Claim and Allocation form (form 8379) with his/her tax return. If he/she has already filed, he/she will still have to send in the claim to the IRS. The San Mateo County DCSS does not supply those forms. They need to consult the IRS, or their tax preparer, for a copy.

Note: This form (8379) only applies to Federal taxes…not State taxes.

I filed an Injured Spouse Form.  When will my spouse’s income tax be refunded?

It depends on when the form was filed, with the tax return or after.

  • If the form was filed with the tax return, call the IRS. The IRS will split out the spouse’s portion and send it to the spouse, not to the San Mateo County DCSS.
  • If the form was filed after the tax return was filed, send a written request to us for a review of the offset status.
Why did you take my whole refund? I don’t owe that much.

If the offset has been applied and it overpaid the case, a refund of the difference will be sent to you.

You are taking a portion of my unemployment benefits or disability benefits to pay my child support. Why is my driver’s license suspended?

The full child support obligation must be paid in full each and every month. DCSS intercepts 25% of the benefit to satisfy your obligation. If this amount does not satisfy the monthly obligation, then you are considered delinquent for the month. In which case, your driver’s license will be submitted for suspension or revocation.
You have the right to request a review and adjustment to have your child support obligation modified. Contact San Mateo County DCSS for more information 866-901-3212 or review Modifying Support Orders.

Does DCSS represent either parent?

The DCSS does not represent either 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 attorney/client privilege. Parents have the right to seek legal advice from a private attorney or legal aid group at their own expense, or the county family law facilitator.