Anyone who has a child support and/or medical support order, or wants to establish one, can apply for child support enforcement services by completing an application form. After the application form is signed, the child support process begins. Parents who receive public assistance, including Medi-Cal, will automatically be referred to the San Mateo County DCSS by the Welfare Department. The San Mateo County DCSS will take the following steps to collect support from a obligor parent. (Each step is explained in more detail elsewhere on this site. Click on the link in the step title to review your topic of interest.)
Step 1: Open a Child Support Case
A child support case is opened by San Mateo County DCSS in one of two manners. Either parent, or the caretaker/guardian of a child, may open a child support case by completing an application (see section entitled “Open a Child Support Case” for more details on the application process). San Mateo County DCSS will also open a case for a parent or guardian who is in receipt of public assistance . This type of case will automatically be referred to San Mateo County DCSS if:
- Parties are in receipt of CalWorks or TANF cash grants
- Parties are in receipt of Medi-Cal benefits
- A child has been placed in Foster Care
Upon receipt of the referral from the Human Services Agency, San Mateo County DCSS will determine if a case will be open for the establishment and enforcement of a child support order. The Custodial parent will be sent case opening documents to complete. A parent or guardian who is in receipt of Medi-Cal benefits may also request that San Mateo County DCSS establish and enforce a child support order by indicating so in the forms they complete with the Human Services Agency.
Step 2: Intake Interview
After receiving a completed application, San Mateo County DCSS will open a case within 20 days, and will contact the custodial parent within 10 days to conduct an Intake Interview. The custodial parent may be asked to provide documentation that was not included with the application, such as birth certificates, marriage certificates, tax returns, paystubs, photo identification, etc. In addition, the custodial parent will be asked to provide information about the child(ren) and the obligor parent.
Step 3: Locate a Parent
To get an order for support, establish paternity or enforce a child support order, the San Mateo County DCSS must know where the obligor parent lives or works. The San Mateo County DCSS will make every effort to locate the obligor parent.
Step 4: Establish Paternity
If paternity (fatherhood) has not yet been established, the San Mateo County DCSS will take the necessary steps to establish paternity. (Paternity must be established before child and medical support can be ordered by the court.)
Step 5: Establish a Support Order
If a court order for child support does not already exist and the obligor parent is located, a support order will be sought by the San Mateo County DCSS and established by the court based on both parent's ability to pay support, the amount of time the child spends with each parent, and the financial needs of the child. San Mateo County DCSS will also request that the court require the obligor parent to provide health insurance for the child. The court will order the obligor parent to provide health insurance if it is available through their employer at a reasonable cost.
Step 6: Enforcement of Support Order
San Mateo County DCSS will take steps to enforce court orders for child support and health insurance. Enforcement action will be taken by San Mateo County DCSS if the obligor parent does not pay or pays less than the amount ordered, or if the obligor parent does not provide health insurance for the child as ordered by the court. San Mateo County DCSS will determine what type of enforcement action is to be taken, consistent with state and federal regulations.
Step 7: Modifying a Court Order
The custodial or obligor parent may request that the current support order be reviewed for possible modification to change the amount of support ordered to be paid, or to provide health insurance for the child(ren).
Click on the following link to view a flowchart of the child support process: Child Support Case Process