To get an order for child support, you must first file a case with the Court. If you do not have an existing case, you need to file one.
- If you ARE MARRIED to the other parent, you can file an action for divorce or legal separation. If you do not want to file for divorce or legal separation, you can file a Petition for Custody and Support of Minor Children and Summons.
- If you are NOT MARRIED to the other parent, you must file a parentage action. This means you are asking the Court to name the other parent. You may request child support, custody, and visitation orders at the same time.
- If you are seeking a Domestic Violence restraining order and need child support, click here.
- For additional information, please contact the Alameda County Department of Child Support Services (ACDCSS), they may be able to file a child support case on your behalf. Click here for more information on ACDCSS.
Here are ways you can ask the Court for an order:
- Ask a lawyer to help you.
- You can find a lawyer in the telephone book, online, or contact the Lawyer Referral Service of the Alameda County Bar Association.
- Contact the Department of Child Support Services (ACDCSS) at: http://www.acgov.org/css/·
- Do it yourself:
You can use self-help family law books, the Alameda County Superior Court local rules for family law , and legal forms from book stores, stationery stores, or printing companies. Additionally, downloadable Family Law forms are available from the Judicial Council's website and the Court's website.
- Contact the court's Self Help Center/Family Law Facilitator:
You can get assistance in preparing papers to obtain a court hearing. If you and the other parent agree on the amount of child support to be paid, the Family Law Facilitator may be able to help you with how to file that agreement. More information about the court's Self-Help Center is available here.
- Contact a Legal Document Preparer:
You can find a Legal Document Preparer in the telephone book or online. They are not attorneys and cannot represent you in court, however they can prepare your legal documents.
This section tells you about:
- What is and when to use an Order to Show Cause (OSC)
- Forms you will need
- How to fill out and file the OSC forms
- Other things you should know
What is and when to use an Order to Show Cause (OSC) or a Notice of Motion
When you file your divorce, legal separation or parentage case, you may also file a motion called an Order to Show Cause (OSC) to obtain temporary orders for custody, visitation, and support. An Order to Show Cause is a court order for the other party in your case to come to court. A Notice of Motion may be filed after a case has begun. A Notice of Motion may be served by mail. For more information, please contact the Family Law Facilitator's Office.
You can file an OSC to:
- Ask for temporary child orders when you first file your parentage, divorce, or legal separation case;
- Request child support orders in an existing case;
- Ask for a change to your current orders; or
- Ask to cancel ("set aside") a default judgment (a judgment that was made when you didn't respond to legal papers or appear in court) in a Department of Child Support Services child support case. If the Court sets aside the judgment, the Court will determine what you owe for current and past child support ("arrearages").
Forms you will need: If you are the person filing the Order To Show Cause (the "moving party"), you must fill out these forms:
- Order to Show Cause (Form FL-300)
- Application for Order and Supporting Declaration (Form FL-310)
- Financial Statement (Simplified) or Use if you are only asking for child support (Form FL-155)
- Income and Expense Declaration Use if you are also asking for spousal support or attorney fees: (Form FL-150)
You will also need the following forms for serving these documents on your spouse:
- Proof of Personal Service (Form FL-330)
- Responsive Declaration To Order To Show Cause Or Notice Of Motion (Form FL-320)
- A blank Simplified Financial Statement (Form FL-155) or
- A blank Income and Expense Declaration (Form FL-150)
There are two ways to fill out your own forms:
- Print the form on a printer, then print neatly in blue or black ink; or
- Fill out the form online using the links above, and print the filled-out form
How to Fill Out, File and Serve the OSC Forms:
Step 1: Fill out the forms:
If you have an existing case, no matter how old, use the same case title. After you fill out your forms, make 3 copies (for you, the other party, and one extra).
Step 2: File the forms:
Take your completed forms to your local court Clerk’s Office and ask for a hearing date. They will file your papers. You will be expected to pay a filing fee if you do not have a current fee waiver on file.
Step 3: Serve the documents:
You must serve the other parent with endorsed filed copies of the court forms at least 21 days before your hearing or sooner if the judge says so. Someone at least 18 years of age — not you — must serve the other parent.
If the Department of Child Support Services is collecting child support, someone at least 18 years of age — not you — must serve the documents.
These are the forms you must serve:
- Your Order To Show Cause
- Your Application for Order and Supporting Declaration
- Your Simplified Financial Statement or Income and Expense Declaration
- A blank Responsive Declaration
- A blank Simplified Financial Statement or Income and Expense Declaration
Remember: You cannot serve the papers yourself.
Your papers must be served by an adult (18 years of age or older) who is not involved in your case. Alternatively, you may hire a professional process server to serve your papers.
The person who serves the papers must complete a "Proof of Personal Service" (form FL-330). The proof of service says he or she delivered the papers to the other party.
Step 4: File the Proof of Service:
File the original proof of service at the local court Clerk’s Office as soon as possible. This should be done before your hearing. Bring an endorsed filed copy of the proof of service to your hearing. If you can't file the proof of service before the hearing, bring the original to your hearing.
Step 5: Go to your hearing:
Arrive at the courthouse early so you will have time to find the courtroom. Look for your name on the court calendar, usually posted near the courtroom door. Make sure your case is listed on the calendar. If it is not listed, and your papers state the correct date and time, show your papers to the clerk in the courtroom.
Remember: Bring copies of all the papers in your case (especially the ones you filed to set this court hearing), your copy of the filed proof of service, and any other papers that support your case, such as pay stubs for the past three months, tax returns for the previous year, child care receipts, and anything else that supports the information in your Simplified Financial Statement or Income and Expense Declaration forms. If you are self-employed, bring papers that show how much money your business is making.
If you have witnesses, you must make arrangements to ensure they come to court as well.
Step 6: After the hearing:
You are responsible for preparing a written order that states what the judge ordered at the hearing. You may come to the court's Self-Help Center/Family Law Facilitator’s Office for information on how to prepare the order, or you may contact an attorney or legal document preparer for assistance.
Other things you should know
Amount of Child Support:
The judge will follow the child support laws ("guidelines") to determine the amount child support to be ordered.
When you ask for child support, the judge can make orders about your child(ren)'s health insurance (this includes vision and dental) and how the parents share the health care costs not covered by insurance.
When you request child support, you may also ask the other parent to share in child care costs.
Child Support Payments
Child support is usually paid from a parent's paycheck ("withholding"). To do this, you must file an Order/Notice to Withhold Income for Child Support (FL-195). Employers cannot fire employees because child support comes out of their paycheck.
For assistance, you may visit a lawyer, a legal document preparer, or the court's Self-Help Center/Family Law Facilitator.
If you want to ask the judge to change the child support (raise or lower the amount), you need to file the correct court forms in your court case. It does not matter how old your case is. You must show that circumstances have changed since the last order.
To change the amount of support, you can:
- Contact a lawyer;
- Contact a legal document preparer;
- Ask the Alameda County Department of Child Support Services (ACDCSS) to help you;
- Do it yourself. You can use a self-help book or legal forms and instructions that explain how to file an Order to Show Cause to change child support. These forms are available on the Judicial Council's web site and the Court's web site.
- Contact the court's Self-Help Center/Family Law Facilitator. They can help you with information and forms on how to write the agreement if you and the other parent agree or think you can agree on the amount of child support. They cannot help with an agreement if the Department of Child Support Services is collecting child support on your behalf.
If you do not pay court-ordered child support, your license can be suspended. To get your license back, contact the Department of Child Support Services. If that does not work, ask the judge to order the Department of Child Support Services to give you your license back. To do this, file a "Notice of Motion for Judicial Review of License Denial" (Form FL-670). Filing this form does NOT change how much child support you must pay. To change your support order, file an Order to Show Cause.
Information on how to file your Notice of Motion for Judicial Review of License Denial:
- Complete the "Notice of Motion for Judicial Review of License Denial" form (Form FL-670). Use the same case number and case title as your child support case. You and the other parent will always be called Petitioner or Respondent as you were in the first papers filed.
- Make two copies of your form (one for you, the other for the Department of Child Support Services). The original is for the court file.
- Go to the nearest court clerk’s office and request a hearing date. At the hearing, you may tell the judge why you should get your license back. A filing fee will be charged unless you have a current fee waiver on file with the court. You can review the court’s fee schedule to see how much you will have to pay. If you do not have enough money to pay the filing fee, and do not have a current fee waiver on file, ask the clerk for an Application for a Fee Waiver packet.
- Serve the papers - Serve the papers on the Alameda County Department of Child Support Services (ACDCSS)
- Get ready for your hearing - On the date of your hearing, you may need to wait in the courtroom for your case to be called. DO NOT bring children to the courtroom. If you need assistance with childcare, please click here for more information on the court's Children's Waiting Rooms.
Will my spouse's income be counted toward child support?
The Court usually uses only the parents' incomes to calculate child support. The Court may ask about your spouse's income for tax or other purposes.
How do I stop my employer from taking child support out of my paycheck when my child support obligation ends?
You must file an Order To Show Cause to ask the Court to stop taking money out of your paycheck. If approved, the judge will sign a new wage withholding order for $0. You may take this signed order to your employer. You may want to work with the other parent or guardian to work out an agreement. Once an agreement is reached, you may file a Stipulation and Order with a new wage assignment indicating a $0.00 child support obligation.
Do I still need to pay child support if I have 50/50 custody?
If you make more money than the other parent, you may still need to pay some child support.
Will the Court consider that I have other children to support?
The Court can give you credit for other child support orders and for other children in your home that you support. The Court usually does not give credit for stepchildren, or grandchildren.
Will I pay less child support if I have custody of the child(ren) more often?
The amount of time that the children are with you is a factor in calculating child support.
How long do I have to pay child support?
You will pay until the child is 18 years old, if he or she graduates from high school. If your 18-year-old child is still a full time high school student and still lives with the other parent, you must pay child support until your child graduates.
Do I need to pay the interest on past due child support?
Usually, the Court cannot reduce or cancel interest on past due child support. Speak with a lawyer for more information.
How do I stop my employer from taking half my paycheck?
If your employer is deducting 50% or more of your paycheck, you may have an arrears (past due child support) balance. First, contact the Alameda County Department of Child Support Services (ACDCSS) to see if you can make other arrangements. If that does not work, you may file court forms to request a judge to set a payment that you can afford.
What if the other party does not pay the child support?