Family Support Division

Child Support

Child support is the amount of money the court orders a parent to pay each month for the support of a minor child or children. California has a formula called "Guideline Child Support" for calculating child support

Before the court can make an order for child support, there must be an open court case and parentage must be established.

Some types of cases where child support may be ordered include, but are not limited to:

  • Divorce, legal separation, or annulment
  • Establishment of Parentage
  • Domestic violence

Parents who have signed a Voluntary Declaration of Parentage (also known as a "POP" declaration) or who are married or registered domestic partners and don't want a divorce, legal separation, or nullity, may file a Petition for Custody and Support (JC Form #FL-260) to ask for child support.

If the Department of Child Support Services has opened a case to establish parentage and/or child support against an absent parent, a child support commissioner may order child support in those cases. These are typically referred to as Family Support Division cases, "IV-D" cases, or governmental child support cases.

Child support payments usually end when children turn 18, or 19 if they are still in high school full time living at home with a parent and cannot support themselves. Parents may agree to support a child longer. The court may also order that both parents continue to support a disabled adult child that is not self-supporting.

Learn more about getting your first support order.

Either parent can later ask the judge to change the amount of support if the financial situation of the parents changes. Please refer to these forms and instructions to help you change a support order.

Family Support Division (Governmental Child Support)

The Family Support Division (FSD) hears all actions filed by the Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) regarding support, support enforcement, medical insurance and parentage. The FSD also hears support issues in family law cases in which the DCSS is providing enforcement services.

The FSD does not hear matters regarding divorce, custody, visitation, restraining orders, or property issues. These issues must be heard at one of the family law locations.

All paperwork in FSD cases may be filed at the Family Support Division located at:

San Diego Central Courthouse
1100 Union Street, 4th floor, Room 450
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 844-2799

Business office hours are 8:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. Monday – Friday, except court holidays.

If your child support case has been assigned to the North County Regional Center (Vista courthouse), it will be heard in Department NC-3. Documents relating to child support cases in North County may be filed in the North County Family Law/Civil Business Office located at:

North County Regional Center
325 South Melrose Dr.
Vista, California 92081
(760) 201-8600

In order to obtain copies from an FSD case, you may come to the Central Courthouse in person or send a written request to the address listed above. Please include the following in your request: Superior Court case number, the parties’ names, documents you wish to have copied, check or money order made payable to “Clerk of the Court” and a self-addressed envelope with sufficient postage. There is an additional charge for certified copies (see Domestic Fee Schedule for certification and copy fees). Documents in imaged cases are available for purchase on the Register of Actions (Family), or at a Family Law Business Office.  Some exclusions may apply.  

Paperwork filed relating to the child support issues in FSD cases are not charged fees. Filing fees are required for filings at other family law locations that relate to child custody and visitation. If you cannot afford to pay the required fee, you may request a fee waiver. The following forms are needed to apply for a fee waiver:

The imaged case is the official record of the court. All pleadings and documents including all original documents attached to pleadings filed with the court will be destroyed. Original documents, other than pleadings should be lodged with the court pursuant to California Rules of Court, rule 3.1302(b). The electronic copy of the filed document(s) is the official court record pursuant to Government Code section 68150. The paper filings will be imaged and held for 30 days. After that time, they will be destroyed and recycled. Thus, you should not attach any original documents to pleadings filed with the San Diego Superior Court. Any original documents necessary for a motion hearing or trial shall be lodged in advance of the hearing or trial pursuant to California Rules of Court, rule 3.1302(b). It is the duty of DCSS to serve a copy of this notice with case initiating documents on all parties in the case.

San Diego Department of Child Support Services

The Department of Child Support Services provides the following services:

  • Establish parentage (fatherhood).
  • Locate parents for support establishment and enforcement.
  • Establish child and/or medical support orders.
  • Enforce child and/or medical support orders.
  • Modify existing court orders for child and/or medical support.
  • Enforce spousal support orders where there is also a child support order.
  • Collect and distribute support payments.

Please contact the DCSS at 1-866-901-3212 concerning the following issues:

  • Payment information
  • Verification by an employer of a wage assignment arrears balances
  • Tax intercepts
  • Information reported to credit bureaus
  • Liens/abstracts of support judgment
  • When requesting a continuance of an upcoming hearing
  • To give an ex parte notice

Do not call the FSD business office for these issues. Information regarding these issues is not available to the FSD business office.

Mandatory Meet and Confer Information

Pursuant to San Diego Superior Court Rules, you must participate in a pre-court meeting (meet and confer) with the Department of Child Support Services (DCSS). DCSS will contact you prior to the court hearing to conduct this meeting.  Please keep DCSS updated with your current phone number and email address by contacting the following number: 866-901-3212.  The pre-court meeting (meet and confer) with DCSS will be conducted telephonically or via video communication.  Further instructions for participating in the court hearing will be provided at that time.

Please do not call the FSD business office for these issues. Information regarding these issues is not available to the FSD business office.

Family Law Self Help Services

The staff of the Family Law Facilitator's Office (FLF) can help unrepresented parents and parties who have questions about family law issues. They can help you in preparing court forms and can give you general legal information at no cost. The Family Law Facilitator's Office is staffed by court attorneys, paralegals, and clerks with experience in family law. The Family Law Facilitator's Office does not assist parents or parties who are represented by an attorney. The attorneys at the Family law Facilitator's Office are not your lawyer, but are neutral court employees who do not represent any parent or party and may provide information and services to all parties in the case.

Assistance in cases where the DCSS is enforcing support is provided by the FLF at the following locations:

Central Courthouse

1100 Union Street, 4th Floor

San Diego CA 92101

Sign in time: 7:30 a.m.

Sessions begin at 8:00 a.m.
North County Courthouse

325 S. Melrose Drive

Vista, CA 92081

Sign in time: 7:30 a.m.

Sessions being at 8:00 a.m.

Services are provided on a walk-in basis (first come, first served). Arrive early as space is limited. For assistance with financial matters, please bring written proof of your income for the past 12 months, including your pay stubs for the last two months, your last federal income tax return, any W-2 forms for last year, and copies of any relevant court orders.


Court Links

California Judicial Council's Forms page

Download your California family support forms.

California's Department of Child Support Services Organization (CDCSS)

Get information on parentage, child support enforcement, the child support process and other pertinent information regarding support issues.

California Family Codes

California rules on parentage and child support and other family codes.