If a parent or child is receiving cash aid from the State of California, a request for the parent receiving welfare will automatically be forwarded to the Department of Child Support Services (DCSS). DCSS works to create and enforce child support orders from DCSS in order to ensure the State of California spends less on supporting its residents, and that parents of children in need step up and make necessary child support payments.
If a parent receiving aid from the state requests child support from family court, the case will be transferred to DCSS. If this is the first time the court is making a support order, then DCSS will work to assist the court in setting that order. In making this order, the court will need to know the gross incomes for both parents, the amount of time each child spends with each parent, and other important financial information about the parents and children.
DCSS will always reach out to the supporting parent in order to provide notice of the proceedings and an opportunity to be heard regarding support. If DCSS has properly followed procedure in giving notice to the other party and still does not hear back from the supporting parent, it may continue to proceed with requesting the court make support orders. In doing so, the court will hear from the supported parent any evidence he or she may have regarding the other parent’s income or ability to earn income. This is called a default order, which will be based solely off a presumed income.
When a default child support order is made based on presumed income, the court may, “on any terms that may be just,” set aside that part of the order concerning the amount of child support to be paid. Under California Family Code section 17432, a child support order may be set aside if a parent’s income was “substantially different” from the income that he or she was presumed to have. This applies even if the income was actually higher than the court presumed, therefore a request to adjust the income amount can be made by DCSS, as well as the supporting parent. Whichever party is seeking relief bears the burden of proving the actual income. This set aside motion must be filed within one year of DCSS receiving the first payment of support.
If you have been imputed with a presumed income for child support by DCSS, call Cage & Miles, LLP to speak to an attorney about creating a child support order that fairly matches your income.