Understanding the Court Process
The Court's Role in Child Support
In most cases, the Court Commissioner or Family Law Judge has the final authority for deciding the amount of child support to be paid and who will be responsible for making those payments. A child support agency may ask the court to issue a new support order or modify an existing order to either decrease or increase child support.
The support order may be part of an interim, temporary, permanent, or modified court order in a divorce, paternity action, child custody action or separate child support action. The court sets the amount of child support based on both party's income and the percentage of time the child is in each parties' care. The court may also order additional child support such as medical support, daycare expense, and other add-ons. The court may reduce child support based on certain hardship circumstances identified in Family Code Section 4050 and thereafter.
- If you already have a child support order, Tehama County Child Support will enforce that order.
- If you don't have a support order, but have an existing family law court file, Tehama County Child Support can act on your behalf and request a support order.
- If no prior court action exists, Tehama County Child Support will begin the process by processing a Summons and Complaint.
Overview of the Court Process
- Tehama County Child Support files a Summons and Complaint
- Tehama County Child Support serves the Noncustodial Party
- The Noncustodial Party responds within 30 days to the Summons and Complaint
- The Custodial Party and Noncustodial Party each submit an Income and Expense Declaration
- The Custodial Party and Noncustodial Party agree on a support amount together and work with Tehama Child Support Services to create a Stipulation. Or, both parents can appear in court.
- The court sets a child support amount
- Tehama County Child Support Services issues an Income Withholding Order to the paying parent's employer if they are employed.
File with the Court
Filings is the act of submitting a document to the clerk of a court so it can be placed in the court's file to start a legal action against another party, or so it can be considered by the Judge or Commissioner when they are making decisions on a case. All documents of legal importance exchanged between the parties are filed with the court.
Here's how to file with Tehama County Superior Court located at 1760 Walnut Street in Red Bluff:
- Go the court clerk's office, civil division window between the hours of 9am and 3pm, Monday through Friday
- You must bring the original document and 3 copies
- The court keeps the original, you will be given the other copies back (keep one copy for yourself)
- The court will require proof that you supplied a copy of each document that you file to the Tehama County Department of Child Support Services and the other party involved in the case. (See instructions below)
File a Proof of Service
Any document that you file with the court must be shared with the Child Support Services Department and the other party involved on the case. You cannot serve your own documents, meaning you cannot deliver the documents in person, yourself. Here are some ways to file a proof of service:
- You may pay or ask an adult who is not involved in the case to personally serve (deliver the documents) to the Child Support Services Department and the other party
- You may mail the documents to the Child Support Services Department and the other party. If you are unable to mail documents filed with the court to the other party because you do not have their address, you can serve the Tehama County Department of Child Support Services with an extra copy and attach a note requesting that it be mailed to the other party
Once the documents have been served in person or by mail, the person who served them needs to fill out a Proof of Service and file it with the court clerk.(See above.)
You can purchase a Proof of Servie form at the court clerk's office, or you can obtain a pdf filllable form fro free from the California Courts Judicial branch website at: http://www.courts.ca.gov/1195.htm.
Some documents, such as contempt actions and request for emergency temporary orders, must be served in-person, not via mail, to the other party. If you need information regarding serving parties with documents, contact the Tehama County Family Law Facilitator for assistance.
Appearing on Your Case at Tehama County Superior Court
- IV-D Child Support Court takes place every Thursday at 9am in the main courthouse, upstairs.
- Parking can get crowded around the courthouse, so plan to arrive at least 15 minutes early to find a space and walk in
- Bring a copy of your most recent completed Income and Expense Declaration Form and the back up documents that support the information such as your last paycheck
- Bring a checkbook or cash with you so you are prepared to make a payment if you are the Paying Parent.
- Chewing gum in the courtroom and wearing shorts when appearing on your case are considered inappropriate by the Commissioner.
- Turn your cell phone off before entering the courtroom.