August is Child Support Awareness Month, a national campaign aimed to spread awareness about child support services. The Sacramento County Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) takes this time to celebrate the thousands of families and children they serve and acknowledge parents as they make a positive impact on the health and financial well-being of their children.
“Parents may worry that enrolling in the child support program will increase conflict in their relationships, however, research studies have found that receiving child support is associated with reduced parental conflict,” said Dalen Fredrickson, Director of Sacramento County Department of Child Support Services.
“Receiving child support is helpful for meeting basic needs, and it is also beneficial in many unexpected ways. For example, receiving child support is associated with significantly improved educational outcomes for children,” said Fredrickson. “Based on the level of participation in Sacramento County, we believe there is a large number of families who could benefit from child support services, who are not currently enrolled.
DCSS managed more than 67,000 cases and distributed more than $139,000,000 in child support for those families in the last federal fiscal year. While focusing on obtaining the financial and medical support a child needs, staff encouraged parents to consider how all types of support from a parent will shape their child’s future.
10 Important Facts about Child Support
- DCSS is a neutral third party and does not represent the child, parents or guardians. Either parent can open a child support case by contacting DCSS.
- A legal parent does not have to be a biological parent. Legal parentage is determined by marriage, voluntary declaration of parentage or court order.
- Ignoring a child support action does not make it go away. If you do nothing, the court will assume you agree with what was requested.
- Two important factors in determining how much child support is due are the income of each parent and the actual time the child spends with each parent. Parents may go to the California Guideline Calculator to get an idea of how much child support may be due.
- If a parent has no income, the court can consider earning capacity in deciding how much a parent should be ordered to pay. Earning capacity is the ability and opportunity to earn income.
- If your circumstances change—losing a job, getting a raise, going to jail—it is important that you contact a child support office or the courts to address your new situation.
- Child support must be paid directly to the person determined to receive support within the court order unless your case is open with a child support office. If your case is opened with a child support office, payments must be made directly to the State of California Disbursement Unit, which will send your payment to the correct party.
- Child support must be paid, even if the other parent is not allowing the parent paying support to see the child and even if you have a change in circumstances.
- Child support is due and payable until the balance is paid in full. When you do not pay child support as ordered by the court, the unpaid amount becomes past due and accrues interest.
- Your driver’s license might be suspended for nonpayment of child support. If your driver’s license is suspended, you may negotiate a release with a child support caseworker.
The department understands that parents who worry about their children, relationships and money have major life stressors and navigating the complex legal system can be very challenging. DCSS wants to partner with families as a bridge to a world of possibilities.
Services are free to both parents, focusing on the establishing and enforcing of court orders for paternity (legal fatherhood), child support and health insurance coverage. DCSS will open a case at the request of either parent.