Discover Enforcement Tools

One of the primary functions of the Child Support Department is to enforce (collect) child support, family support and spousal support. In most cases we enforce current child support, family support and spousal support only until the child reaches the age of majority (AOM) or emancipates by law. The AOM in California is eighteen (18). However, if a child becomes 18 years old and is still a full time high school student, the current child support order continues until the date the child graduates or becomes nineteen (19) years old, whichever occurs first. A child may emancipate before the age of 18 by marrying, joining the armed forces, or by court order.

We enforce child support and family support arrears (past-due support) until they are paid in full. However, we enforce spousal support arrears only if we are also enforcing child support or family support arrears.

There are many enforcement tools we can use to collect support. An Income Withholding Order (IWO) is issued in every case we enforce. If the Parent Paying Support (PPS) has a job, the IWO is sent to his or her employer. The employer automatically deducts the monthly support payments from the PPS’s wages. If the PPS is self-employed or works for cash, other enforcement tools are used to collect support. It is important to remember that every case is unique; what works for one case may not work for others. What follows are brief descriptions of some of the enforcement tools commonly used by the Child Support Department.

If a Person Paying Support has past-due child support over $150, the local child support agency can request that a percentage of their benefits are withheld to pay that debt.

Under California law, parents court ordered to pay child support must pay the complete monthly child support obligation on time. If the payment is late or the complete amount is not paid, the Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) can suspend or withhold California drivers and/or professional licenses. When the child support payment is late 30 or more days, DCSS submits the non-custodial parent’s name to the Agency Issuing the license, e.g., California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), for license suspension.

The licensing agency (DMV) sends a warning letter allowing the parent 150 days to work with DCSS to pay the past due child support. If the child support obligation is not paid within this time, the drivers and/or professional license suspension will take place. Our office can release your license in person and in some circumstances, over the phone.

Please note: Licenses are not released automatically when payments are made. Once you receive the warning letter from the licensing agency, you must contact our office to obtain a release.

Federal law requires that a parent with a past due child support obligation of $2,500 or greater shall not be issued a passport.

How can I remove the hold from my passport?

In California, you must pay off your child support past due and bring your balance to zero ($0.00) for your passport to be issued or renewed. Please note: Passports are not automatically released once your balance is zero. You will need to contact our office to request a release.

If you have immediate travel plans, a release can be submitted immediately if you walk in and pay by cash or cashier’s check. If not, your release will be completed once your payment has cleared the bank and posted to the account.

If you have the passport denial letter, have it handy when you call or bring it with you to our office. Our office will fax a release request once your child support balance is paid in full.

Some exceptions:

  • Mistaken identity
  • Imminently ill immediate family member
  • Death of an immediate family member

If you have had a death of an immediate family member or have a family member who is imminently ill in another country, your case will be reviewed for temporary (30 day) release without full payment. Here is what we will need:

  • Notarized letter from the doctor providing care
  • Letter needs to be translated to English

>Key Facts:

  • Passport will not be permanently released unless you pay the balance in full
  • Temporary release will activate your passport for 30 days
  • The State Department of Child Support Services Passport Unit will notify you by phone regarding the status of your passport.

For more information contact us.

The California Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) is authorized to assist in the collection of arrears by taking money from accounts held in financial institutions. These accounts may include bank accounts, Individual Retirement Accounts, and financial securities.

DCSS may submit a Person Paying Support (PPS) for bank levy even if he or she is making payments on arrears. DCSS sends a withholding order to the financial institution asking for the full amount of the arrears. The institution must transmit all available funds, up to the full amount, to the State Disbursement Unit.

If the PPS has been making support payments and is deemed to be “compliant,” the first $3,500 in his or her bank account is exempt from the withholding order and will not be taken. A compliant PPS can also file a claim, based solely on hardship, requesting that all or a portion of the amount over $3,500 be exempt.

PPS who need assistance with a bank levy can contact our Customer Contact Center at (866) 901-3212.

Stanislaus County Department of Child Support Services will record support orders and judgments with the County Recorder's Office to create a lien against any real property in any California county in which a debtor has or acquires an interest. Any action by the debtor to purchase, sell, or refinance is prevented unless the lien is satisfied in full, or other arrangements are made with the Stanislaus County Department of Child Support Services.

A judgment lien on personal property is a lien on all interests in that property that is subject to enforcement of a money judgment, such as accounts receivable, equipment, inventory, chattel paper, farm products, and negotiable documents of title. The lien continues on the proceeds received upon the sale, collection or other disposition of the property subject to the lien.

If you need assistance with a lien contact our Customer Contact Center at (866) 901-3212.

When a Person Paying Support owes past due support/arrears, the LCSA can intercept any State or federal income tax refund due to that payer and apply it to the repayment of the past due support/arrears. This means that even though you are making payments by wage assignment, if you still owe some arrears, we can collect tax refunds. Cases are submitted to the tax refund intercept program annually. If your account has become current (paid in full) since the submittal date, the money will be returned to you. For information about your particular case, you may Contact Us.

When a Person Paying Support owes past due support/arrears, the LCSA will report those arrears as a bad debt to all major consumer credit reporting agencies. This action is likely to negatively affect the ability of the child support payer to obtain credit.