Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
When a title company discovers the support lien or abstract of judgment recorded by DCSS, how should they contact DCSS and what information do they need to request a "demand"?
Submit a demand request and a copy of the abstract or lien by fax to (925) 468-9177, ATTENTION: Demand Desk. The written demand request must be submitted using your company letterhead with your telephone and fax numbers. You must include the following information:
- Your client's full name
- Social Security Number
- Date of Birth
- Driver's License Number
- Property Address
- Attach a copy of the Abstract of Support Judgment or Lien
- Attach a copy of the borrower's Authorization to Release Information form
DCSS recommends that you submit the demand with information (Social Security Number, date of birth, CDL etc.) you received directly from your client. DCSS will perform research using the information you provide to verify the facts of any abstract or lien and then report back to you. Incomplete information may result in your request being delayed.
Why is a copy of the abstract or lien necessary?
DCSS wants to ensure that your client is the obligor named on the abstract and that our department issued the abstract or lien. Every county in the State has a child support agency and each agency files its own abstracts or liens. Although we are in the business of collecting child support we want to make sure the money we collect is actually owed on one of our cases.
How can the Title Company avoid delay at the close of escrow when they learn their client has a Judgment Lien filed by DCSS?
Abstracts and support liens do not attach to a particular piece of property so it is important to perform name searches on the parties involved in the transaction. If the Title Company waits until the end of a transaction to do this they may experience a delay. The following best practices may help avoid delays at the close of escrow:
- Start your research early!
- Ask your client if they have a child support case with DCSS, if they do there is a chance a demand will be needed.
- Check your client’s credit report. DCSS is required to report obligatory to the major credit reporting agencies.
DCSS needs to verify the abstract or support lien and then determine how much support is owed before it can issue a “demand”. We understand the urgency and will work diligently to provide a response to your demand request.
What happens when the title company discovers a judgment lien or abstract recorded against a client who is buying, selling or refinancing a piece of real property?
The title company will request a "demand" from the creditor (DCSS will be the creditor that recorded the judgment lien or abstract lien). DCSS will prepare a statement of how much is owed on the judgment. This is known as the “demand”. In the case of an on-going child support order, if the debtor is behind in his or her payments the demand will be for the amount of the support arrearage.
If there is a delay in settling the demand it is important to understand that the amount owed may change, and an updated demand may be needed. Failing to make additional payments toward child support obligations will cause the amount owed to increase.
What happens after a demand for payment is received from DCSS?
When Selling or Refinancing Property
If the title company’s client is selling or refinancing property and there is sufficient money being realized by the client, that money must be applied toward the demand until the arrears have been paid in full. DCSS will send a "matured installment" if current child support continues to be owed, or a "release of lien" if the arrears have been paid and current child support is no longer being charged. These documents will be recorded by the escrow company after payment on the demand is made.
When Buying Property
If the title company’s client is buying a piece of property and owes past due support, one of the following could happen:
- If the client is currently on a wage assignment and their pay history is good, DCSS may subordinate its lien in favor of the first deed of trust on the new purchase.
- If the client has a poor pay history and is not currently on a wage assignment, then DCSS will demand that the debt be paid in full.
Where should payments to be sent?
Please make all checks payable to “ALAMEDA COUNTY”. For proper identification, your client's full name and DCSS file number and Social Security number must be indicated on the face of the check.
State Disbursement Unit
P.O. Box 989067
West Sacramento, CA 95798-9067
Payment Address for Overnight Delivery
Department of Child Support Services
Attn. Reception - Lobby
5669 Gibraltar Drive
Pleasanton, CA 94588
If the title company’s client is current on their child support obligation and only owes future support, what process is followed?
If the title company’s client is current with their child support payments and has no past due obligations, a matured installment is sent to the escrow company in response to the demand request. This document indicates that all support obligations are paid up to date.
If a title company’s client is attempting to refinance his property to lower their interest rate and payment and isn't taking any money (equity) out of the property, will DCSS subordinate their lien in favor of the new mortgage?
This is determined on a case by case basis. If the obligor is paying regularly by wage assignment or shows a steady pay history and his/her arrearages are not excessive, DCSS will consider subordination of its lien to the new first trust deed (mortgage). Otherwise, DCSS will demand payment of the arrearages before subordination or matured installment will be issued.
Occasionally if there are insufficient funds to pay the entire debt owed, a partial payment may be accepted and the remainder of the debt subordinated to the first trust deed (mortgage). DCSS legal staff will make this decision after a thorough review of the obligor's payment record and consultation with the custodial parent.
Should the title company be concerned with prior quit claimed deeds issued on the property?
Yes! California law provides that when a grantor quitclaims his interest to another party, he transfers his entire interest including all the defects and equities, which could then have been asserted against him.
This means that when the debtor quitclaimed the property interest the person who took title obtained, took it subject to the recorded lien and DCSS can still assert a support lien on that property. This frequently happens in dissolution cases, where the support obligor quitclaims the property in dissolution of marriage to the former spouse, who takes the property subject to the support liens.
If the escrow you are handling involves a property where quit claimed deeds have been filed, a name search will need to be performed for the grantor of the quitclaim to avoid problems and future litigation.
Why are judgment liens filed in support cases?
DCSS is required by state regulation to file liens. Every DCSS case with a support order will have an abstract of the support order or judgment is filed with the county recorder's office in one or more counties.
This recording will occur in the county or counties where the obligor resides, works, and where his / her parents reside. Because the abstracts do not reference a specific property, they do not appear on the initial title search of the property address. They will appear during the final title search of the obligor's name and / or social security number.
Refer to the FAQ titled, ‘How can the Title Company avoid delay at the close of escrow when they learn their client has a Judgment Lien filed by DCSS?’ above for tips on determining whether an abstract of the support order or judgment exists.
Does a child support lien or abstract ever expire?
No. As long as the child support debt is owed the lien or abstract remains active. The California Civil Code exempts support judgments from renewal requirements and the support order or judgment is enforceable until paid in full. Title companies should not limit the number of years they research since there is a possibility that the client could have a child support obligation on adult children.