Establishing an Order


Alameda County Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) will use legal processes to obtain an order for child and or medical support. The diagram below provides an overview of the order establishment process.


For more information see the Frequently Asked Questions below.

I just received a Summons and Complaint; what does this mean?

State and Federal laws require us to legally establish paternity, child support and health insurance coverage for the child(ren) listed on the Complaint. You must respond by filing an Answer with the Alameda County Clerk's office in the Superior Court House, within thirty days of service (or forty days of the date if someone you know was served on your behalf). If you do not file an Answer, a Default Judgment will be filed based upon the Proposed Judgment included in your Summons and Complaint packet.

I do not think I am the father of the child (ren) listed on the Complaint. What do I do?

If you do not believe you are the father of this child, you must file an Answer (included in the packet) with the Alameda County Superior Court. Once your Answer is filed, a court date will be scheduled to determine if you are the father. Failure to file an Answer may result in a Default Judgment being entered without your further participation or updated information.

I disagree with the child support amount, or one of the terms, set in the Proposed Judgment. What do I do?

You must file an Answer with the Alameda County Superior Court. A court date will then be set and the issues resolved there. Failure to file an Answer may result in a Default Judgment being entered without your further participation or updated information.

How did you arrive at this child support amount?

The child support amount is based upon the information you provide to us prior to the filing of the Summons and Complaint, and the information in the case. This includes the information we receive from the Employment Development Department regarding your work history and the amount of child support for other children you may have for whom you pay child support. The amount of child support is determined using specific guidelines established by California law. The calculation, attached to the Proposed Judgment received with the Summons and Complaint, details the income and deductions used. It is therefore extremely important to inform us of your income and expense information. For more information on Calculating Support, click on the “Calculating Support” link in the left menu of the Legal Home page.

How long will I have to pay support?

In general, support obligations continue until the child turns eighteen years old. However, if the child remains a full-time high school student, child support will continue until the child graduates from high school or turns nineteen, whichever occurs first.** However, if there are arrears (past due child support) owing, then the arrears continue to be due until the account is paid in full. ** There may be exceptional circumstances where child support may be ordered to continue beyond these dates.

The non-custodial parent of my 13-year-old child and I never went to court and I've never received any child support. Will the court order the other parent to pay for those years without support?

No. In California, child support can only be established back to the date of the filing of the Summons and Complaint.