Frequently Asked Questions

Jill K. Francis, Director, Child Support Services


  • What is the Marin County Child Support and Paternity Program?

    The program offers services to both welfare and non-welfare families to secure child and medical support. We locate parents, obtain court orders if none exist, enforce orders when a noncustodial parent fails to pay and establish paternity if the parents were not married before the child was conceived.

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Services Provided

  • How may this program help me?

    • You may find a noncustodial parent.
    • You may obtain an order for support, if none exists.
    • You may have paternity established, making your child eligible for benefits or pensions he or she would not otherwise be entitled to, such as social security or inheritance, in addition to child support.
    • You may receive assistance in enforcing a child/spousal support and/or medical support order.
    • You may receive assistance in modifying an existing court order for child and/or medical support.
    • You may be able to stop receiving TANF if your child support is collected regularly and the amount is more than your TANF grant.
    • You may continue to have our office handle your case after aid is discontinued, unless you ask us to stop, in writing.

  • What must I do to get help from your office?

    If you are receiving TANF, your eligibility worker automatically refers your case to our office.

    If you are not receiving TANF, you can apply for services at the child support office by scheduling an appointment. To schedule an appointment, call (866) 901-3212. Our office is located at 88 Rowland Way, Suite 200, in Novato. You will be asked to fill out forms before a file can be opened.

    The more information you provide, the more successful we will be in helping you. The more accurate your information, the faster your case can be processed.

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  • Do I have to pay for your services?

    In accordance with the Federal Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 the Department of Child Support Services may assess a $25 Annual Service Fee for each case that has never received public assistance. This fee will be assessed every year on October 1 for each case in which at least $500 has been disbursed to the family in the prior Federal Fiscal Year (October 1 - September 30). The fee will be automatically deducted from the next payment(s) issued to the custodial party after October 1 until the fee has been recovered in full.

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Case Handling

  • How do I communicate with the Child Support Services?

    It is extremely important that you keep us informed of everything which may have a bearing on the actions we are taking on your child support case. You must respond to all requests for information promptly, especially those which are related to pending court actions which have strict deadlines associated with them. You should notify us immediately of any of the following events:

    • Your child ceases to reside in your household, becomes self-supporting, quits school or graduates, marries, joins the military service, is adopted or goes to live with the noncustodial parent for an extended period (usually more than one month).
    • Receipt of any direct support payments (If you are an TANF recipient, you must send the payment to us immediately.) See the discussion above concerning receipt of direct support payments.
    • The entry into any agreements with the noncustodial parent concerning the support obligations.
    • Receipt of any communications from the noncustodial parent concerning the support obligation(s) we are enforcing.
    • All changes to your residence or work addresses or phone numbers.
    • Any legal papers you receive concerning the support obligations.

    You may call our voice response system at (866) 901-3212, 24-hours a day, seven days a week to receive payment information.

    Please send correspondence to:

    Department of Child Support Services
    PO Box 6145
    Novato, CA 94948-6145

    Our office is located at:

    Department of Child Support Services
    88 Rowland Way, Suite 200
    Novato, CA 94945

    Please include your name and Child Support Account number on your correspondence.

  • How will I receive my support payment?

    All child support payments are processed and disbursed through the California State Disbursement Unit. Payments should be mailed to: California SDU, PO Box 989067, West Sacramento, CA 95798. Please include the payor's name, and participant number, case number and/or social security number on the payment instrument, to make sure the payment is correctly identified. Visit the California SDU website for options available for paying or receiving child support electronically.

  • What happens after you have my forms and information?

    The action our office takes depends a great deal upon the facts you have given us about the noncustodial parent. You may be contacted if more information is needed. Some cases take longer than others before positive results are realized. We will keep you advised of every major development in your case, including copies of all pleadings filed on your behalf and significant items of correspondence with the noncustodial parent or attorney.

  • What information about the noncustodial parent will you want from me?

    • Social Security number
    • Date of birth
    • Driver's license number
    • Current or last known address
    • Name and address of last known employer
    • If you have support orders, a detailed accounting of the arrearages.

    With a name, date of birth and Social Security number, we can make use of local, state and federal resources to locate the noncustodial parent. You may find this information on old pay stubs, credit forms, tax returns or school documents.

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  • Do paternity cases take longer?

    If the mother and father were not married at the time the child was conceived, the case will be more complicated and will probably take longer to conclude.

  • How soon can I expect to receive support?

    Sometimes the first contact with the noncustodial parent by our office is enough to start the support payments within the next month or two. On the other hand, sometimes the noncustodial parent is never located or is unable to provide any support. Most of our cases fall between these two extremes. We cannot guarantee adequate and proper child support, but our staff is dedicated to doing the very best possible job for you.

  • What does enforcement mean and how will you do it?

    When a non custodial parent fails to make court ordered child support payments, our office will take action to help you collect your support. The action we take may include one or more of the following:

    • Writs of Attachment
    • Wage Assignments
    • Garnishments against Personal Property
    • Liens Recorded against Real Property
    • Income Tax Refunds Intercepted
    • Unemployment and State Disability Intercept
    • Revocation of professional licenses
    • Revocation of California Driver's License
    • Passports will not be issued
    • Contempt of Court
    • Criminal Complaint for Failure to Provide (includes a possible jail sentence)
    • Reciprocal Action with other States

  • What if the parent lives in another state?

    California has reciprocal child support agreements with other states and even with a number of other countries. Because in such cases we must rely completely on the court of the other state or country, response time may be slow. Normally, you should not expect any support payments for at least ninety days or longer. The other state will have to contact the noncustodial parent personally and may have problems and delays in doing so.

  • Will I have to testify in court?

    You may have to appear in court to give testimony where a trial or hearing is necessary, paternity is at issue or a criminal complaint has been filed. If so, you will be advised by a Child Support Attorney who will explain the court proceedings to you. You and the noncustodial parent will need to bring financial information to the court. This information will most likely include pay stubs or copies of tax returns. Many cases which are set for trial result in settlement at the last moment. If that happens, your testimony will not be needed.

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