Child Support Services

Child Support Services
March 8, 2007
By Beth Gabor, Yolo County Public Information Officer & Kimberly Bellows, U.C. Davis Intern

The Yolo County Department of Child Support Services (CSS) is a little known county department that performs what many people pay money for, but at no cost. The department facilitates the payments annually of approximately $14.5 million in child support. Acting as a collection agency, with many tools at its disposal, CSS serves some 18,000 children county-wide.

Day to day activities of CSS employees include establishing orders, tracking down non-custodial parents who are not paying their child support, and issuing wage assignments so support is paid directly from payroll deductions. The department also has its own attorneys who can adjust payments in court or prosecute criminal cases, when necessary. All of these services are available to all, without charge, regardless of whether or not one is receiving welfare. In fact, many custodial parents can stay off of welfare with the help of CSS when their child support comes in on a regular basis.

The department’s services start with finding the non-custodial parent and establishing an order for support payments that is reasonably set (fair to all concerned) from a guideline calculation. Then CSS serves a wage assignment on the non-custodial parent’s employer so payments become routine. If the custodial parent is on welfare, the first $50 from the non-custodial parent is given to that parent and the rest goes to the government to reimburse welfare payments. Once the custodial parent goes off welfare, they will receive the full amount. If there is still child support owed when the child is emancipated, the non-custodial parent continues to make payments until the full obligation is met. Many find using CSS beneficial because they no longer have direct contact with their ex-partner and because a non-biased third party keeps a record of all transactions.

“We encourage non-custodial parents to get on board early to avoid consequences associated with missed payments,” notes Mark Jones, Child Support Services Director. “As payments are missed, interest starts to accrue and enforcement actions kick in, like taking away a driver’s license, passport, etc., and attaching bank accounts and other assets.”

Most payments are automatically deducted from the non-custodial parent’s check by the employer. State law requires all CSS payments be made by payroll deduction to the state’s handler in Sacramento. Soon, even private, non-CSS wage assignments will be required to be paid through Sacramento. As CSS is a government agency with contacts at the state level, those with private wage assignments may want to consider having their cases handled by CSS, as they can help in dealing with issues and questions that may arise.

On May 1st, CSS will be one of the first in the state to convert to a new statewide computer system. The new system will ultimately link all 58 counties together to provide better and more consistent services to CSS customers statewide. For more information, Yolo County residents can call (530) 661-2880 or go to the Web site at: http://www.yolocounty.org/index.aspx?page=507.