Gender and name changes in child support cases

The California Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) has issued a policy that individuals may change their gender with the DCSS at any time.  Local Child Support Agencies must accept any change of an individual’s gender to male, female or nonbinary without the need for documentation or form completion.  Gender changes may or may not be accompanied by name changes.

A name change requires a government issued form of identification such as a driver’s license or a Social Security card with a new legal name.

All Local Child Support Agencies must change all materials, including county specific forms and outreach materials, to comply with AB 179, the Gender Recognition Act, including but not limited to adding a nonbinary gender option and removing gender specific pronouns.  (CSSP Letter 19-06, July 31, 2019.)

Child support for adult disabled children

The California Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) has issued a policy that child support services must be provided for an adult disabled child if the child’s disability is verified to have occurred prior to the age of majority, the child is incapacitated and unable to earn a living, and without sufficient means.  This policy is based on Family Code Section 3910.

Before opening a case, the Local Child Support Agency must request verification that child’s disability occurred prior to the age of majority, the child is incapacitated and unable to earn a living, and without sufficient means.

If there is a claim of disability in an open case and that claim is verified, the Local Child Support Agency must file a motion to extend support under Family Code Section 3910.

If an applicant has a child support order for an adult disabled child, the Local Child Support Agency must enforce the order past the age of majority if the order states the disability occurred prior to the age of majority or, if the order is silent about disability, the applicant provides documentation that the disability occurred prior to the age of majority.  (CSSP Letter 19-07, July 31, 2019.)

Child support transportation service and education and outreach

The California Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) has issued policy regarding transportation and education and outreach.  This policy implements sections of the new federal child support regulations that became effective on December 20, 2016.

The new federal regulations at 45 CFR Section 304.20(b)(3)(v) authorize providing transportation assistance such as bus fare or taxi reimbursement for participation in the establishment of and enforcement of child support orders.  DCSS policy is that each local child support agency may, at its discretion, provide minor transportation assistance costs.

The new federal regulations at 45 CFR Section 304.20(b)(12) also authorize education and outreach activities intended to inform the public, parents, family members and young people who are not yet parents about the child support program, responsible parenting, family budgeting and other financial responsibilities when parents are not living together.  DCSS policy is that local child support agencies may conduct education and outreach activities.  (CSSP Letter 19-05, June 4, 2019.)

Suppression of child support enforcement

The California Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) has issued new policy regarding the use of suppressions of child support enforcement actions.

Suppressions shall not be placed on Financial Institution Data Match because this is considered a locate tool.

Suppressions shall not exceed 12 months except for bankruptcy and interest suppressions.  Bankruptcy suppressions are reviewed by Local Child Support Agency legal counsel.

Credit reporting must be suppressed for noncustodial parents who are incarcerated for more than 90 consecutive days unless the noncustodial parent has the means to pay or incarceration is for domestic violence or failure to pay child support.

Interest can only be suppressed because of a court order or active out-of-state order.

Income Withholding Orders can only be suppressed when there is a court court order that the wage assignment is stayed, the parties file a stipulation with the court and the noncustodial parent is compliant every month, or social security derivative benefits exceed the court ordered obligation.  (CSSP Letter 19-02, February 12, 2019.)

Forwarding child support court documents containing confidential information

The California Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) has issued new policy regarding forwarding court documents received from individuals seeking or receiving child support services which contain confidential information.

The new policy is that Local Child Support Agencies must forward forms, attachments, and documents received from individuals seeking or receiving child support services to the courts unaltered.  DCSS states that the responsibility for redacting confidential information is with the party that wrote the document.

Local Child Support Agencies must inform individuals seeking or receiving child support services that documents submitted to the court are public records that are available for review upon submission.  (CSSP Letter 19-01, February 13, 2019.)

Current index of California child support policies

The Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) has issued an index of child support program policies.  The index indicates which policies are current, obsolete, superseded or informational.  DCSS is working on a procedures manual to provide guidance and this index is part of that project.

This index is important because it provides a reference for which DCSS letters and other policy documents can currently be relied upon.  (CSSP Letter 18-10, December 18, 2018.)