Child Support Services
Child support services endeavor to make sure that children are getting the care they need, from both their custodial and non-custodial parents or guardians. The goal of all child support services is to make sure that the financial support ordered by the court is being properly administered. There are lots of different agencies, government departments, and services that provide help in these areas, both for those who are being ordered to provide support and those who are supposed to be receiving the support.
Depending on the type of services they provide and where exactly they get their funding, some child support services may be more useful to you than others. The ones that are supported by the government of the county of Los Angeles have the ability to help families or individuals if they need to open a case, contest a ruling, establish a relationship, etc. Most child support organizations provide the following services:
- Opening a case – If you have an existing child support situation that needs to be reviewed by a professional, a child support services organization is the first place you should turn. Even if the issue is not serious and both sides of the case are amicable, getting a court involved without the guidance of a professional can be tricky.
- Finding parents – If the birth parents of a child are not in the picture, but they are required in order to sign away guardianship to a family member, foster parent, or adoptive parent, child support services may be able to help you find those parents, whether they are in the prison system or are simply no longer part of that child’s life.
- Establishing legal relationships – Establishing guardianship can ensure that a parent (whether blood or simply caring for the child) has the rights that he needs to take care of any financial, legal, or medical issues that may arise with that child.
- Creating or adjusting child support agreements – When it comes time to establish child support agreements or to change an existing one, some organizations can provide the support that both parents/guardians and children need. Especially in times of upheaval, it is important for children to feel secure and supported, and child support services can help families to provide that situation for any children involved.
- Enforcing child support orders – Parents who are ordered to pay child support may become negligent for a variety of reasons. Often, simply discussing the needs of the child or reaching out to the negligent parent is not enough. Many family support organizations can help to enforce the court orders that require one parent to pay support to another for a child.
While it is not always necessary to take an issue to court, it sometimes is. Many of these organizations provide support for families both out of court and in court. Finding a lawyer who can help with your case, should it come to court, may give you the additional help you require.
Here is an overview of services that are available in Los Angeles, California:
Los Angeles County Child Support Services Department
This department works closely with the courts in order to provide help to families and children in need. They are financed by the county and can therefore serve most families at no or very little cost to those families. They endeavor to support the community by making families as stable and happy as possible. Efficiency and efficacy are their goal, and they provide the full gambit of offerings.
Their website has a huge number of tools for those that might need assistance with child support, ranging from opening a case, making a support payment, to making changes to court orders, learning about how payments are collected and distributed, and information about how payments are calculated. All of this information can be just as useful for those who are receiving child support as those who are paying it.
Whether or not you have a current issue with your child support agreement, familiarizing yourself with these tools so you know where to go and what to do should you ever have an issue is a very good idea.
Public Counsel’s goal is to help low-income families get the help that they need when it comes to financial support issues and situations having to do with paying or delinquent payments. They recognize that it is often families that have few financial assets that need the most help when it comes to child support services. Their goal is to tip the scales of justice in favor of those who need it the most—the disadvantaged and low income people of Los Angeles.
This public interest law firm’s goals are varied and wide-reaching, ranging from advocating for children with disabilities, to helping foster children who are aging out of the system. Much of their work, however, revolves around helping families adopt, managing support situations, and finding guardians for children in need. They are based in Los Angeles, but help families throughout California, which is a major benefit for those who might need parent finding services or in situations in which some parties might be outside of Los Angeles County.
They pride themselves on being the largest pro bono law firm in the country, with thousands of volunteers, coming from all walks of life and specializing in a wide variety of law. This means that if you are dealing with a difficult situation, you can probably find a lawyer at Public Counsel who as the skills that your situation requires.
California Department of Child Support Services
This is the overarching child support agency for all of California. Like the county department, their webpage is full of resources that those who want to find out about support for their son or daughter, make a payment, open a case, etc. will find useful. In addition to the services provided by the county page, this state page will allow you to make a payment online, request public records, open a paternity investigation, and more.
The Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles
Though most family lawyers and family support agencies will tell you to avoid going to court, it is necessary, in some instances, to go before a judge. If one or both parties are hostile or unwilling to cooperate, taking the situation to court may be the only way to get one or both to comply. The Superior Court of California offers a number of different services and directories, who feel that they may need extra help with a child support situation.
They have links to a number of different resources, including:
- The family law facilitator – This is an office that helps families and individuals who are struggling with child support, spousal support, and medical support cases. They can educate and provide information to all involved parties, and even give them the resources that individual might need in order to represent themselves if their cases go to court.
- Directory of private counselors – If you are in need of professional help for a child support case, viewing the director of private counselors may help you find a lawyer or other professional that can help with your situation.
- Our Children First – This is an online education course, available both in Spanish and in English, that helps families and guardians understand the mediation process. When you have been assigned a case number, you have automatic access to this orientation program. There is also the opportunity to take this class in person, at the court house in Los Angeles.
- Family Court Services Department – This department is available to help individuals who are looking into mediation connect with mental health professionals, who are trained in creating plans for their children that ensure positive results for all involved.
- Parent education referral list for high conflict situations – While some child custody and support cases are amicable, many are not. In instances where conflict is common, the Superior Court of Los Angeles provides a list of resources that can help individuals mediate and deal with these difficult circumstances.
The goal of the Kinship Center is to make sure that children have the familial support that they need. They are a resource for children who are not safe in their homes and can provide care for children who have long-term, serious issues. They often act as an intermediary home for young children and babies who are going to be put up for adoption.
Lilliput Children’s Services
This organization is multifaceted, focusing mostly on placing children in adoptive or foster care homes, and providing resources to families who adopt or provide foster care for families. They do, however, have experience working with all types of family situations, and can be a great resource for families who need help in the child support arena.
Like the Lilliput Children’s Services, Aspiranet provides a wide variety of different services to families, focusing mainly on adoption and foster care. They do, however, also provides support for single or divorced parents who need help with child support situations, especially in instances when children have been abused or are at-risk in their current family situations. They focus on helping to create a stable situation for children.
Our Children’s Keeper Child and Family Services
This non-profit is dedicated to helping to create more stable families. They work with a wide variety of families and provide support in a variety of different aspects of family law.
The Bottom Line
You do not have to go it alone if you are dealing with a familial support issue or have a question about your financial support arrangement. It is important for you to know that you have rights and that you can leverage those rights into a better situation for the child in question.
All of these agencies and departments are concerned primarily with making sure that the child involved in the situation has the support and care that they need, first and foremost. Creating safe home environments and stable family life is the goal of every department and every firm listed above. Any one of these services may be able to help you if you have a child support question or issue.