In San Joaquin County, Child Support hearings are held at the Stockton Family Law Courthouse located at
540 E. Main Street,
Stockton CA 95202
We understand that appearing in court may be confusing and intimidating. We hope the following information will help prepare you for your court date.
- Dress appropriately. Choose clothing for court as if you were dressing for a job interview. No shorts, hats, tank tops, flip flops, bare midriffs or strapless apparel are allowed in the courtroom.
- Arrange for child care prior to arriving for your court date. Children are not allowed in the courtroom or in Room 19. There is no child care provided for your children while you are in the courtroom or being interviewed in Room 19. Last minute request for a change in court date due to lack of child care cannot generally be accommodated.
- It is important that you attend your scheduled hearing. Arrive at least 10 minutes prior to your scheduled court hearing. When you arrive make sure to check in with the Clerk in Room 19. If you are not present when your case is called, your case may be resolved without your input or your hearing could be cancelled.
- Attorneys from the local child support agency do not represent either party. No one except you or your attorney may represent you in court.
- Carefully review and complete all required paperwork prior to arriving to the court date. In any trial or hearing involving financial issues, each party must produce the following documents:
- The three most recent pay records showing year-to-date wages, salaries, overtime, commissions, bonuses and withholdings.
- Records showing rents, trust income, workers' compensation benefits, unemployment insurance benefits, disability benefits, social security benefits.
- The most recent W-2, 1099, and K1 forms
- A copy of the most recent signed and filed state and federal income tax returns with schedules.
- If self-employed, a current (most recent twelve months) profit and loss statement and balance sheet is needed.
Be prepared to stay a Minimum of 4 hours in the court house the day of your court hearing. Most days the court is very busy with many hearings. If your case does not resolve in Room 19, you will have the opportunity to speak to the Child Support Commissioner. This is your chance to explain your situation. Do not direct comments to the other party or interrupt anyone while others are speaking. Respect the Court.
What Happens in the Court
The Child Support Attorney will often present factors agreed upon by the parties and frame the contested issues for the Court. The parents or their attorneys can supplement those issues as needed. This process often reduces the time required for a hearing by focusing on only the contested issues. Each side is then allowed to produce evidence regarding their positions. The Court Commissioner may ask questions in order to obtain additional information needed to complete the Guideline Calculator input screen and calculate child support.
- Child support in a Title IV-D case is calculated under Family Code § 4050 et seq., just as in other Family law actions. Child Support attorneys and IV-D Commissioners are required to obtain 'guideline' child support orders. The main factors in determining the amount of child support to be ordered are the percentage of time the minor children spend with the non-custodial parent, and the gross wages of each parent.
- The percentage of custodial time will be calculated based on the testimony of the parties, and the Commissioner will use the actual number of hours per year the child(ren) spend with the non-custodial parent, not necessarily the terms of a visitation order. If the non-custodial parent does not appear at the hearing and offer evidence, whatever admissible evidence is available will be utilized to determine the factors.
- The gross monthly income of the parents is typically calculated from pay stubs or W-2 forms or tax returns. When those are not provided CSS may utilize other source information, to include statements from employers, Federal Case Registry (FCR) income reporting, or sometimes the testimony of the other parent. Temporary Orders are sometimes made when one or more of the main factors is unknown or subject to change in the near future.
- A child support modification may be filed by any party to change the amount of child support, due to a change in circumstances since the last order. Changes in the income of either parent (to include unemployment), an increase or decrease in child care expense, or a change in visitation could be qualifying factors. In support modification proceedings, the modified order can only be made effective beginning the first of the month after the motion or order to show cause was filed with the court (not when a request is made to Department of Child Support Services).
- A motion to release driver's (and other state) licenses can be filed by a party paying child support, seeking a judicial review of the Department of Child Support Services decision not to release the license. Family Code §17520 provides that holds be placed on licenses issued by the state when the obligor is not in compliance with a support order; these licenses include professional, trade, driver's and recreational licenses. If a suspension notice is received, the obligor must first attempt to reach an agreement with the Department of Child Support Services, and if unsuccessful, he or she may file a request for judicial review of the license denial.
The Child Support Commissioner shall act as a temporary judge absent an objection from the local child support agency or any other party. A specific notice to this effect is contained on the Judicial Council summons and complaint forms filed by the local child support agency, and will be used in other forms regarding Title IV-D proceedings. The Child Support Commissioner will normally advise the parties prior to the commencement of a hearing that the matter is being heard by a commissioner who shall act as a temporary judge.
If you live in another State or live more than 100 miles from the Stockton Family Law Courthouse you may request a telephonic appearance. Parties that live locally are expected to appear in person.
Every court has a Family Law Facilitator/Pro Per Clinic to provide child support information and help parties obtain and complete court forms at no cost. For information on the San Joaquin County Family Law Facilitator go to http://www.sjcourts.org/self-help/pro-per-clinic or call 1 (209) 468-8280.