Assembly Bill 1058 created the Child Support Commissioner and Family Law Facilitator Program in 1996 to address the problem of overburdened courts and the lack of accessible help for people with child support issues who did not have attorneys. The program is funded by a combination of federal title IV-D funds and state funds, with the federal government paying two-thirds and one-third provided by state non–trial court funds. “Title IV-D ” refers to title IV-D of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. section 601 et seq.), which requires each state to establish and enforce support orders when public assistance has been spent on behalf of a child. Title IV-D also requires the states to establish and enforce support orders when requested to do so by a parent who is not receiving public assistance.
Annual AB 1058 Child Support Training Conference: Every fall, a training conference is held for child support commissioners, family law facilitators, court administrators, accounting staff, court clerks and paralegals. The conference is organized by the AB 1058 staff at the Center for Families, Children & the Courts (CFCC). This conference fulfills the training requirements in Rule 5.340 of the California Rules of Court for child support commissioners, in Rule 5.35 for family law facilitators, and in Rule 5.355 for court clerks who work in title IV-D child support assignments.
Child Support Commissioner Roundtable in Conjunction With the Family Law Institute: Each spring the Education Division/Center for Judicial Education and Research (CJER) organizes the Family Law Institute to train family law judges and commissioners. A child support commissioner roundtable is held in conjunction with the Family Law Institute to provide a forum for judicial officers to share best practices and discuss updates in child support policy.
A family law facilitator midyear training is often provided for subject matter training, policy updates, and roundtable discussions.
The Center for Families, Children & the Courts (CFCC) has conducted several studies on child support. Under Family Code section 4054, the Judicial Council is required to review the statewide uniform child support guideline every four years and make any recommendations to the Legislature for appropriate revisions. CFCC carries out that mandate. The 2001 and 2005 child support guideline reviews are available below. The 1993 and 1998 studies were conducted before the creation of CFCC but are also available.
CFCC also completed a study titled California’s Child Support Commissioner System: An Evaluation of the First Two Years of the Program. This study was sent to the Legislature in May 2000. It evaluated both the child support commissioner and family law facilitator aspects of the child support commissioner system and determined that both programs were meeting the objectives of the legislation.
There is a federal requirement that all states have a uniform child support guideline. To assist parents, attorneys, and the courts to determine the correct support amount under California’s guideline, various electronic calculators have been developed. As required by Rule 5.275 and Family Code section 3830, the Judicial Council certifies the programs that provide child support calculations consistent with the applicable statutes and rules of court. See Child Support FAQs for a list of certified programs.
Judicial Council staff takes reports from the public, attorneys, and the courts regarding any differences in the results produced by calculators based on the same set of facts. Differing results or other issues should be reported by e-mail to SupportCalculator@jud.ca.gov. See instructions below for reporting different results.
Instructions in Reporting Different Calculations Results
When reporting different results, please provide copies of the differing calculations, the assumptions input in the calculators and your contact information. Calculator developers are also encouraged to submit differences, and they will be forwarded to a workgroup consisting of family law judges, commissioners and members of the Family and Juvenile Law Advisory Committee to the Judicial Council. This workgroup will provide developers with a uniform and consistent approach. Judicial Council staff also convenes periodic summit meetings of calculator developers to discuss issues and to ensure consistency and integrity among the certified child support calculators. The child support “guideline” on which the calculators are based is not an optional guide, but is the name for the state law setting out a standardized formula for calculating child support.
This pamphlet provides a quick reference for general information and answers to commonly asked questions on child support and the court process.
The website of the California Department of Child Support Services (DCSS), contains a lot of helpful information on the child support program in California, such as the Child Support Handbook. For DCSS’s comparative data on managing performance, which contains statistics on all 58 counties’ performance on the federal performance measures, click here.
For more information on child support and family law matters, visit the California Courts Self-Help Center website.