Both the Family Support Division (FSD) and the family court are part of the Superior Court. Although their respective jurisdiction derives from the Family Code, they are two separate sets of judicial courts. FSD does not adjudicated custody and visitation issues; it adjudicates only child support (spousal support when the parents agree that spousal support make be heard with the child support issue, and other issues beyond the scope of this page), while the family court can and must determine custody, visitation and child support issues (unless jurisdiction of the issue of child support has been transferred to FSD, thereby limiting the issues heard in family court to that of child custody and visitation).
Family Support Division
FSD for each of the Central, South County and East County Divisions of the San Diego Superior Court has been consolidated in the Central Division, located at 1100 Union Street in downtown San Diego. Papers for FSD must be filed in the family law business office located on the fourth floor there.
FSD within the North County Division of the San Diego Superior Court is located at 325 South Melrose Drive in Vista, for those within a zip code requiring that the case be heard in the North County Division. Papers must be filed in the family law business office in the North County Division.
Department of Child Support Services (DCSS)
DCSS is an executive public agency created by the State of California but managed at the county level. There are two types of cases commenced by DCSS:
1) When a custodial parent applies for and receives public assistance (referred to as an “aid case”) under the CalWorks (formerly AFDC) program, the county paying the aid will automatically file a complaint against the other parent to reimburse the State for a portion of the payments made.
2) When a custodial parent applies to DCSS seeking child support from the non-custodial parent (referred to as a “self-case”), the county will assist in obtaining child support by filing a complaint against the non-custodial parent for support.
DCSS will also child support in a third type of case. In a case already commenced in family court, the custodial parent may apply independently for assistance from DCSS, which will then transfer jurisdiction over child support from the family court to FSD. The reasons for this are normally financial – enforcement of child support orders can be difficult to impossible on one’s own or expensive using private attorneys – and because DCSS has statutory enforcement tools (e.g., revocation of the non-custodial parent’s driver’s license for non-payment) that the custodial parent on his or her own or using an attorney does not have otherwise.
Following FSD’s lead, DCSS for each of the Central, South County, and East County Divisions has been consolidated within the Central Division at 1100 Union Street in downtown San Diego. If you have a court hearing in FSD, you must check in with DCSS prior to your hearing, regardless of whether you are the paying parent or the parent receiving payments.
A branch of DCSS within the North County Division is located at 325 South Melrose Drive in Vista, for those within a zip code requiring that the case be heard in the North County Division.
Address Where Payments Must be Mailed
The State of California keeps track of payments ordered by FSD and the simple interest accrued (currently at ten percent (10%)) on arrearages. Therefore, the paying parent should not make payments ordered by FSD directly to the other parent because the State of California will not credit the paying parent’s account and an arrearage plus interest will ensue. The paying parent must mail payments ordered by FSD directly to: the State Disbursement Unit, P.O. Box 989067, Sacramento, CA 95798-9067. With regard to an income withholding order (IWO) to be served on the supporting party’s employer, please see the page entitled Child Support.