How to File for Child Support When Your Husband Refuses in California

by Heather Frances J.D. Google
Parents cannot refuse to provide financial support.

Parents cannot refuse to provide financial support.

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California parents are legally obligated to provide financial support for their children -- before, during and after divorce. If your husband refuses to provide support for his children while your divorce is pending, you can ask the court for an order to force him to pay. The court can set a temporary amount, which can then become permanent once included in your divorce decree.

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Temporary Orders

California courts can issue temporary orders governing how you and your spouse must behave while your divorce is pending, including ordering your husband to pay child support. Once you file your divorce paperwork, you can file a Request for Order form, FL-300, to ask the court to enter a child support order, even if your spouse is refusing to pay support or saying he doesn’t have to pay. Your Request for Order must include information about you, your spouse and your children, a financial statement and a statement of how much you are requesting if you are asking for an amount different from the amount dictated by California’s child support guidelines. File the Request for Order in the same court where your divorce case is pending. The court may require you to file additional forms, such as an Income and Expense Declaration, along with your Request for Order.

Serving Your Spouse

Once your paperwork is properly filed, you must serve your spouse with a copy of your filings so that he has a chance to respond to your request. But you cannot simply give your spouse a copy of the papers. Instead, you must have your spouse served by law enforcement, a professional process server or another adult who is not part of your divorce case. The person who serves the papers must complete a proof-of-service form which you must then submit to the court.


The court will hold a hearing on your Request for Order; you should bring copies of all the papers in your case with you to that hearing, including your tax returns, pay stubs, child care receipts or other relevant financial records. At the hearing, the court will determine how much your spouse must pay according to California’s child support guidelines, though the court can vary the support amount under some circumstances. Typically, the court’s child support order includes both an order for your spouse to pay a certain amount and an order for his employer to take that amount directly from his paycheck, called wage assignment or garnishment. His employer then sends the money to a state agency and the agency sends it to you.


Though support is usually collected through wage assignment, wage assignment is less effective if your husband does not receive a paycheck. For example, if he is self-employed or receives income from somewhere other than a job, it can be difficult to collect child support if he refuses to pay as ordered. As long as you have a child support order in place, you can contact your local child support agency for assistance. The agency can use various tools to get your husband to pay as ordered, including credit reporting, denying a passport, suspending your spouse’s driver’s license and placing liens on property. If the local agency gets involved in the case, they can attempt to collect the payments and send them to you. The services of your local child support agency are free of charge.