Collecting child support can be difficult for many California parents. It is common for child support amounts to enter arrears and remain unpaid for extended periods of time. Parents should understand that they have options when it comes to collecting child support from an unwilling former partner. The state takes child support collection very seriously and has programs in place to help parents with collection.

One of the most important aspects of the collection process parents should understand is the role of the State Disbursement Unit. California manages an SDU for the purposes of collecting payments and providing the funds to custodial parents. When child support is collected through means of income withholding or some other automated procedure, the money is often handled by the SDU. Custodial parents may make use of SDU services to collect child support payments in this manner.

The SDU is primarily responsible for three aspects of income withholding. They accurately identify payments. When payments are received, they promptly disburse those payments to the custodial parents as appropriate and handle any government withholds that may be taken from the funds prior to disbursement. The SDU is also the primary record keeper for such child support payments and can furnish payment reports to the parents or the court upon request.

Parents may be intimidated or confused by the child support collection process. They may have questions about what forms need to be filled out or what their options are for collection. While SDUs are helpful, the state automates theses services as much as possible. A family law attorney may help a parent understand the child support collection process as well as their rights and responsibilities under the law. Use of SDU services is intended to help parents, and it is not necessarily the only or best way to pursue payment.