Divorced parents in California may be unaware of the varying types of child support cases that exist. The multiple types of cases can be confusing, especially as some individuals make direct payments to the custodial parent while others submit payments to the state in which the order was made. There are four main types of child support cases: IV-D, IV-A, IV-E and non-IV-D. These terms refer to Title IV of the 1975 Social Security Act, which addresses the grants made to states in order to provide aid and services to families with children in need.

IV-D cases refer to situations where a person receives assistance from the Office of Child Support Enforcement, including establishing paternity, finding the noncustodial parent or enforcing an order for child support. IV-A cases are those in which the custodial parent receives public assistance. Even though the noncustodial parent may be fully involved, the OCSE endeavors to recoup public assistance funds. In IV-E cases, a foster parent or relative is providing care for the children.

Most child support orders that stem from divorce are classified as non-IV-D cases. In these instances, the Office of Child Support Enforcement is not involved, and child support is handled privately between the parents. However, it is possible for this kind of child support case to become an IV-D case if the noncustodial parent fails to fulfill the child support order, and collection is sought for unpaid support.

Over time, family situations can change, and parents may face job losses or other economic crises. A family law attorney can work with a noncustodial parent to seek a child support modification if he or she is no longer able to meet the obligation. This can help a parent protect him or herself under the law while adjusting the order to reflect his or her changed realities.