All About Going to Court
Hearings involving the Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) are held in Department 52 of the Contra Costa County Superior Court, located in the Peter L. Spinetta Family Law Center at 751 Pine Street in Martinez, California.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where should I park?
What should I bring to court?
- Parking can be scarce in Martinez during the week so arrive 30 minutes before your scheduled hearing to ensure you've got time to find a spot.
- Street parking is metered - bring quarters and dimes with you for the meters.
Who may come to court with me?
- Income information
- A current paystub from your job, unemployment, disability, workers' compensation, etc.
- A copy of your last tax return
- A current profit & loss statement if you're self-employed
- Copies of court documents
- Notice(s) of Motion
- Responsive Declaration(s)
- Income & Expense Declaration(s)
- Seek Work Logs
- Your child support record of payment, audit, or other accounting, if available
- Four (4) copies of any document you want to present to the court as evidence, such as
- child care receipts
- medical bills
- log of visitation time with child(ren)
- The Family Law Center is a secured building with airport-style security screening - don't bring food, beverages, pocket knives or similar items with you.
Where do I go and what do I do, once I get to the courthouse?
- The courtroom is public so anyone, except children, may attend a hearing.
- Only you or your attorney may address the court during the hearing. Let the DCSS attorney know if you have a witness you want to testify.
- Minors (children under 18 years of age) are not allowed in the courtroom, and there is no childcare available at the courthouse.
How much will I have to pay?
- Enter through the main doors, place any bags, jackets or other items on the conveyor - they and you will pass through a metal detector on your way into the building.
- Department 52 is upstairs on the right side. If you use the elevator, you'll be facing Department 52 as you step out of the lift.
- Silence your cell phone, enter the courtroom, and take a seat.
- DCSS staff will call your case and speak with you about the issues to be heard.
- The bailiff will call you forward and request you sign a stipulation. This is an agreement that allows the Family Law Commissioner to hear your case.
What if I don't have an attorney?
- DCSS and the court both use a computer program called Guideline Calculator to calculate appropriate child support payments, based on factors including gross income (before taxes), tax filing status, visitation, child care costs, health insurance costs, union dues, etc.
- You can also use the Guideline Calculator to get an estimate of what you'll owe.
Even though the DCSS attorney doesn't represent you or the other party, he or she will introduce the case, explain why we're here and where the two parties agree and disagree. You'll have a chance to address the court and explain your position.
What if I can't attend the hearing because I live too far away?
Can I change the date of my hearing?
- With advance approval, you may be able to participate by phone
- Complete and print Form FL-679 - Request for Telephone Appearance and file it with the court.
- After the request is approved, send copies to the other party and to DCSS.
What happens after court?
- There are very few reasons that qualify to change your court date - no guarantees.
- The court can proceed with the hearing, even if you're not there.
- You should make every effort to be available on the date scheduled.
- If DCSS filed the Notice of Motion, you can contact DCSS and ask if the court date can be changed.
- After the hearing, return to your seat. The Commissioner's orders will be documented, signed, and filed. If you're able to wait 5 - 10 minutes after the hearing, you'll receive a copy of the order before you go.
- If today's hearing results in the modification of an existing order, it may take several weeks to see the change in your payment amount.
- If hearings are finished early, the DCSS attorney or a child support specialist may be available to explain your order and answer questions. There are also other avenues of assistance available to you:
- The Family Law Facilitator is an attorney who works for the court and provides limited free legal assistance. You may visit the Facilitator's Office on the 1st floor of the Family Law Center or call at (925) 957-7887.
- Call, drop in, or e-mail DCSS to discuss your order.
- Login to Customer Connect, California's self-service child support information system.