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Court Locations and Information
118 E. Figueroa Street
Santa Barbara, CA 93101
Phone: (805) 568-3959
Fax: (805) 882-4647
7:45 am - 3:00 pm
312 E. Cook Street, Suite C
Santa Maria, CA 93454
Phone: (805) 614-6414
Fax: (805) 604-1616
8:00 am - 3:00 pm
115 Civic Center Plaza
Lompoc, CA 93436
Phone: (805) 737-7789
Fax: (805) 737-5440
8:00 am - 3:00 pm
Appearing in Court
Depending upon the circumstances of your child support case, you may be required to appear in court. We understand this can be an intimidating environment; we want to help you be as comfortable and prepared as possible, since many important things are decided in court. Here are some suggestions for making your court appearance as productive and painless as possible.
Before the Hearing:
- Contact Child Support Services a week before your scheduled hearing date and make sure you have the correct date, time and location of the hearing.
- Write down what you want to tell the Commissioner at the hearing. Make it as brief as possible, staying focused on the issues in question. You will not be allowed to read a statement in court but you can use what you've written down to remind yourself of the important points you want to make.
- Bring with you to court three copies of all documents that might help you prove the facts of your case. If you have a job, it is important that you bring three copies of your 3 most recent paystubs.
- Make arrangements for your children to stay with someone while you are in court. Children are not allowed in the courtroom. If your child is between the ages of 2 ½ to 12 years old and you are attending court in Santa Barbara city, your children may use the Children's Waiting Room located at 118 East Figueroa Street. It is open between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. and is free of charge to people with a court hearing. Please note there is no supervision provided.
At the Hearing:
- Arrive a few minutes early, and remember to give yourself plenty of time to locate parking and find the courtroom. Parking is especially challenging in Santa Barbara city.
- Dress and act in a professional manner. You will not be allowed in the courtroom if you are wearing shorts, flip flops, tank tops, or t-shirts with offensive slogans, for example. When your case is first called, stand and let the Commissioner know you are in the courtroom.
- Be sure to turn off your cell phone before entering the courtroom. If you need to answer your cell phone, step outside the courtroom to do so.
- Step outside of the courtroom to carry on any conversations with companions or your attorney.
When Your Case is Called for Hearing:
- Come forward to the table in front of the Commissioner. If you are the parent receiving support sit on the right at the table and if you are the person paying support sit on the left.
- Wait until the Commissioner addresses you before you speak.
- Never make remarks to the other party. Always address your comments to the Commissioner.
- Never argue with or interrupt the other party, the Commissioner, or the attorneys. You will be given a chance to tell your side of the case, so be patient and show respect.
- When presenting your side of the case, be as brief and to the point as possible, since this helps the Commissioner focus on the issues you are presenting. In addition, the Child Support courtroom is usually very busy and there are other parents waiting for their turn to be heard, so be organized and to the point so everyone has a chance to be heard. Always address the Commissioner as "Your Honor" or "Commissioner", and show respect in your manner.
- When you present your case, tell the Commissioner about any document you want the court to consider, and hand it to the Child Support Services attorney. S/he will review it, and then hand it to the bailiff to give to the Commissioner. Do not attempt to approach the Commissioner yourself.
- If you have a question after the Commissioner has made a decision, you can address the court by saying something like, "Excuse me, Your Honor, I have a question", and you will be given the opportunity to speak.
- Although it may be difficult, try not to be nervous when you appear in court. Just remember to be polite, stick to the issues at hand, and avoid interrupting or making remarks to the other parent.
Important Things to Remember:
- The amount of child support a person must pay is set by law. There is a mathematical formula (a "guideline") that is used to determine how much a person must pay. California law states that the Commissioner must follow the guideline formula except under very specific conditions that can be found in California Family Code section 4057. These specific conditions do not apply to most child support cases.
- The guideline formula is based on a number of factors, including, but not limited to:
- It is important for each parent to remember that the state of California has said, by law, that:
1. Custody and visitation time (actual)
2. Wages and salaries of both parents
3. Tax filing status of both parents and number of exemptions claimed
4. Other types and amounts of income of the parents
5. Child support paid for children of other relationships
6. Number of children from other relationships in either home
1. A parent's first and principal obligation is to support his or her minor children according to the parent's circumstances and station in life
2. Both parents are mutually responsible for the support of their children
3. The guideline formula seeks to place the interests of children as the state's highest priority