The state of California takes a keen interest in making sure that parents help provide for the care of their children. That is one of the main reasons why a local child support agency will file suit against a person who is suspected of being a child's parent. Typically, this is done automatically whenever a child receives support provided by the state.
In most cases, a local child support agency will personally serve you, or someone you know, with a summons and complaint. This is known as personal service, and you must respond to those documents within 30 days of the day that you received them. It's important that you don't ignore these documents because they will not simply disappear and go away, and they could ultimately have a serious impact on your life for many years down the road.
Although you could personally appear in court at the date and time specified on your summons, there are several advantages to retaining a lawyer with experience in California family law. For example, your attorney can visit with you and discuss the particulars of your case. If you dispute the paternity of a child named in the complaint, your attorney might advise you to undergo DNA testing to challenge that allegation.
If there is no dispute regarding paternity, your attorney can advise you on how much child support you may be expected to contribute. Generally, that amount is determined using a set of guidelines that have been established under California law. These guidelines typically take into account the monthly income of both parents as well as the amount of time each parent contributes towards the care of the child involved.
Another advantage to having an attorney representing you in your child support case involves physical custody and visitation rights. A parent who provides the primary residence for a child will typically not have to pay child support. You may consider with your attorney whether having more access to your child might provide you a more favorable outcome.
Source: Child's Up. California.gov, "Establishing a Child Support Order," accessed May. 13, 2015