How can I locate my ex for child support?

It is any custodial parent’s nightmare: My ex-spouse has disappeared and is not making child support payments. I need that money to help feed, clothe and shelter my child—what should I do? What can I do? In California, the Department of Child Support Services is your first and best resource for help.

According to the state agency, your first step should be contacting the county or regional office of DCSS and opening a child support case. A caseworker will interview you to gather information about the family, including the non-custodial parent who has disappeared. To help enforce a child support order, or to obtain one, the agency must first locate the missing parent. Several resources can help in finding the parent, including these:

  • Military records
  • Social Services records
  • State licensing boards
  • Credit reporting agencies
  • U.S. Post Office

In addition to these, the department can reach out to previous and current employers, unemployment benefits agencies and law enforcement and parole personnel. The state Department of Motor Vehicles is another resource, with records of vehicle registration and driver’s licenses.

Businesses in California and other states must report information on new employees, including names and addresses, as well as Social Security numbers, which DCSS can then access. Employers must also report identifying information for independent contractors who earn $600 or more, which can aid the agency find parents who are self-employed.

If the parent has moved out-of-state, there are still plenty of ways to track him or her down. Each state, as well as many countries, have some agency tasked with the job of enforcing child support orders, and they all work together on this common goal. The Federal Parent Locator Service can help locate the parent as well. There is a national directory for all new hires, as well as state directories. The locator service gathers information from this directory, as well as the Federal Case Registry, about those owing child support.

For those who live locally, you can contact the San Francisco Department of Child Support Services for information about enforcing a child support order. Call the Mission Street office at 866-901-3212.

This article features general information about child support and is not intended as legal advice.