The Use of Private Child Support Collection Agencies in California.

The Role of Private Child Support Collection Agencies in California

In the State of California, child support is a legal obligation that requires non-custodial parents to provide financial support for their children. While the California Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) is primarily responsible for enforcing these support orders, there are situations where individuals may turn to private child support collection agencies. This article explores the nuances of using such agencies within California.

Understanding Private Child Support Collection Agencies

Private child support collection agencies are for-profit entities that operate independently of state government. They offer services to custodial parents who have not received the child support payments they are due. These agencies typically charge a fee for their services, which may be a flat rate, a percentage of the collected amount, or a combination of both.

Why Consider a Private Agency?

Some custodial parents opt for private agencies when they experience delays or inefficiencies with state-run programs. Private agencies may promise more personalized attention and assertive tactics in pursuing delinquent payments. They often tout their ability to track down non-custodial parents who have moved out of state or are otherwise evading their obligations.

The Pros and Cons

There are both advantages and disadvantages associated with private collection agencies. On the plus side, these agencies can potentially expedite the process and recover funds more quickly than state services. They might also have more resources dedicated to investigative actions. However, the costs associated with these services can be significant, and there is no guarantee of success. Moreover, some critics argue that the aggressive practices of certain private agencies can complicate family dynamics or result in legal challenges.

Regulation and Oversight

In California, private child support collection agencies are regulated under the Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). These laws provide a framework to protect consumers from abusive practices and ensure ethical conduct by collection firms. Any agency operating within the state must adhere to these regulations or face penalties.

Selecting a Reputable Agency

For those considering this route, it is crucial to conduct thorough research before selecting a private collection agency. Evaluating an agency's track record, checking for licensure, and understanding its fee structure are all essential steps to ensure that you are working with a reputable and effective organization.

An Alternative to State Services

While DCSS provides free services to collect child support, the workload and bureaucratic nature of government services can lead to delays. For this reason, private companies remain an option for those seeking an alternative path to securing owed payments.


The use of private child support collection agencies in California offers an additional avenue for custodial parents to obtain owed child support. However, it is vital for individuals to weigh the potential benefits against the costs and risks involved. By understanding the regulations governing these agencies and carefully vetting potential partners, custodial parents can make informed decisions on how best to manage their child support collections.