Opinions are like belly buttons; everybody has one. Lawyers are no different. The first guy has one answer for every question. (A guy with a hammer sees nails everywhere.) The second guy blasts the first guy, justifiably, but then reads facts into the question that simply do not appear. Where does the question say that this is a "support obligation?"
In my opinion, this sounds like a garden variety case of mistaken identity or sewer service. Either the debt is yours or it is not. If it is not your debt, you may have been mistaken for a debtor with a similar name as yours. Debt collectors and debt scavengers (debt buyers) often have limited information about the accounts they are collecting. If the debt is not yours, you need a complete copy of the court file and a consumer attorney who understands debt collection lawsuits and California court procedures.
If the debt is yours or might be yours, then what has likely happened is simple sewer service. When a lawsuit is filed, the Defendant (you) must be served with the Summons and Complaint (court papers). This task is done by independent process servers who are hired by the collection attorney on a lowest-cost basis to deliver the court papers to you. These process servers are paid a low flat fee to serve the court papers on somebody - anybody. They are often provided an obsolete address by the debt scavenger. When they go to that old address and are told that you do not live there, the process server simply throws the court documents in the sewer and says that you were served. Hence the name, “sewer service.”
If this is a case of sewer service, my advice is the same. You need a complete copy of the court file and a consumer attorney who understands debt collection lawsuits and court procedures in Oakland, California.
In California, you have 2 years to set aside a judgment if you were never served with the court papers. If you were served with the court papers, you have no more than 180 days to have the judgment set aside. In either event, you need to see an experienced consumer attorney immediately.
You should disregard everything Mr. Alexander posted. He is a WA lawyer and he is guessing as to CA law. More importantly, his guess is wrong.
Wages can be garnished if there is an existing child support order and payments are not being made under it. You should have received 15 days advance notice that the garnishment would be sought, but other than that, a garnishment is normally granted without a hearing. If you wish to have a hearing, you must request one from the court using the appropriate judicial council form. There does not appear to be anything wrong with the garnishment in your case; if you wish it to be modified, you must file an application with the court.
Again, Mr. Alexander is wrong that federal consumer protection laws apply to child support orders and their enforcement.