The following list ofterms and acronyms, used in Child Support Enforcement cases, is found at Legal Help USA:

Accrual

Sum of child support payments that are due or overdue.

Action Transmittal

Document sent out as needed, which instructs State child support programs on the actions they must take to comply with new and amended Federal laws. Has basis in Federal law and regulation.

Adjudication

The entry of a judgment, decree, or order by a judge or other decision-maker such as a master, referee, or hearing officer based on the evidence submitted by the parties.

Automated Administrative Enforcement of Interstate Cases (AEI)

Provision in the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) giving States the ability to locate, place a lien on, and seize financial assets of delinquent obligors across State lines.

Administrative Procedure

Method by which support orders are made and enforced by an executive agency rather than by courts and judges.

Administration for Children and Families (ACF)

The agency in the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) that houses the Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE).

Affidavit

A written statement signed under oath or by affirmation, which is usually notarized.

Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC)

Former entitlement program that made public assistance payments on behalf of children who did not have the financial support of one of their parents by reason of death, disability, or continued absence from the home; known in many States as ADC (Aid to Dependent Children). Replaced with Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF) under the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA).

(See also: Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act)

Alleged Father

A person who has been named as the father of a child born out of wedlock, but who has not been legally determined to be the father; also referred to as putative father.

Arrearage

Past due, unpaid child support owed by the non-custodial parent. If the parent has arrearages, s/he is said to be "in arrears."

Assignment of Support Rights

The legal procedure by which a person receiving public assistance agrees to turn over to the State any right to child support, including arrearages, paid by the non-custodial parent in exchange for receipt of a cash assistance grant and other benefits. States can then use a portion of said child support to defray or recoup the public assistance expenditure.

Automated Voice Response System (AVR)

Telephone system that makes frequently requested information available to clients over touch-tone telephones.

Burden of Proof

The duty of a party to produce the greater weight of evidence on a point at issue.

Case

A collection of people associated with a particular child support order, court hearing, and/or request for IV-D services. This typically includes a Custodial Party (CP), a dependent(s), and a Non-custodial Parent (NCP) and/or Putative Father (PF). Every child support case has a unique Case ID number and, in addition to names and identifying information about its members, includes information such as CP and NCP wage data, court order details, and NCP payment history.

(See also: Child Support; IV-D; IV-D Case; IV-A Case; IV-E Case)

Case Initiation

First step in the child support enforcement process.

Case Law

Law established by the history of judicial decisions in cases.

Case Member

Participant in child support case; a member can participate in more than one case.

Case ID

Unique identification number assigned to a case.

Cash Concentration and Disbursement "Plus" (CCD+)

Standardized format used for electronic funds transmission (EFT) of child support withholdings from an employee’s wages.

(See also: Electronic Funds Transfer)

Central Registry

A centralized unit, maintained by every State IV-D agency that is responsible for receiving, distributing, and responding to inquiries on interstate IV-D cases.

Centralized Collection Unit

A single, centralized site in each State IV-D agency to which employers can send child support payments they have collected for processing. This centralized payment-processing site is called the State Disbursement Unit (SDU) and is responsible for collecting, distributing, and disbursing child support payments.

(See also: State Disbursement Unit)

Child Support

Financial support paid by a parent to help support a child or children of whom they do not have custody. Child support can be entered into voluntarily or ordered by a court or a properly empowered administrative agency, depending on each State’s laws. Child support can involve cases where:

  • IV-D cases, where the custodial party (CP) is receiving child support services offered by State and local agencies; (such services include locating a non-custodial parent (NCP) or putative father (PF); establishing paternity; establishing, modifying, and enforcing child support orders; collecting distributing, and disbursing child support payments).
  • IV-A cases, where the CP is receiving public assistance benefits and the case is automatically referred to the State Child Support Enforcement CSE) Agency so the State can recoup the cost of the benefits from the non-custodial parent (NCP) or defray future costs.
  • IV-E cases, where the child(ren) is being raised not by one of their own parents but in the foster care system by a person, family, or institution and the case is also automatically referred to the CSE to recoup or defray the costs of foster care.
  • Non IV-D orders, where the case or legal order is privately entered into and the CSE is not providing locate, enforcement, or collection services (called); often entered into during divorce proceedings.

The support can come in different forms, including:

  • Medical support, where the child(ren) are provided with health coverage, through private insurance from the non-custodial parent (NCP) or public assistance that is reimbursed whole or in part by the NCP, or a combination thereof.
  • Monetary payments, in the form of a one-time payment, installments, or regular automatic withholdings from the NCP’s income, or the offset of State and/or Federal tax refunds and/or administrative payments made to the NCP, such as Federal retirement benefits.

There are many tools available to enforce an NCP’s obligation.

(See also: IV-D; IV-D Case; Non IV-D orders; IV-A; IV-A Case; IV-E; Enforcement)

Child Support Enforcement (CSE) Agency

Agency that exists in every State that locates non-custodial parents (NCPs) or putative fathers (PF), establishes, enforces, and modifies child support, and collects and distributes child support money. Operated by State or local government according to the Child Support Enforcement Program guidelines as set forth in Title IV-D of the Social Security Act. Also known as a "IV-D Agency".

(See also: IV-D)

Child Support Enforcement Network (CSENet)

State-to-State telecommunications network, which transfers detailed information between States’ automated child support enforcement systems.

Child Support Pass-Through

Provision by which at least $50 from a child support payment collected on behalf of a public assistance recipient is disbursed directly to the non-custodial parent. The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) of 1996 eliminated the pass-through effective October 1, 1996. A few States have elected to retain the pass-through, paying it out of State, rather than Federal, money. Also known as Child Support "Disregard."

(See also: Public Assistance)

Client

A term often used to refer to the recipient of a TANF grant or IV-D services.

Common Law

A body of law developed from judicial decisions or custom rather than legislative enactments.

Complainant

Person who seeks to initiate court proceedings against another person. In a civil case the complainant is the plaintiff; in a criminal case the complainant is the State.

Complaint

The formal written document filed in a court whereby the complainant sets forth the names of the parties, the allegations, and the request for relief sought. Sometimes called the initial pleading or petition.

CONNECT:Direct (C:D)

Computer network maintained by the Social Security Administration that moves large volumes of data from State agencies and the National Directory of New Hires (NDNH) and the Federal Case Registry (FCR). Formally known as Network Data Mover (NDM).

Consent Agreement

Voluntary written admission of paternity or responsibility for child support.

Consumer Credit Agencies (CCA)

Private agencies that a State can use to locate obligors to establish and enforce child support.

Consumer Credit Protection Act (CCPA)

Federal law that limits the amount that may be withheld from earnings to satisfy child support obligations. States are allowed to set their own limits provided they do not exceed the Federal limits. Regardless of the number or withholding orders that have been served, the maximum that may be withheld for child support is:

Without arrearage

50% with a second family

60% Single

With Arrearage

55% with a second family and 12+ weeks in arrears

65% Single 12+ weeks in arrears

Continuing Exclusive Jurisdiction (CEJ)

The doctrine that only one support order should be effective and enforceable between the same parties at any one time and that when a particular court has acquired jurisdiction to determine child support and custody, it retains authority to amend and modify its orders therein. This Court of Continuing Exclusive Jurisdiction (CCEJ) continues to have jurisdiction over a support issue until another court takes it away. Defined in the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA).

(See also: Uniform Interstate Family Support Act)

Cooperation

As a condition of TANF eligibility whereby the recipient is required to cooperate with the child support agency in identifying and locating the non-custodial parent, establishing paternity, and/or obtaining child support payments.

Cooperative Agreement

Federal regulations provide that the child support agencies may contract with local jurisdictions or private entities for the provision of certain child support enforcement services via this type of agreement which sets out the responsibilities of each agency under the contractual relationship.

Corporate Trade Exchange (CTX)

Standardized format used for electronic funds transmission (EFT) of child support withholdings from employees’ wages. This method is preferable when processing large volumes of transactions and PRWORA requires state automated child support enforcement systems to be capable of using this format as well as the CCD+ format.

Court Order

A legally binding edict issued by a court of law. Issued by a magistrate, judge, or properly empowered administrative officer. A court order related to child support can dictate how often, how much, what kind of support a non-custodial parent is to pay, how long he or she is to pay it, and whether an employer must withhold support from their wages.

Custodial Party (CP)

The person who has primary care, custody, and control of the child(ren).

Custody

Legal custody is a determination by a court which establishes with whom a child will live. Physical custody describes with whom the child is living regardless of the legal custody status. Joint custody occurs when two persons where legal and/or physical custody of the child(ren). Split custody occurs when 2 or more children from the same person are in the legal custody of different people.

Custody Order

Legally binding determination that establishes with whom a child shall live. The meaning of different types of custody terms (e.g., Joint Custody, Shared Custody, Split Custody) vary from State to State.

Decree

The judicial decision of a litigated action, usually in "equitable" cases such as divorce (as opposed to cases in law in which judgments are entered).

Default

The failure of a defendant to file an answer or appear in a civil case within the prescribed time after having been properly served with a summons and complaint.

Default Judgment

A decision made by the court or administrative authority when the respondent fails to respond or appear.

Defendant

The person against whom a civil or criminal proceeding is begun.

Dependent

A child who is under the care of someone else. Most children who are eligible to receive child support must be a dependent. The child ceases to be a dependent when they reach the "age of emancipation" as determined by State law, but depending on the State’s provisions, may remain eligible for child support for a period after they are emancipated.

Direct Income Withholding

A procedure, whereby an income withholding order can be sent directly to the non-custodial parent’s (NCP’s) employer in another State, without the need to use the IV-D Agency or court system in the NCP’s State. This triggers withholding unless the NCP contests, and no pleadings or registration are required. The Act does not restrict who may send an income withholding notice across State lines. Although the sender will ordinarily be a child support Agency or the obligee, the obligor or any other person may supply an employer with an income withholding order.

(See also: Income Withholding; Wage Withholding)

Disbursement

The paying out of collected child support funds.

Disclosure Prohibited Notice

A notice that the Federal Case Registry (FCR) is required to send to a party that has requested locate information stating that the information cannot be disclosed because the person being sought has a family violence indicator (FVI) on either a IV-D case or a non IV-D order in the FCR.

(See also: Family Violence Indicator)

Disposable Income

The portion of an employee’s earnings that remains after deductions required by law (e.g., taxes) and that is used to determine the amount of an employee’s pay subject to a garnishment, attachment, or child support withholding order.

Disposition

The court’s decision of what should be done about a dispute that has been brought to its attention. For instance, the disposition of the court may be that child support is ordered or an obligation is modified.

Distribution

The allocation of child support collected to the various types of debt within a child support case, as specified in 45 CFR 302.51, (e.g., monthly support obligations, arrears, ordered arrears, etc.).

Docket

A formal brief record of proceedings in court; minutes entries in case files; the calendar of a court or administrative tribunal. Some courts refer to filing a paper with the court as docketing.

Domicile

The place an individual has as a permanent home and where, after an absence, the person intends to return. A residence is not equivalent to a domicile as a person may have several transitory residences.

Due Process

The conduct of legal proceedings according to those rules and principles which have been established in our system of law for the enforcement and protection of private rights. It is a safeguard against unreasonable, arbitrary, and capricious decisions. Generally, due process means that an individual receives "notice" of an action that could affect him/her and has the opportunity to "contest" the notice.

Electronic Data Interchange (EDI)

Process by which information regarding an Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) transaction is transmitted electronically along with the EFT funds transfer.

Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT)

Process by which money is transmitted electronically from one bank account to another.

(See also: Cash Concentration and Disbursement "Plus" (CCD+); Corporate Trade Exchange (CTX)

Enforcement

The application of remedies to obtain payment of a child or medical support obligation contained in a child and/or spousal support order. Examples of remedies includes garnishment of wages, seizure of assets, liens placed on assets, revocation of license (e.g., drivers, business, medical, etc.), denial of U.S. passports, etc.

Enumeration and Verification System (EVS)

System used to verify and correct Social Security Numbers (SSNs), and identify multiple SSNs, of participants in child support cases. Operated by the Social Security Administration (SSA).

Establishment

The process of proving paternity and/or obtaining a court or administrative order to put a child support obligation in place.

External Locate Source

A source of locate information (that is not part of the Federal Parent Locator Service) on a non-custodial parent (NCP) who works for a Federal Agency.

Family Support Act

Law passed in 1988, with two major mandates: Immediate Wage Withholding, unless courts find that there is good cause not require such withholding, or there is a written agreement between both parties requiring an alternative arrangement; and Guidelines for Child Support Award Amounts, which requires States to use guidelines to determine the amount of support for each family, unless they are rebutted by a written finding that applying the guidelines would be inappropriate to the case.

Family Violence (FV) Indicator

A designation that resides in the Federal Case Registry (FCR) placed on a participant in a case or order by a State that indicates a person is associated with child abuse or domestic violence. It is used to prevent disclosure of the location of a custodial party and/or a child believed by the State to be at risk of family violence.

(See also: Disclosure Prohibited Notice)

Federal Case Registry (FCR)

A national database of information on individuals in all IV-D cases, and all non IV-D orders entered or modified on or after October 1, 1998. The FCR receives this case information on a daily basis from the State Case Registry (SCR) located in every State, proactively matches it with previous submissions to the FCR and with employment information contained in the National Directory of New Hires (NDNH). Any successful matches are returned to the appropriate State(s) for processing. The FCR and the NDNH are both part of the expanded FPLS, which is maintained by OCSE.

Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN)

Unique nine-digit number assigned to all employers by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), which must be used in numerous transactions, including submitting data and responding to requests relevant to child support.

Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) Code

A unique five-digit code that identifies the child support jurisdiction, (i.e., States, counties, central state registries).

Federal Parent Locator Service (FPLS)

A computerized national location network operated by the Federal Office of Child Support (OCSE) of the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), within the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). FPLS obtains address and employer information, as well as data on child support cases in every State, compares them and returns matches to the appropriate States. This helps State and local child support enforcement agencies locate non-custodial parents and putative fathers for the purposes of establishing custody and visitation rights, establishing and enforcing child support obligations, investigating parental kidnapping, and processing adoption or foster care cases. The expanded FPLS includes the Federal Case Registry (FCR) and the National Directory of New Hires (NDNH).

Federal Tax Refund Offset Program

Program that collects past due child support amounts from non-custodial parents through the interception of their Federal income tax refund, or an administrative payment, such as Federal retirement benefits. This program also incorporates the Passport Denial Program, which denies U.S. passports at the time of application when the applicant’s child support debts exceed $5,000. In the future, the program will expand to include the revocation and/or restriction of already issued passports. The cooperation of States in the submittal of cases for tax interception is mandatory, while submittal of cases for administrative interception is optional. The Federal Tax Refund Offset Program is operated in cooperation with the Internal Revenue Service, the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Financial Management Service (FMS), the U.S. Department of State, and State Child Support Enforcement (CSE) Agencies.

Foster Care

A Federal-State program which provides financial support to a person, family, or institution that is raising a child or children that are not their own.

(See also: IV-E; IV-E Case)

Fraud

A deception deliberately practiced in order to secure unfair or unlawful gain.

Full Faith and Credit

Doctrine under which a State must honor an order or judgment entered in another State.

Full Faith and Credit for Child Support Orders Act (FFCCSOA)

Law effective October 20, 1994, which requires States to enforce child support orders made by other States if: the issuing State’s tribunal had subject matter jurisdiction to hear and resolve the matter and enter an order; the issuing State’s tribunal had personal jurisdiction over the parties; and, reasonable notice and the opportunity to be heard was given to the parties. FFCCSOA also limits a State’s ability to modify another States’ child support orders in instances when: the State tribunal seeking to modify the order has jurisdiction to do so; and, the tribunal that originally issued the order no longer has continuing, exclusive jurisdiction over the order either because the child and the parties to the case are no longer residents of the issuing State, or the parties to the case have filed written consent to transfer continuing exclusive jurisdiction to be transferred to the tribunal seeking to make the modification. Unlike the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA), FFCCSOA does not amend Title IV-D of the Social Security Act and thus does not directly change IV-D program requirements, but affects interstate case processing. Codified as 28 USC §1738B.

Garnishee

The person upon whom a garnishment is served.

Garnishment

A legal proceeding under which part of a person’s wages and/or assets is withheld for payment of a debt. This term is usually used to specify that an income or wage withholding is involuntary.

(See also: Income Withholding; Wage Withholding; Direct Income Withholding; Immediate Wage Withholding)

Genetic Testing

Analysis of inherited factors to determine legal fatherhood or paternity.

Good Cause

A legal reason for which a Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) recipient is excused from cooperating with the child support enforcement process, such as past physical harm by the child’s father. It also includes situations where rape or incest resulted in the conception of the child and situations where the mother is considering placing the child for adoption.

(See also: Temporary Assistance to Needy Families; IV-A Case)

Guidelines

A standard method for setting child support obligations based on the income of the parent(s) and other factors determined by State law. The Family Support Act of 1988 requires States to use guidelines to determine the amount of support for each family, unless they are rebutted by a written finding that applying the guidelines would be inappropriate to the case.

(See also: Income; Disposable Income; Imputed Income)

Hearing

A proceeding in which a judge or hearing officer listens to testimony and argument and makes a decision based on the information presented and the law as it applies to the facts.

HR Bills

Bills introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives begin with the letters "HR".

IV-A ("Four-A")

Reference to Title IV-A of the Social Security Act covering the Federal-State Public Assistance Program.

IV-A Case

A child support case in which a custodial parent and child(ren) is receiving public assistance benefits under the State’s IV-A program, which is funded under Title IV-A of the Social Security Act. Applicants for assistance from IV-A programs are automatically referred to their State IV-D agency in order to identify and locate the non-custodial parent, establish paternity and/or a child support order, and/or obtain child support payments. This allows the State to recoup or defray some of its public assistance expenditures with funds from the non-custodial parent.

(See also: Temporary Assistance to Needy Families; Public Assistance)

IV-D ("Four-D")

Reference to Title IV-D of the Social Security Act, which required that each State create a program to locate non-custodial parents, establish paternity, establish and enforce child support obligations, and collect and distribute support payments. All recipients of public assistance (usually TANF) are referred to their State’s IV-D child support program. States must also accept applications from families who do not receive public assistance, if requested, to assist in collection of child support. Title IV-D also established the Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement.

IV-D Agency

A single and separate organizational unit in a state that has the responsibility for administering the State Plan for child support under Title IV-D of the Social Security Act.

IV-D Case

A child support case where at least one of the parties, either the custodial party (CP) or the non- custodial parent (NCP), has requested or received IV-D services from the State’s IV-D agency. A IV-D case is composed of a custodial party, non-custodial parent, or putative father, and dependent(s).

IV-E ("Four-E")

Reference to Title IV-E of the Social Security Act, which established a Federal-State program known as Foster Care that provides financial support to a person, family, or institution that is raising a child or children that is not their own. The funding for IV-E Foster Care programs is primarily from Federal sources.

(See also: Foster Care)

IV-E Case

A child support case in which the State is providing benefits or services under Title IV-E of the Social Security Act to a person, family, or institution that is raising a child or children that are not their own. As with other public assistance cases, recipients are referred to their State IV-D agency in order to identify and locate the non-custodial parent, establish paternity and/or a child support order, and/or obtain child support payments. This allows the State to recoup or defray some of its public assistance expenditures with funds from the non-custodial parent.

Immediate Wage Withholding

An automatic deduction from income that starts as soon as the agreement for support is established.

(See also: Income Withholding; Wage Withholding)

Imputed Income

Fringe benefits provided to employees that may be taxable but which cannot be counted as additional disposable income that is subject to child support obligations.

(See also: Disposable Earnings; Guidelines)

Income

As defined by the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA), income is any periodic form of payment to an individual, regardless of source, including wages, salaries, commissions, bonuses, worker’s compensation, disability, pension, or retirement program payments and interest. All income (except imputed income; see above) is subject to income withholding for child support, pursuant to a child support order, but is protected by Consumer Credit Protection Act limits, both State and federal.

(See also: Consumer Credit Protection Act; Disposable Earnings; Guidelines)

Income Withholding

Procedure by which automatic deductions are made from wages or income, as defined in the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA), to pay a debt such as child support. Income withholding often is incorporated into the child support order and may be voluntary or involuntary. The provision dictates that an employer must withhold support from a non-custodial parent’s wages and transfer that withholding to the appropriate agency (the Centralized Collection Unit or State Disbursement Unit). Sometimes referred to as wage withholding.

(See also: Wage Withholding; Direct Income Withholding, a type of interstate Income Withholding; Immediate Wage Withholding)

Information Memorandum (IM)

Document that provides State child support enforcement agencies with information on program practices that can be useful to program improvement.

Initiating Jurisdiction

The State or county court, or administrative agency, which sends a request for action to another jurisdiction in interstate child support cases. The requested action can include a request for wage withholding or for review and adjustment of existing child support obligations. In cases where a State is trying to establish an initial child support order on behalf of a resident custodial parent, and they do not have Long Arm Jurisdiction (i.e., they cannot legally claim personal jurisdiction over a person who is not a resident), they must file a Two-State action under the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA) guidelines.

(See also: Long Arm Jurisdiction; Two-State Action; Uniform Interstate Family Support Act)

Intercept

A method of securing child support by taking a portion of non-wage payments made to a non-custodial parent. Non-wage payments subject to interception include Federal tax refunds, State tax refunds, unemployment benefits, and disability benefits.

(See also: Federal Tax Refund Offset Program)

Interstate Cases

Cases in which the dependent child and non-custodial parent (NCP) live in different States, or where two or more States are involved in some case activity, such as enforcement.

Judgment

The official decision or finding of a judge or administrative agency hearing officer upon the respective rights and claims of the parties to an action; also known as a decree or order and may include the "findings of fact and conclusions of law."

Judicial Remedies

A general designation for a court’s enforcement of child support obligations.

Jurisdiction

The legal authority which a court or administrative agency has over particular persons and over certain types of cases, usually in a defined geographical area.

(See also: Initiating Jurisdiction; Long Arm Jurisdiction)

Legal Father

A man who is recognized by law as the male parent of a child.

Lien

A claim upon property to prevent sale or transfer of that property until a debt is satisfied.

Litigation

A civil action in which a controversy is brought before the court.

Locate

Process by which a non-custodial parent (NCP) or putative father (PF) is found for the purpose of establishing paternity, establishing and/or enforcing a child support obligation, establishing custody and visitation rights, processing adoption or foster care cases, and investigating parental kidnapping.

Locate Information

Data used to locate a Putative Father (PF) or non-custodial parent (NCP). May include their Social Security Number (SSN), date of birth (DOB), residential address, and employer.

Long Arm Jurisdiction

Legal provision that permits one State to claim personal jurisdiction over someone who lives in another State. There must be some meaningful connection between the person and the State or district that is asserting jurisdiction in order for a court or agency to reach beyond its normal jurisdictional border. If a Long Arm Statute is not in effect between two States, then the State must undertake a Two-State Action under the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA) guidelines for certain actions, such as establishing a support order in which the non-custodial parent (NCP) is not a resident. Other actions, such as Direct Income Withholding, are allowed by UIFSA in such a way that neither a Two-State Action nor Long Arm Jurisdiction are required.

(See also: Two-State Action; Uniform Interstate Family Support Act)

Medical Assistance Only (MAO)

Form of public assistance administered by a State’s IV-A program, which provides benefits to recipients only in the form of medical, rather than financial, assistance.

Medical Support

Form of child support where medical or dental insurance coverage is paid by the non-custodial parent (NCP). Depending on the court order, medical support can be an NCP’s sole financial obligation, or it can be one of several obligations, with child and/or spousal support being the others.

Motion

An application to the court requesting an order or rule in favor of the party that is filing the motion. Motions are generally made in reference to a pending action and may address a matter in the court’s discretion or concern a point of law.

Monthly Support Obligation (MSO)

The amount of money an obligor is required to pay per month.

Multistate Employer

An organization that hires and employs people in two or more States. The multistate employer conducts business within each State and the employees are required to pay taxes in the State where they work. As with single-state employers, multistate employers are required by law to report all new hires to the State Directory of New Hires (SDNH) operated by their State government. However, unlike single-state employers, they have the option to report all of their new hires to the SDNH of only one State in which they do business rather than to all of them.

Multistate Financial Institution Data Match (MSFIDM)

Process created by the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) of 1996 by which delinquent child support obligors are matched with accounts held in Financial Institutions (FI) doing business in more than one State. States submit data to the Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) on a non-custodial parent (NCP) and their arrearage, and indicate whether the NCP should be submitted for MSFIDM. OCSE ensures the accuracy of the data and transmits the file to participating multistate financial institutions, who match the information against their open accounts and returns matches to the appropriate States, who can then undertake action to place a lien on and seize all or part of the account.

(See also: Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) of 1996)

National Automated Clearing House Association (NACHA)

The association that establishes the standards, rules, and procedures that enable financial institutions to exchange payments on a national basis.

National Directory of New Hires (NDNH)

A national database containing New Hire (NH) and Quarterly Wage (QW) data from every State and Federal agency and Unemployment Insurance (UI) data from State Employment Security Agencies (SESAs). Data contained is first reported to each State’s State Directory of New Hires (SDNH) and then transmitted to the NDNH. OCSE maintains the NDNH as part of the expanded FPLS.

(See also: New Hire Data; Quarterly Wage Date; Unemployment Insurance Claim Data)

National Personnel Records Center (NPRC)

Part of the National Archives and Records Administration’s system of record storage facilities. The NPRC receives and stores both Federal Military and Civilian personnel records.

New Hire (NH) Data

Data on a new employee that employers must submit within 20 days of hire to the State Directory of New Hires (SDNH) in the State in which they do business. Minimum information must include the employee’s name, address, and Social Security Number (SSN), as well as the employer’s name, address, and Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN). Some States may require or request additional data. Multistate employers have the option of reporting all of their newly hired employees to only one State in which they do business. This data is then submitted to the National Directory of New Hires (NDNH), where it is compared against child support order information contained in the Federal Case Registry (FCR) for possible enforcement of child support obligations by wage garnishment. New hire data may also be used at the State level to find new hires that have been receiving unemployment insurance or other public benefits for which they may no longer be eligible, helping States to reduce waste and fraud. Federal Agencies report this data directly to the NDNH. Also known as (W4) data, after the form used to report the employees.

(See also: State Directory of New Hires; National Directory of New Hires)

New Hire Reporting

Program that requires that all employers report newly hired employees to the State Directory of New Hires (SDNH) in their State. This data is then submitted to the National Directory of New Hires (NDNH), where it is compared against child support order information contained in the Federal Case Registry (FCR) for possible enforcement of child support obligations by wage garnishment. Some data is also made available to States to find new hires that have been receiving unemployment insurance or other public benefits for which they may no longer be eligible, helping States to reduce waste and fraud.

(See also: State Directory of New Hires; National Directory of New Hires)

Non-custodial Parent (NCP)

The parent who does not have primary care, custody, or control of the child, and has an obligation to pay child support. Also referred to as the obligor.

(See also: Custodial Party)

Non IV-A Case

A support case in which the custodial parent has requested IV-D services but is not receiving Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF). Also known as a Non-TANF case.

Non IV-D Orders

A child support order handled by a private attorney as opposed to the State/local child support enforcement (IV-D) agency. (Non-IV-D orders that pre-date January 1, 1994 may be subject to different disbursement requirements.) A non IV-D order is one where the State:

  1. Is not currently providing service under the State’s Title IV-A, Title IV-D, Title IV-E, or Title XIX programs.
  2. Has not previously provided State services under any of these programs.
  3. Has no current application or applicable fee for services paid by either parent.

A IV-D case may become a non IV-D order when:

  1. All child support arrearages previously assigned to the State have been paid, and/or
  2. The parent(s) originally making application for a State’s IV-D services request(s) termination of those IV-D services.

Non IV-D orders established or modified in the State on or after October 1, 1998 must be included in the State Case Registry (SCR) for transmission to the Federal Case Registry (FCR).

A non IV-D order can be converted into IV-D case when the appropriate application and fees for IV-D services are paid by a parent, or when the custodial parent begins receiving Title IV-A services for benefit of the child(ren).

Obligated

A term meaning that a non-custodial parent (NCP) is required to meet the financial terms of a court or administrative order.

Obligation

Amount of money to be paid as support by a non-custodial parent (NCP). Can take the form of financial support for the child, medical support, or spousal support. An obligation is a recurring, ongoing obligation, not a onetime debt such as an assessment.

Obligee

The person, State agency, or other institution to which a child support is owed (also referred to as custodial party when the money is owed to the person with primary custody of the child).

Obligor

The person who is obliged to pay child support (also referred to as the non-custodial parent or NCP).

Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE)

The Federal agency responsible for the administration of the child support program. Created by Title IV-D of the Social Security Act in 1975, OCSE is responsible for the development of child support policy; oversight, evaluation, and audits of State child support enforcement programs; and providing technical assistance and training to the State programs. OCSE operates the Federal Parent Locator Service, which includes the National Directory of New Hires (NDNH) and the Federal Case Registry (FCR). OCSE is part of the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), which is within the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

Office of Personnel Management (OPM)

The Federal Government’s "Human Resources Agency."

Offset

Amount of money intercepted from a parent’s State or Federal income tax refund, or from an administrative payment such as Federal retirement benefits, in order to satisfy a child support debt.

Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993 (OBRA ’93)

Legislation that mandated that insurance providers and employers offer dependent health coverage to children even if the child is not in the custody of the employee in the plan. OBRA created Qualified Medical Child Support Orders (QMCSOs).

(See also: Qualified Medical Child Support Orders)

Order

Direction of a magistrate, judge, or properly empowered administrative officer.

(See also: Court Order and Support Order)

Order/Notice to Withhold Child Support

The form to be used by all States that standardizes the information used to request income withholding for child support. According to the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA), this form may be sent directly from the initiating State to a non-custodial parent’s employer in another State.

(See also: Direct Income Withholding)

Passport Denial Program

Program created by the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) of 1996 that is operated under the auspices of the Federal Tax Refund Offset Program. Under the Passport Denial Program, obligors with child support arrearages of at least $5000 that are submitted to the to the Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) for Tax Refund Offset are forwarded to the U.S. Department of State, which "flags" the obligor’s name and refuses to issue a passport in the event they apply for one. After the obligor makes arrangements to satisfy the arrears, States can decertify them with OCSE, which then requests that the State Department remove them from the program. This program is automatic, meaning that any obligor that is eligible will be submitted to the State Department unless the State submitting the case for Tax Offset specifically excludes them from the Passport Denial Program.

(See also: Federal Tax Refund Offset Program)

Paternity

Legal determination of fatherhood. Paternity must be established before child or medical support can be ordered.

Payee

Person or organization in whose name child support money is paid.

Payor

Person who makes a payment, usually non-custodial parents or someone acting on their behalf, or a custodial party who is repaying a receivable.

Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA)

Legislation that provides a number of requirements for employers, public licensing agencies, financial institutions, as well as State and Federal child support agencies, to assist in the location of non-custodial parents and the establishment, enforcement, and collection of child support. This legislation created the New Hire Reporting program and the State and Federal Case Registries. Otherwise known as Welfare Reform.

Petition

A formal written request submitted to the court or administrative tribunal for specific action, stating facts and circumstances as a cause for judicial action and containing a formal request for relief.

Plaintiff

A person who brings an action; the party who complains or sues in a civil case.

Pleadings

Statements or allegations, presented in logical and legal form, which constitute a plaintiff’s cause of action or a defendant’s grounds of defense.

Policy Interpretation Question (PIQ)

An official reply by the Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) to an inquiry submitted by a State child support agency concerning application of policy. Although questions often arise from a specific practice or situation, the responses are official statements of OCSE policy on the issue.

Proceeding

The conduct of business before a judge or administrative hearing officer.

Private Case

Known as a non IV-D case, it is a support case where the custodial parent to whom child support is owed is not receiving IV-A benefits or IV-D services.

Proactive Matching

Process in which child support case data newly submitted to the Federal Case Registry (FCR) is automatically compared with previous submissions, as well as with the employment data in the National Directory of New Hires (NDNH). The resulting locate information is then returned to the appropriate State(s) for processing.

Public Assistance

Benefits granted from State or Federal programs to aid eligible recipients (eligibility requirements vary between particular programs). Applicants for certain types of public assistance (e.g., Temporary Assistance to Needy Families or TANF) are automatically referred to their State IV-D agency identify and locate the non-custodial parent, establish paternity, and/or obtain child support payments. This allows the State to recoup or defray some of its public assistance expenditures with funds from the non-custodial parent.

Putative Father (PF)

The person alleged to be the father of the child but who has not yet been medically or legally declared to be the Legal Father.

(See also: Legal Father; Paternity; Genetic Testing)

Qualified Medical Child Support Order (QMCSO)

An order, decree, or judgment, including approval of a settlement agreement, issued by a court or administrative agency of competent jurisdiction that provides for medical support for a child of a participant under a group health plan or provides for health benefit coverage to such child.

Quarterly Wage (QW) Data

Data on all employees that must be submitted by employers on a quarterly basis to the State Employment Security Agency (SESA) in the State in which they operate. This data is then submitted to the National Directory of New Hires (NDNH). Minimum information must include the employee’s name, address, Social Security Number (SSN), wage amount, and the reporting period as well as the employer’s name, address, and Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN). The data is then compared against child support order information contained in the Federal Case Registry (FCR) for possible enforcement of child support obligations by wage garnishment. Federal Agencies report this data directly to the NDNH.

(See also: State Employment Security Agency; National Directory of New Hires)

Quasi-Judicial

A framework or procedure under the auspices of a State’s judicial branch in which court officers other than judges process, establish, enforce and modify support orders, usually subject to judicial review. The court officer may be a magistrate, a clerk, master, or court examiner. He or she may or may not have to be an attorney, depending on the State’s law.

Recipient

A person or organization that receives support funds and/or Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) payments.

(See also: Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF); IV-A; IV-A Case; Public Assistance)

Reciprocity

A relationship in which one State grants certain privileges to other States on the condition that they receive the same privilege.

Referral

Request sent to a IV-D agency from a non IV-D agent or agency asking that a child support case be established.

Respondent

The party answering a petition or motion.

Responding Jurisdiction

The court or administrative agency with jurisdiction over a non-custodial parent or child support order on which an initiating State has requested action.

Review and Adjustment

Process in which current financial information is obtained from both parties in a child support case and evaluated to decide if a support order needs to be adjusted.

Revised Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement of Support Act (RURESA)

Revised URESA law that sets forth reciprocal laws concerning the enforcement of child support between States.

(See also: Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement of Support Act; Uniform Interstate Family Support Act)

Service of Process

The delivery of a writ or summons to a party for the purpose of obtaining jurisdiction over that party.

Service by Publication

Service of process accomplished by publishing a notice in a newspaper or by posting on a bulletin board of a courthouse or other public facility, after a court determines that other means of service are impractical or have been unsuccessful. This procedure is not legal in every State.

Show Cause

A court order directing a person to appear and bring forth any evidence as to why the remedies stated in the order should not be confirmed or executed. A show cause order is usually based on a motion and affidavit asking for relief.

Single State Financial Institution Data Match

Process by which delinquent child support obligors are matched with accounts held in Financial Institutions (FI) doing business in only one State.

Spousal Support

Court ordered support of a spouse or ex-spouse; also referred to as maintenance or alimony.

State Case Registry (SCR)

A database maintained by each State that contains information on individuals in all IV-D cases and all non IV-D orders established or modified after October 1, 1998. Among the data included in the SCR is the State’s numerical FIPS code, the State’s identification number (which must be unique to the case), the case type (IV-D vs. Non IV-D), locate information on persons listed in the case, in addition to other information. Information submitted to the SCR is transmitted to the Federal Case Registry, where it is compared to cases submitted to the FCR by other States, as well as the employment data in the National Directory of New Hires (NDNH). Any matches found are returned to the appropriate States for processing.

(See also: Federal Case Registry; IV-D Case; Non IV-D Order)

State Directory of New Hires

A database maintained by each State, which contains information regarding newly hired employees for the respective State. The data is then transmitted to the NDNH, where it is compared to the employment data from other States as well as child support data in the Federal Case Registry (FCR). Any matches found are returned to the appropriate States for processing. Employers are required to submit new hire data to the SDNH within 20 days of the hire date. Multistate employers (those that do business and hire workers in more than one State) have additional options on where to report new hire information. In most States, the SDNH is contained in the State Parent Locator Service (SPLS) that is part of each State IV-D agency, in others it is operated by the State Employment Security Agency (SESA).

(See also: National Directory of New Hires; New Hire Reporting Program)

State Disbursement Unit (SDU)

The single site in each State where all child support payments are processed. Upon implementation of centralized collections, each state will designate its State Disbursement Unit, or SDU, to which all withheld child support payments should be sent.

State Employment Security Agency (SESA)

Agencies in each State that process unemployment insurance claims. They are also repositories of quarterly wage data, information on all employees submitted by employers, which they submit to the National Directory of New Hires (NDNH) along with the unemployment insurance claim data. In some States, the SESA also operates the State Directory of New Hires (SDNH), which contains data submitted by employers on newly hired employees. Data submitted to the NDNH is then compared against child support order information contained in the Federal Case Registry (FCR) for possible enforcement of child support obligations by wage garnishment.

(See also: Unemployment Insurance Claim Data; Quarterly Wage Data; New Hire Data; State Directory of New Hires; National Directory of New Hires)

State Parent Locator Services (SPLS)

A unit within the state Child Support Enforcement Agencies the purpose of which is to locate noncustodial parents in order to establish and enforce child support obligations, visitation, and custody orders or to establish paternity. This unit operates the State Case Registry (SCR), and in most States, the State Directory of New Hires (SDNH). (In some States the SDNH is operated by the State Employment Security Agency or SESA.)

Standardized Data Elements

Data elements that must be included in each child support case record that is transmitted to the Federal Case Registry (FCR).

Support Order

A judgment, decree, or order, whether temporary, final, or subject to modification, issued by a court or an administrative agency of a competent jurisdiction, for the support and maintenance of a child. This includes a child who has attained the age of majority under the law of the issuing State, or of the parent with whom the child is living. Support orders can incorporate the provision of monetary support, health care, payment of arrearages, or reimbursement of costs and fees, interest and penalties, and other forms of relief.

(See also: Obligation; Non-custodial Parent; Obligor)

Subpoena

A process issued by a court compelling a witness to appear at a judicial proceeding. Sometimes the process will also direct the witness to bring documentary evidence to the court.

Summons

A notice to a defendant that an action against him or her has been commenced in the court issuing the summons and that a judgment will be taken against him or her if the complaint is not answered within a certain time.

Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF)

Time-limited public assistance payments made to poor families, based on Title IV-A of the Social Security Act. TANF replaced Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC– otherwise known as welfare) when the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) was signed into law in 1996. The program provides parents with job preparation, work, and support services to help them become self-sufficient. Applicants for TANF benefits are automatically referred to their State IV-D agency in order to establish paternity and child support for their children from the non-custodial parent. This allows the State to recoup or defray some of its public assistance expenditures with funds from the non-custodial parent.

(See also: Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act)

Third Party Liability

A category under which the state pays the difference between the amount of the medical bill and the amount the insurance company has paid. This occurs only when a public assistance recipient has medical insurance in addition to coverage provided by the public assistance program.

Tribunal

The court, administrative agency, or quasi-judicial agency authorized to establish or modify support orders or to determine parentage.

Two-State Action

Action a State must file under the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA) guidelines when it does not have Long Arm Jurisdiction (i.e., cannot legally claim personal jurisdiction over a non-custodial parent who lives in another State). This is usually in cases where a State is trying to establish an initial child support order on behalf of a resident custodial party. Other actions, such as requesting wage withholding or reviewing and/or revising an existing support order, do not require a Two-State Action even if the initiating State does not have Long Arm Jurisdiction.

(See also: Initiating Jurisdiction; Two-State Action; Uniform Interstate Family Support Act)

Unclaimed Funds

Support payment that cannot be disbursed because the identity of the payor is unknown, or the address of the payee is unknown.

Unemployment Insurance (UI) Claim Data

Data on unemployment insurance and applicants claimants submitted by State Employment Security Agencies (SESAs) on a quarterly basis to the National Directory of New Hires (NDNH). Minimum information must include the employee’s name, address, Social Security Number (SSN), the benefit amount, and reporting period. This data is then compared against child support order information contained in the Federal Case Registry (FCR) for possible enforcement of child support obligations by garnishment.

(See also: State Employment Security Agency; National Directory of New Hires)

Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA)

Laws enacted at the State level to provide mechanisms for establishing and enforcing child support obligations in interstate cases (when a non-custodial parent lives in a different State than his/her child and the custodial party). Based on model legislation that was drafted by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws to revise and replace URESA. The provisions of UIFSA supercede those of URESA, although some URESA provisions may remain in effect (some States have rescinded all of URESA, while others have left in place those provisions not specifically superceded by UIFSA). Among the law’s provisions is the ability of State IV-D agencies to send withholding orders to employers across State lines (see also Direct Income Withholding). PRWORA mandated that all States adopt legislation requiring that UIFSA be adopted, without modification by the state, January 1, 1998.

Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement of Support Act (URESA)

Law first promulgated in 1950 which provides a mechanism for establishing, enforcing, and modifying support obligations in interstate cases. Has now been superceded by the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA).

Unreimbursed Public Assistance (UPA)

Money paid in the form of public assistance (for example, TANF or older AFDC expenditures) which has not yet been recovered from the non-custodial parent (NCP).

Wage Assignment

A voluntary agreement by an employee to transfer (or assign) portions of future wage payments (e.g., insurance premium deductions, credit union deductions) to pay certain debts, such as child support.

Wage Attachment

An involuntary transfer of a portion of an employee’s wage payment to satisfy a debt. In some States this term is used interchangeably with Wage or Income Withholding, in other States there are distinctions between an attachment and withholding. The most common term used is Wage or Income Withholding.

(See also: Wage Withholding and Income Withholding)

Wage Withholding

A procedure by which scheduled deductions are automatically made from wages or income to pay a debt, such as child support. Wage withholding often is incorporated into the child support order and may be voluntary or involuntary. The provision dictates that an employer must withhold support from a non-custodial parent’s wages and transfer that withholding to the appropriate agency (the Centralized Collection Unit or State Disbursement Unit). Also known as income withholding.

(See also: Income Withholding; Direct Income Withholding)

CHILD SUPPORT ENFORCEMENT ACRONYMS

ACF Administration for Children and Families
AEI Automated Administrative Enforcement of Interstate Cases
AFDC Aid to Families with Dependent Children
AT Action Transmittal
AVR Automated Voice Response System
CCA Consumer Credit Agencies
CCD+ Cash Concentration and Disbursement "Plus"
CCPA Consumer Credit Protection Act
CEJ Continuing Exclusive Jurisdiction to modify a support order
C:D CONNECT:Direct
CP Custodial Party
CSE Child Support Enforcement Agency
CSENet Child Support Enforcement Network
CTX Corporate Trade Exchange
DCL Dear Colleague Letter
DHHS United States Department of Health and Human Services
DOB Date of Birth
EDI Electronic Data Interchange
EFT Electronic Funds Transfer
EVS Enumeration and Verification System
FCR Federal Case Registry of Child Support Orders
FEIN Federal Employer Identification Number
FFCCSOA Full Faith and Credit for Child Support Orders Act
FIPS Federal Information Processing Standards
FMS Financial Management Service
FPLS Federal Parent Locator Service
FSA Family Support Act
FVI Family Violence Indicator
IM Information Memorandum
IRS Internal Revenue Service
IV-A Title IV-A of the Social Security Act
IV-D Title IV-D of the Social Security Act
IV-E Title IV-E of the Social Security Act
MAO Medical Assistance Only
MSFIDM Multistate Financial Institution Data Match
MSO Monthly Support Obligation
NACHA National Automated Clearing House Association
NCP Non-Custodial Parent
NDM Network Data Mover
NDNH National Directory of New Hires
NH New Hire
NPRC National Personnel Records Center
OCSE Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement
OPM Office of Personnel Management
PF Putative Father
PIQ Policy Interpretation Question
PRWORA Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996
QW Quarterly Wage
RURESA Revised Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement of Support Act
SCR State Case Registry of Child Support Orders
SDNH State Directory of New Hires
SDU State Disbursement Unit
SESA State Employment Security Agency
SPLS State Parent Locator Service
SSA Social Security Administration
SSN Social Security Number
SPLS State Parent Locator Service
TANF Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
UI Unemployment Insurance
UIFSA Uniform Interstate Family Support Act
UPA Unreimbursed Public Assistance
URESA Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement of Support Act