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Riverside County Department of Child Support Services
Glossary

Using the glossary is easy!   Just click on a letter to jump to that section, or scroll down through the alphabetical listing.

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A
ABSTRACT


  An abstract is a recorded document that creates a lien or claim on any real estate owned or later acquired by the losing party of a lawsuit in the county in which the abstract is recorded. See also “lien”.
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ACCRUAL


  Sum of child support payments that are due or overdue.
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ACKNOWLEDGED FATHER


  The acknowledged father is the biological father of a child to an unmarried couple who has been established as the father either by his admission or by an agreement between himself and the child’s mother. An acknowledged father must pay child support.
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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.
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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.
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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).
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ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEDURE


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


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


  Alimony is money paid by one ex-spouse to the other under the terms of a court order or settlement agreement following a divorce. Alimony usually lasts for a set period with the expectation that the recipient will become self-supporting.
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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.
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AMENDED COMPLAINT


  An amended complaint results when the party suing (plaintiff/petitioner) changes the complaint that was filed. It must be in writing and can be done before the complaint is served on the defendant, by agreement between parties or upon order of the court.
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ANSWER


  An answer is a defendant’s written response to a plaintiff’s initial court filing (such as the complaint or petition). An answer normally denies all or some of the facts asserted by the complaint. An answer is also known as a response.
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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."
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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 noncustodial 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.
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AT ISSUE MEMORANDUM


  An at-issue memorandum is a document that states that all parties to a case have been served and that the parties disagree (or are “at issue”) over one or more points to be resolved at trial.
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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.
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B
BURDEN OF PROOF


  The duty of a party to produce the greater weight of evidence on a point at issue.
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C
CALIFORNIA NEW EMPLOYEE REGISTRY


  A database maintained by the Employment Development Department (EDD). Employers in California must report the names, addresses, and Social Security Numbers of all new employees. Independent contractors must also be reported.
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CALWORKS


  California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs) is a welfare program that gives cash aid and services to eligible needy California families.
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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 Noncustodial 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.
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CASE ID


  Unique identification number assigned to a case.
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CASE INITIATION


  First step in the child support enforcement process.
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CASE LAW


  Law established by the history of judicial decisions in cases.
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CASE MEMBER


  Participant in child support case; a member can participate in more than one case.
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CASH CONCENTRATION AND DISBURSEMENT "PLUS" (CCD+)


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


  Child support refers to the entitlement of all children to be supported by their parents until the children reach the age of majority (18 years of age in California) or become emancipated. A parent who has physical custody of a child meets his or her support obligation through taking care of the child every day, while the other parent must make payments to the custodial parent on behalf of the minor child. Another term used for child support is support obligation.
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CHILD SUPPORT ENFORCEMENT (CSE) AGENCY


  Agency that exists in every State that locates noncustodial 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".
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CHILD SUPPORT ENFORCEMENT NETWORK (CSENET)


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


  Except in Foster Care case, the first $50 of child support that is collected each month is paid directly to the custodial party. This $50 is called Pass Through.
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CLIENT


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


  A body of law developed from judicial decisions or custom rather than legislative enactments.
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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.
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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. In the complaint resolution process, a complaint is an unresolved oral or written inquiry/dispute that is made within 90 days from the date a person knew, or should have known, about the subject of the complaint.
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CONSENT AGREEMENT


  Voluntary written admission of paternity or responsibility for child support.
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CONTEMPT OF COURT


  Contempt of court is behavior in or out of court that violates a court order, or otherwise disrupts or shows disregard for the court. Contempt of court is punishable by fine or imprisonment.
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CONTINUANCE


  A continuance is the postponement of a hearing, trial or other scheduled court proceeding. A request for a continuance can be made by one or both parties or by the judge (who doesn’t have to consult either party before issuing the continuance).
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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).
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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.
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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.
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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 noncustodial parent is to pay, how long he or she is to pay it, and whether an employer must withhold support from their wages.
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CUSTODIAL PARENT (CP)


  The parent who has primary physical custody of a minor child is known as the custodial parent. The custodial parent receives child support paid by the noncustodial parent on behalf of the minor child.
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CUSTODIAL PARTY (CP)


  The parent who has primary physical custody of a minor child is known as the custodial parent. The custodial parent receives child support paid by the noncustodial parent on behalf of the minor child.
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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.
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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.
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D
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).
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DEFAULT


  A default is a failure to perform a legal duty or a decision awarded to the plaintiff when a defendant fails to contest the case. To appeal a default judgment, a defendant must first file a motion in the court that issued it to have the default vacated (set aside).
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DEFAULT JUDGMENT


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


  The person against whom a lawsuit is filed is known as the defendant. A synonym for defendant is respondent.
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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.
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DIRECT INCOME WITHHOLDING


  A procedure, whereby an income withholding order can be sent directly to the noncustodial 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.
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DISBURSEMENT


  The paying out of collected child support funds.
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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.
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DISMISS (VERB)


  To dismiss is a term that refers to the ruling by a judge that all or a portion of the plaintiff’s lawsuit is terminated (thrown out) at that point without further evidence or testimony. This judgment may be made before, during or at the end of a trial.
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DISMISSAL (NOUN)


  A dismissal is a judge’s ruling that a lawsuit or criminal charge is terminated.
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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.
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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.
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DISSOLUTION


  Dissolution is a term used instead of divorce.
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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.).
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DIVORCE


  Divorce is the legal termination of marriage.
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DIVORCE AGREEMENT


  A divorce agreement is an agreement made by a divorcing couple regarding the division of property, custody and visitation of children, alimony and child support. The agreement must be in writing, signed by both parties and accepted by the court. It will become a part of the divorce decree without having a trial on the issues covered in the agreement. A divorce agreement is also known as a marital settlement agreement.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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E
ELECTRONIC DATA INTERCHANGE (EDI)


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


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


  Emancipation refers to the point at which a child is free from parental control. Emancipation occurs when the child’s parents no longer perform their parental duties and surrender their rights to the care, custody and earnings of the minor child. It may be the result of a voluntary agreement between the parents and the child or it may be implied from their actions and ongoing conduct. Emancipation also occurs when a minor child marries or joins the military.
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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.
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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).
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ESTABLISHMENT


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


  Ex parte is Latin for “for one party” and refers to motions, hearings or orders granted on the request of and for the benefit of one party only. This is an exception to the basic rule of court procedures that both parties must be present at any argument before a judge and to the rule that an attorney may not notify a judge without previously notifying the opposition.
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EXTERNAL LOCATE SOURCE


  A source of locate information (that is not part of the Federal Parent Locator Service) on a noncustodial parent (NCP) who works for a Federal Agency.
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F
FAMILY LAW COURT


  A family law court is a separate court, or a separate division of the regular state trial court, that considers only cases involving divorce (dissolution of marriage), child custody and support, guardianship, adoption and other cases having to do with family-related issues, including the issuance of restraining orders in domestic violence cases.
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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.
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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.
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FEDERAL CASE REGISTRY (FCR)


  A registry that lists child support cases and orders from every state. Several states, including California, are still compiling this database. Eventually, the FCR will include every child support case and order in the United States.
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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.
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FEDERAL INFORMATION PROCESSING STANDARD (FIPS) CODE


  A unique five-digit code that identifies the child support jurisdiction, (i.e., States, counties, central state registries).
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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 noncustodial 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).
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FEDERAL TAX REFUND OFFSET PROGRAM


  Program that collects past due child support amounts from noncustodial 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.
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FILE


  File is a term commonly used to describe the process of submitting a document to a court. File also describes the physical location where these papers are kept.
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FILING FEE


  A filing fee is a fee charged by the court to accept a document for processing.
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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.
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FRAUD


  A deception deliberately practiced in order to secure unfair or unlawful gain.
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FULL FAITH AND CREDIT


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


  The person upon whom a garnishment is served.
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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.
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GENETIC TESTING


  Analysis of inherited factors to determine legal fatherhood or paternity.
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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.
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GUARDIAN AD LITEM


  A guardian ad litem is a person who is appointed by a court to represent and protect the interests of a child. In this department, a guardian ad litem is appointed when the putative father is a minor.
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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.
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H
HEARING


  A hearing is a legal proceeding (other than a full-scale trial) held before a judge. During a hearing, evidence and arguments are presented in an effort to resolve a disputed factual or legal issue.
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HR BILLS


  Bills introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives begin with the letters "HR".
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I
IMMEDIATE WAGE WITHHOLDING


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


  An inquiry or dispute is made by custodial parties, noncustodial parents, employers, other agencies, and the public prior to the filing of a complaint and must be responded to by our office within three (3) business days.
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INTERCEPT


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


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


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


  A child support case where at least one of the parties, either the custodial party (CP) or the noncustodial 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, noncustodial parent, or putative father, and dependent(s).
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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.
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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 noncustodial 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 noncustodial parent.
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J
JUDGMENT


  A judgment is a final court ruling resolving the key questions in a lawsuit and determining the rights and obligations of the opposing parties. Most judgments can be appealed by the losing party except for default judgments which require the defendant move to vacate (set aside) the default and reopen the case.
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JUDICIAL REMEDIES


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


  Jurisdiction is the authority of a court to hear and decide a case.
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K
L
LAWSUIT


  “Lawsuit” is the common term for a legal action by one person or entity against another person or entity, which is to be decided in a court of law. A lawsuit is also known as a “suit” or a “case”.
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LEGAL CUSTODY


  Legal custody is defined as the right and obligation to make decisions about a child’s upbringing, including schooling and medical care. Usually both parents share legal custody of a child.
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LEGAL FATHER


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


  A lien is an official claim or charge against property or funds for payment of a debt. A lien is usually a formal document signed by the party to whom money is owed and must be recorded with the County Recorder to be enforceable. See also abstract.
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LITIGATION


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


  Process by which a noncustodial 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.
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LOCATE INFORMATION


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


  Form of child support where medical or dental insurance coverage is paid by the noncustodial 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.
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MINOR CHILD


  A minor child is a son or daughter, under the age of 18. A minor child may be a biological offspring, unborn child, adopted children, or children born outside of marriage. A person under 18 years of age that is married or otherwise legally emancipated is considered an adult.
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MONTHLY SUPPORT OBLIGATION (MSO)


  The amount of money an obligor is required to pay per month.
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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.
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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.
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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 noncustodial 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.
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N
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.
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NATIONAL DIRECTORY OF NEW HIRES (NDNH)


  The central database of employment, unemployment insurance, and wage information from every state. Employers anywhere in the nation must report every new employee's name, address, and Social Security Number to NDNH.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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NONCUSTODIAL 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.
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NOTARIZE


  Certification by a notary public to establish the authenticity of a signature on a legal document is known as notarizing.
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NOTARY PUBLIC


  A notary public is a licensed public officer who administers oaths, certifies documents and performs other specified functions. A notary public’s signature and seal is required to authenticate the signatures on many legal documents.
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O
OBLIGATED


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


  Amount of money to be paid as support by a noncustodial 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.
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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).
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OBLIGOR


  The person who is obliged to pay child support (also referred to as the noncustodial parent or NCP).
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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).
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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.
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ORDER


  An order is a decision issued by the court. It is synonymous with “court order”.
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ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE


  An Order to Show Cause is an order from a judge that directs a party to come to court and convince the judge why an action proposed by the other side shouldn’t be granted. Both sides normally have an equal chance to convince the judge to rule in their favor.
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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.
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P
PARALEGAL


  A person who does legal work but who is not licensed to practice law or dispense legal advice is known as a paralegal.
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PARTY


  A party is a person, corporation or other legal entity that files a lawsuit (plaintiff/petitioner) or defends against one (defendant/respondent).
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PASS THROUGH


  Except in Foster Care case, the first $50 of child support that is collected each month is paid directly to the custodial party. This $50 is called Pass Through.
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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.
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PATERNITY


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


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


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


  Personal service is the delivery of legal documents (such as a summons, complaint, or order to show cause) by placing the papers directly into the hands of the person being served.
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PETITION


  A petition is a formal written request made to a court asking for an order or ruling on a particular matter. See also complaint.
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PETITIONER


  A petitioner is a person who initiates a lawsuit. Another term used for petitioner is plaintiff.
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PHYSICAL CUSTODY


  Physical custody is the right and obligation of a parent to have their child live with them.
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PLAINTIFF


  A plaintiff is a person, corporation or other legal entity that initiates a lawsuit. Another term used for plaintiff is petitioner.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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PROCEEDING


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


  Putative father is a term used to identify a man who has been named as the father of a minor child by that child’s mother, but who has not voluntarily acknowledged the child or been named the biological father by the courts.
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Q
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.
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RECIPIENT


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


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


  Recording refers to the process of filing a copy of a deed or other document concerning real estate with the land records office for the county in which the land is located. See also abstract.
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REFERRAL


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


  The party answering a petition or motion.
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RESPONDING JURISDICTION


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


  A defendant’s written answer to a plaintiff’s initial court filing (such as the complaint or the expedited order) is known as a response. A response normally denies all or some of the facts asserted in the complaint. Another term for response is “answer”.
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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.
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REVISED UNIFORM RECIPROCAL ENFORCEMENT OF SUPPORT ACT (RURESA)


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


  Any decision made by a judge during the course of a lawsuit is known as a ruling.
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S
SERVICE


  Service is the delivery of copies of legal documents (such as summons, complaints, or an order to show cause) to the defendant or other person to whom the documents are directed. There are many different types of service including personal service, substituted service, and service by mail.
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SERVICE BY MAIL


  Service by mail is the mailing of legal pleadings to the opposing party. When serving by mail, the original documents are filed with the court clerk with a declaration stating that the copy was mailed to a particular person at a specific address.
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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.
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SERVICE OF PROCESS


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


  To set aside means to annul or negate a court order or judgment by another court order. See also “vacate”.
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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.
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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.
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SMALL CLAIMS COURT


  A small claims court is a state court that resolves disputes involving relatively small amounts of money. In California, claims involving less than $5000.00 are heard in small claims court. Parties usually appear without lawyers and recount their side of the dispute in plain English. A small claims judgment has the same force as the judgment of any other state court. This means that if the loser (known as the “judgment debtor) fails to voluntarily pay the judgment, it can be collected using normal collection techniques such as property liens and wage garnishments.
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SPOUSAL SUPPORT


  Spousal support is money paid by one ex-spouse to the other under the terms of a court order or settlement agreement following a divorce. Spousal support usually lasts for a set period of time with the expectation that the recipient will become self-supporting. Alimony is a synonym for spousal support.
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STANDARDIZED DATA ELEMENTS


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


  Statute of limitations refers to the legally prescribed time limit in which a lawsuit must be filed. Statute of limitations vary depending on the type of legal claim.
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STIPULATION


  A stipulation is an agreement between two parties in a legal action. The courts often require that the stipulation be put in writing, signed and filed with the court.
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SUBPOENA


  A subpoena is a court order issued at the request of a party requiring a witness to appear in court. Also spelled “subpena”.
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SUBPOENA DUCES TECUM


  A subpoena duces tecum is a type of subpoena, usually issued at the request of a party, by which a court orders a witness to produce certain documents at a deposition or trial.
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SUBSTITUTE SERVICE


  Substitute service is a method for the formal delivery of court papers that takes the place of personal service. Substitute service is accomplished by leaving the documents with another adult in the recipient’s home or his/her manager at work and then sending copies of all the documents to the recipient by certified mail.
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SUMMONS


  A summons is a paper prepared by the plaintiff and issued by a court that informs the defendant that they have been sued. The summons requires that the defendant files a response with the court within a certain time frame or risk losing the case under the terms of a default judgment.
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SUPPORT OBLIGATION


  Support obligation is a term used to refer to either child support or spousal support.
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T
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 noncustodial parent. This allows the State to recoup or defray some of its public assistance expenditures with funds from the non-custodial parent.
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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.
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TRIBUNAL


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


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


  Vacate refers to the setting aside or annulling of an order or judgment that the judge finds was improper. See also "set aside".
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W
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.
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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.
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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.
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WARRANT


  A warrant is a document issued by a judge that authorizes the police to arrest someone. Warrants are issued when evidence presented convinces the judge that it is reasonably likely that a crime has taken place and that the person to be named in the warrant is criminally responsible for that crime.
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WITH PREJUDICE


  When a judge makes a final and binding decision about a legal matter that prevents further pursuit of the same matter in any court, he dismisses the case “with prejudice”.
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WITHOUT PREJUDICE


  “Without prejudice” is a phrase that refers to the dismissal of a lawsuit leaving open the possibility of bringing the suit again if the defendant does not follow through on the terms of the settlement.
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