Child Support


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Child Support Enforcement



State Child Support Resources

Learn about the State Agency Programs for child support available in your state.


Child Support Enforcement resources available from the Federal Government

Regional Offices, TANF information & Federal Child Support Handbook


Frequently Asked Questions about Support Enforcement

Child Support Calculators, Questions and Answers about Child Support Enforcement (CSE) Programs, OCSE info


Glossary of Child Support Terms

Learn the definitions of critical terms related to collecting child support. Find valuable resources for the enforcement of child support orders. /Child-Support/glossary.asp


Crib Designs and Safety Concerns

Yes, there are unfortunate instances where infants had died due to neglect associated with the manufacturing of cribs.


Child Support Service Resources on the Web

Links to resources about the Bureaus of Child Support Enforcement, Offices of Recovery Services, Departments of Human Services, Departments of Social Services, & Departments of Family Services.


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Adjudication –
the entry of a judgment, decree, or order by a judge or other decision-maker, based on the evidence submitted by the parties.

Administration for Children and Families (ACF) –
the agency in the Department of Health and Human Services that houses the Office of Child Support Enforcement.

Administrative offset –
seizure of a tax refund or other Federal payment to satisfy a child support debt.

Administrative procedure –
method by which support orders are made and enforced by an executive agency rather than by courts and judges.

Agent of the child –
person, usually a parent, who has the legal authority to act on behalf of a minor.

Arrearage –
unpaid child support for past periods owed by a parent who is obligated to pay.

Assignment of support rights –
the legal procedures by which a person receiving public assistance agrees to turn over to the state any right to child support, including arrearages, paid by the obligated parent in exchange for receipt of a cash assistance grant and other benefits.The money is used to defray the public assistance costs.

Child Support Enforcement (CSE) agency –
agency that exists in the 54 states and territories and several Native American tribes, established by title IV-D (Four-D) of the Social Security Act, to locate noncustodial parents, establish paternity and establish and enforce child support orders.

Child Support Enforcement Program –
the Federal/state/local partnership established under Part D of the Social Security Act to locate parents, establish paternity and child support orders and to enforce those orders.

Complaint –
written document filed in court in which the person initiating the action names the persons, allegations, and relief sought.

Consent agreement –
voluntary written admission of paternity or responsibility for support.

Consumer Credit Protection Act (CCPA) –
Federal law that limits the amount that may be withheld from earnings.

Continuing Exclusive Jurisdiction (CEJ) –
doctrine that only one support order can be in effect at any one time and that only one state has jurisdiction to modify the order.

Custodial parent –
person with legal custody and with whom the child lives; may be a parent, other relative, legal guardian (JPS) or someone else.

Custody order –
legal determination which establishes with whom a child shall live.

Default –
failure of a defendant to appear, or file an answer or response in a civil case, after having been served with a summons and complaint.

Default judgment –
decision made by the tribunal when the defendant fails to respond.

Defendant –
person against whom a civil or criminal proceeding is begun.

Disestablishment –
procedure by which a tribunal can nullify an order or a determination of paternity generally.

Disposable income –
income remaining after subtracting mandatory deductions such as: Federal, state and local taxes; FICA and Medicare taxes; unemployment insurance, workers’ compensation insurance; state employee retirement systems; additional deductions mandated by state law.

Electronic funds transfer (EFT) –
transfer of money from one bank account to another or to a CSE agency.

64 Enforcement –
obtaining payment of a child support or medical support obligation.

Establishment –
the process of determining paternity and/or obtaining a child support order.

Family violence indicator –
a notation in the case documents that information about a family’s whereabouts cannot be released without a court order.

Federal Case Registry (FCR) –
A database that maintains all states’ caseloads.

Federal Income Tax Offset Program –
a program under the Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement which makes available to state CSE Agencies a route for securing the tax refund of parents who have been certified as owing substantial amounts of child support.

Federal Parent Locator Service (FPLS) –
a service operated by the Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement to help state CSE agencies locate parents in order to obtain child support payments; also used in cases of parental kidnapping related to custody and visitation determinations. The FPLS obtains address and employer information from Federal agencies.

Federally assisted Foster Care –
a program, funded in part by the Federal government, under which a child is raised in a household by someone other than his or her own parent.

Financial Institution Data Match (FIDM) –
a quarterly data match for the purpose of identifying accounts belonging to parents that owe past due child support.

Finding –
a formal determination by a court, or administrative process, that has legal standing.

Full Faith and Credit –
doctrine under which a state must honor an order or judgment entered in another state.

Garnishment –
a legal proceeding under which part of a person's wages and/or assets is withheld for payment of a debt.

Genetic testing –
analysis of inherited factors (usually by blood or tissue test) of mother, child, and alleged father which can help to prove or disprove that a particular man fathered a particular child.

Good cause –
a reason for not trying to collect support from the father, usually because the father may be a threat to the mother and child(ren).

Guidelines –
a standard method for setting child support obligations based on the income of the parent(s) and other factors as determined by state law.

IV-D (Four-D) Child Support Enforcement Program –
the Federal/state/local and tribal child support programs established under title IV-D of the Social Security Act.

Immediate income withholding –
automatic deductions from income which start as soon as the agreement for support is established (see income withholding).

Judgment –
the official decision by the tribunal in authority on the rights and claims of the parties to an action.

Jurisdiction –
legal authority which a court has over particular persons, certain types of cases, and in a defined geographical area.

Legal father –
a man who is recognized by law as the male parent.

Lien –
a claim upon property to prevent sale or transfer until a debt is satisfied.

Long arm statute –
a law that permits one state to claim personal jurisdiction over someone who lives in another state.

Medicaid program –
Federally funded medical support for low-income families.

Medical support –
legal provision for payment of medical and dental bills.

National Directory of New Hires –
a national repository of employment, unemployment insurance, and quarterly wage information.

Noncustodial parent –
parent who does not have primary custody of a child.

Obligation –
amount of money to be paid as support by the responsible parent and the manner by which it is to be paid.

Offset –
amount of money taken from a parent's state or Federal income tax refund to satisfy a child support debt Order –
direction of a magistrate, judge or properly empowered administrative officer.

Parentage –
the legal mother-child relationship and/or father-child relationship as determined by the state.

Paternity judgment –
legal determination of fatherhood.

Plaintiff –
person who brings an action, complains or sues in a civil case.

Presumption of paternity –
a rule of law under which evidence of a man's paternity (e.g. voluntary acknowledgment, genetic test results) creates a presumption that the man is the father of a child. A rebuttable presumption can be overcome by evidence that the man is not the father, but it shifts the burden of proof to the father to disprove paternity.

Probability of paternity –
the probability that the alleged father is the biological father of the child as indicated by genetic test results.

Pro se –
when a party represents themselves in a legal matter.

PRWORA (Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act) –
legislation that was passed in 1996, which is also known as Welfare Reform.

Public assistance –
money granted from the state/Federal government to a person or family for living expenses; eligibility is based on need.

State Parent Locator Service (SPLS) –
a service operated by the state Child Support Enforcement Agencies to locate noncustodial parents to establish paternity, and establish and enforce child support obligations.

State Workforce Agencies (SWAs) –
agencies that provide Quarterly Wage and Unemployment Insurance Compensation data to the NDNH.

Statute of limitations –
the period during which someone can be held liable for an action or a debt; statutes of limitations for collecting child support vary from state to state.

Stay –
an order by a court that suspends all or some of the proceedings in a case.

Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) –
assistance payments made on behalf of children who don't have the financial support of one of their parents by reason of death, disability, or continued absence from the home. The program provides parents with job preparation, work and support services to help them become self-sufficient.

Tribal Organizations –
organizations run by Native American tribes.

Tribunal –
a court, administrative agency or quasi-judicial entity authorized to establish, enforce or modify support orders or to determine parentage.

Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA), and Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement of Support Act (URESA) –
laws enacted at the state level which provide mechanisms for establishing and enforcing support obligations when the noncustodial parent lives in one state and the custodial parent and the children live in another.

Visitation –
the right of a noncustodial parent to visit or spend time with his or her children.

Voluntary acknowledgment of paternity –
an acknowledgment by a man, or both parents, that the man is the father of a child, usually provided in writing on an affidavit or form.

Wage withholding –
procedure by which automatic deductions are made from wages or income to pay some debt such as child support; may be voluntary or involuntary.

Source: US DHS HANDBOOK ON CHILD SUPPORT ENFORCEMENT. Updated 2005. Department of Health and Human Services. Administration for Children and Families. Office of Child Support Enforcement.

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