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Kentucky Mother Collects $31,094.50!
Child Support Enforcement Council


Glossary of Terms

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Absent Parent

The parent who does not live or have custodial rights to the child, but is still responsible for child support. Also known as the non-custodial parent.


The amount of child support payments that is due or overdue.


The entry of a judgment, decree or order by a judge based on the evidence submitted by
the parties

Administrative Procedure

Support orders are enforced by an agency rather than by courts and judges.

Administration for Children and Families (ACF)

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

Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC)

Former program that made public assistance payments on behalf of children who did not have the financial support of one of their parents. Replaced with Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF).


Past due, unpaid child support or spousal support owed by the non-custodial parent.

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 cash assistance or other benefits.

Case Initiation

First step in the child support collection process.

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 IV-D agency where employers can send child support payments. This centralized payment site is called the State Disbursement Unit (SDU) and is responsible for collecting and distributing child support payments.

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.

Child Support Enforcement (CSE) Agency

Agency that exists in every State that locates non-custodial parents, establishes, enforces, and modifies child support. Operated by State or local government also known as an "IV-D Agency."

Chronological Case Summary

A collection of minutes filed through the court. The case summary lists all actions taken
during each hearing.


A fee or percentage allowed to an agency or agent for services rendered.


Person who seeks to initiate court proceedings against another person.


The formal 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.

Consent Agreement

Voluntary written admission of paternity or responsibility for 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 of 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 those same parties at any one time. This Court of Continuing Exclusive Jurisdiction continues to have jurisdiction over support issues until another court takes it away.


As a condition of eligibility where the recipient is required to cooperate with the child support agency identifying and locating the non-custodial parent, and or obtaining child support payments.

Court Order

A legally binding order issued by a court of law. Issued by a magistrate or judge.

Custodial Parent

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


Legal custody is determined by the court which decides with whom a child will live. Joint custody occurs when at least two legal custodians of a particular child(ren) enjoy physical custody rights simultaneously, usually based on criteria such as, the amounts of time a child spends with each custodian. Split custody occurs when multiple children are assigned to primarily reside with more than one physical custodian. Usually, a given number of children are placed with each custodian.

Custody Order

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


A derogatory term used to describe the non-custodial or absent parent who does not ful-
fill their child support obligation.


An order or law; predetermined purpose. Usually in "equitable" cases such as a divorce.


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.


A person for whom legal charges of a civil or criminal nature have been levied against.


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 is no longer a dependent when they reach the age of emancipation as determined by State law, but depending on the State, may remain eligible for child support for a period after they are emancipated.

Direct Income Withholding

A procedure, where an income withholding order can be sent directly to the non-custodial parent's (NCP) employer in another State, without the need to use the IV-D Agency or court system. This allows withholding unless the NCP contests, and no pleadings or registration are required.


The paying out of collected child support funds.

Disposable Income

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


A formal brief record of proceedings in court; minute entries in case files.

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 rights. It is a safeguard against unreasonable and arbitrary decisions.


The procedure to obtain payment of child or spousal support obligation contained in child and/or spousal support order.


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

Food Stamps

Enables low-income families to buy nutritious foods with coupons or Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards each month. Income and resources are evaluated to decide


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


The person upon whom a garnishment is served.


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


A standard method for setting child support obligations based on the income of the parent(s) and other factors determined by State law.


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.

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.

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) as well as those not on public assistance are referred to their State's IV-D child support program.

IV-D Agency

A single and separate unit in a state that has the responsibility for administering the State Plan for child support.

IV-D Case

A child support case where at least one of the parties, either the custodial party or the non-custodial party has requested or received IV-D services from the State's IV-D agency.

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.

IV-E Case

A child support case in which the State providing benefits or services under Title IV-E of the Social Security Act to a person, family or institution that is raising a child that is not their own. As with other public assistance cases, the recipients are referred to their State IV-D agency to locate the non-custodial parent.

Immediate Wage Withholding

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


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.

Income Withholding

Procedure by which automatic deductions are made from wages or income, to pay a debt such as child support. An Income Withholding may be voluntary or involuntary.


The official decision or finding of a judge upon the respective rights and claims of the parties. Also known as a decree or order.


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.


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


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


Process by which a non-custodial parent or putative father is found for the purpose of enforcing a child support obligation.

Locate Information

Data used to locate an absent parent or non-custodial parent. May include their Social Security Number (SSN), date of birth (DOB) as well as a last known address and possible

Medical Support

Form of child support where medical or dental insurance coverage is paid by the non-
custodial parent.

Non-Custodial Parent (NCP)

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

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).

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. A non IV-D order one where the state is not not currently providing service under the State's Title IV-A, Title IV-D, or Title IV-E


Amount of money to be paid as support by a non-custodial parent. An obligation is an ongoing obligation, not a onetime debt such as an assessment.


The person to which child support is owed (also referred to as custodial party when the money is owed to the person with primary custody of the child).


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

Office of Child Support Enforcement (OSCE)

The Federal agency responsible for the administration of the child support program. OSCE is responsible for the development of child support policy; oversight, evaluation, and audits of State child support enforcement programs.


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

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.


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


Person or organization in whose name child support is paid.

Payment History

A listing of every child support payment made from the non-custodial parent or by someone on his/her behalf.


Person who makes a payment, usually non-custodial parents or someone acting on their Behalf.


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


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

Power of Attorney

A legal document authorizing one to act as another's attorney or agent.


The conduct of business before a judge.

Public Assistance

Benefits granted from State or Federal programs to aid eligible recipients (eligibility Requirements vary between particular programs).


A person or organization that receives support funds.


The party answering a petition or motion.

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.

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. 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.

State Disbursement Unit

The single site in each State where all child support payments are processed.

Statue of Limitations

A statue setting a time limit on legal actions that can be taken in regard to the child support order. This varies from State to State.

Support Order

A judgment, decree, or order, whether temporary, final, or subject to
modification, issued by the court. 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.


A process issued by a court compelling a witness to appear at a judicial proceeding


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

Tax Intercept

Process by which a child support debtor's Federal and State income tax refunds are diverted to the custodial parent to help pay the child support arrearage.

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). 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.


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

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). The provisions of UIFSA supercede those of URESA, although some URESA provisions may remain in effect.

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 (TANF or older AFDC expenditures) which has not yet been recovered from the non-custodial parent.

Wage Assignment

A voluntary agreement by an employee to transfer (or assign) portions of future wage payments 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 State's this term is used interchangeably with Wage or 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 is often incorporated into the child support order and may be voluntary or involuntary. Also known as an income withholding.