Maine Child Support: Division of Support Enforcement & Recovery (DSER)

Glossary of Terms

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Accrual

Sum of child support payments that are due or overdue.

Action Transmittal

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

Adjudication

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

Automated Administrative Enforcement of Interstate Cases (AEI)

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

Administrative Procedure

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

Administration for Children and Families (ACF)

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

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 Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) under the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA).

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

Arrearage

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

Assignment of Support Rights

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

Automated Voice Response System (AVR)

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

Burden of Proof

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

Case

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

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

Case Initiation

First step in the child support enforcement process.

Case Law

Law established by the history of judicial decisions in cases.

Case Member

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

Case ID

Unique identification number assigned to a case.

Cash Concentration and Disbursement "Plus" (CCD+)

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

(See also: Electronic Funds Transfer)

Central Registry

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

Centralized Collection Unit

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

(See also: State Disbursement Unit)

Child Support

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

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

The support can come in different forms, including:

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

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

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

Child Support Enforcement (CSE) Agency

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

(See also: IV-D)

Child Support Enforcement Network (CSENet)

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

Child Support Pass-Through

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

(See also: Public Assistance)

Client

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

Common Law

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

Complainant

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

Complaint

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

CONNECT:Direct (C:D)

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

Consent Agreement

Voluntary written admission of paternity or responsibility for child support.

Consumer Credit Agencies (CCA)

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

Consumer Credit Protection Act (CCPA)

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

Without arrearage

50% with a second family

60% Single

With Arrearage

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

65% Single 12+ weeks in arrears

Continuing Exclusive Jurisdiction (CEJ)

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

(See also: Uniform Interstate Family Support Act)

Cooperation

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

Corporate Trade Exchange (CTX)

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

Court Order

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

Custodial Party (CP)

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

Custody Order

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

Decree

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

Default

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

Defendant

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

Dependent

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

Direct Income Withholding

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

(See also: Income Withholding; Wage Withholding)

Disbursement

The paying out of collected child support funds.

Disclosure Prohibited Notice

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

(See also: Family Violence Indicator)

Disposable Income

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

Disposition

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

Distribution

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

DSER

Division of Support Enforcement and Recovery

DSER Guide

Custodial Parents' Guide to services in Full Service cases.

Electronic Data Interchange (EDI)

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

 

Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT)

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

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

Enforcement

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

Enumeration and Verification System (EVS)

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

Establishment

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

External Locate Source

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

Family Support Act

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

(FV)Family Violence Indicator

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

(See also: Disclosure Prohibited Notice)

Federal Case Registry (FCR)

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

Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN)

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

Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) Code

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

Federal Parent Locator Service (FPLS)

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

Federal Tax Refund Offset Program

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

Foster Care

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

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

Full Faith and Credit

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

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

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

Garnishment

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

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

Genetic Testing

Analysis of inherited factors to determine legal fatherhood or paternity.

Good Cause

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

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

Guidelines

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

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