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

Glossary of Terms

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Obligated

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

Obligation

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

Obligee

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

Obligor

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

Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE)

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

Office of Personnel Management (OPM)

The Federal Government’s "Human Resources Agency."

Offset

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

Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993 (OBRA '93)

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

(See also: Qualified Medical Child Support Orders)

Order

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

(See also: Court Order and Support Order)

Order/Notice to Withhold Child Support

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

(See also: Direct Income Withholding)

Passport Denial Program

Program created by the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) of 1996 that is operated under the auspices of the Federal Tax Refund Offset Program. Under the Passport Denial Program, obligors with child support arrearages of at least $2,500 that are submitted to the to the Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) for Tax Refund Offset are forwarded to the U.S. Department of State, which "flags" the obligor’s name and refuses to issue a passport in the event they apply for one. After the obligor makes arrangements to satisfy the arrears, States can decertify them with OCSE, which then requests that the State Department remove them from the program. This program is automatic, meaning that any obligor that is eligible will be submitted to the State Department unless the State submitting the case for Tax Offset specifically excludes them from the Passport Denial Program.

(See also: Federal Tax Refund Offset Program)

Paternity

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

Payee

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

Payor

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

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

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

Plaintiff

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

Pleadings

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

Policy Interpretation Question (PIQ)

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

Proceeding

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

Private Case

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

Proactive Matching

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

Public Assistance

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

Putative Father (PDF)

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

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

Qualified Medical Child Support Order (QMCSO)

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

Quarterly Wage (QW) Data

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

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

Quasi-Judicial

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

Recipient

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

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

Reciprocity

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

Referral

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

Respondent

The party answering a petition or motion.

Responding Jurisdiction

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

Review and Adjustment

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

Revised Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement of Support Act (RURESA)

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

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

Service of Process

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

Service by Publication

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

Show Cause

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

Single State Financial Institution Data Match

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

Spousal Support

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

State Case Registry (SCR)

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

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

State Directory of New Hires

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

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

State Disbursement Unit (SDU)

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

State Employment Security Agency (SESA)

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

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

State Parent Locator Services (SPLS)

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

Standardized Data Elements

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

Support Order

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

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

Subpoena

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

Summons

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

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)

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

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

Third Party Liability

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

Tribunal

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

Two-State Action

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

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

Unclaimed Funds

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

Unemployment Insurance (UI) Claim Data

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

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

Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA)

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

Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement of Support Act (URESA)

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

Unreimbursed Public Assistance (UPA)

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

Voice Response System

The Division of Support Enforcement & Recovery's  telephone system for automated communication between custodial parents and the division.  For the system's features and instructions for using the system, see Voice Response Features and How to Use the Voice Response System.

Wage Assignment

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

Wage Attachment

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

(See also: Wage Withholding and Income Withholding)

Wage Withholding

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

(See also: Income Withholding; Direct Income Withholding)