Glossary of Terms

ACTS (Automated Collections and Tracking system) – This statewide computer system tracks CSS participant and case activities, stores participant and case information and performs automated activities to assist CSS caseworkers. ACTS receives data from and shares data with more than 30 state, federal and private agencies. This system helps to locate more noncustodial parents, establish more child support orders and collect more child support.

AFDC (Aid for Families with Dependent Children) – This public assistance program was replaced by Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF). The Division of Social Services) DSS used this program to provide financial assistance to qualifying households for the maintenance of minor children.

Affidavit of Parentage – This document is used in the establishment of paternity for a child who was born out of wedlock. The mother and alleged father sign this document to acknowledge that they are the parents of the child(ren) in question. It can be signed in the hospital at the time of birth or at other locations.

Alleged father – A man who has been named as the father of a child born out of wedlock, but has not been established as the legal father. Sometimes referred to as the “putative father.” If paternity testing confirms that he is the biological father of the child, the alleged father is re-designated as the noncustodial parent in the case.

AOC (Administrative Office of the Courts) – This agency is responsible for the activities of the courts and local Clerks of Court.

Arrearage – When a noncustodial parent has not paid all or part of the child support obligation that the court has ordered him or her to pay, he or she is considered in arrears. The unpaid amount accrues as an arrearage. Arrearages are considered unadjudicated until the court confirms the owed amount; then that amount is considered an adjudicated arrearage.

Assignment of Rights – Custodial parents who are receiving public assistance are required to sign this document, which assigns their right to receive child support to the local Department of Social Services (DSS).

Basic child support obligation – This is the amount of money used to meet basic subsistence needs of food, clothing, shelter, medical, transportation and educational needs of a child, not extraordinary expenses. It is determined based on the North Carolina Child Support Guidelines. This amount is calculated based on the combined income of both parents and the number of children being counted. The guidelines count only the children for whom support is sought, not all the children the parents might be supporting.

Biological father – This is the natural or birth father of a child. See alleged father and legal father.

Caseworker – An individual who is assigned responsibility for CSS cases. See responsible worker.

Centralized Collections – See NCCSCC.

Collection – The collection of child support obligations is a core service that is provided by the CSS agency.

Complaint – A written document filed in court to initiate a legal action.

Contempt – The willful disregard of a court order.

CSS – Child Support Services (CSS) is a nationwide program. In North Carolina, the Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Social Services, administers the CSS Agency.

CSENet (Child Support Enforcement Network) – This nationwide communications network links individual state CSS systems together and allows states to exchange formation regarding paternity, location, establishment, collection and enforcement activities.

Custodial parent/custodian (CP) – The person with physical custody or with whom the child lives. This can be a parent, a relative, or someone else.

Delinquency – The condition when the noncustodial parent is behind in his or her child support payments.

DHHS (Department of Health and Human Services) – This agency administers social programs for the state of North Carolina.

Direct income withholding – Child support payments that are obtained directly from the noncustodial parent’s wages.

Disposable income – The amount of the noncustodial parent’s income that remains after deductions for federal, state and local taxes, Social Security and involuntary retirement contributions.

Distribution – The distribution of child support payments is a core service that is provided by the CSS agency. Collections from the payor are directed to his/her case(s).

DNA test – An extended factor genetic test that assists in determining the paternity of a child born out of wedlock. See paternity testing.

DSS (Division of Social Services) – The Division of Social Services (DSS) was designated by NCDHHS to be responsible for the CSS program. County departments of social services (also referred to as DSS) administer public assistance programs. Some counties have placed their CSS programs under the authority of the county DSS.

EFT (Electronic funds transfer) – This is the movement of funds between financial accounts through electronic means rather than paper documents or hard currency. CSS can enter into agreements with employers and other agencies to transfer funds electronically. With prior approval, CSS can use EFT to make direct deposits to the bank account of child support recipients and automatic bank drafts from the bank accounts of child support payors.

Enforcement – The enforcement of child support orders is a core service that is provided by CSS. A variety of remedies are used to enforce compliance with the order.

Establishment – The establishment of child support orders is a core service that is provided by CSS. Caseworkers seek to obtain a court order that requires the noncustodial parent (NCP) to provide financial support for his or her child(ren).

Foster care – Foster care provides financial assistance for the care of children whose families cannot take care of them adequately. North Carolina pays for this care through two programs: N.C. Foster Care (IV-E) and State Foster Home Fund (SFHF).

FPLS (Federal Parent Locator Service) – An automated system devised and operated by the Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) with the purpose of searching federal government records to locate noncustodial parents (NCPs).

Genetic testing – See paternity testing.

Good cause – A valid reason for failing to cooperate with CSS’s efforts to pursue child support payments from a noncustodial parent (NCP). A request to claim good cause is made to the public assistance worker. If it is granted, CSS must decide whether to pursue support without assistance of the custodian or close the case.

Grant – Public assistance programs provide financial assistance grants to qualifying households. This money is generally in the form of a TANF/Work First check or a foster care payment.

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

Income withholding – A method of collecting child support in which an employer or other payor deducts the amount that is owed from the noncustodial parent's wages and remits it to NCCSCC.

Interstate case – A CSS case in which the involved parties reside in different states and a request for assistance is forwarded to the other state's child support agency.

IV-A – IV-A refers to Title IV-A of the Social Security Act. It is the federal law that provides for the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program.

IV-D – IV-D refers to Title IV-D of the Social Security Act. It is the federal law that provides for the CSS program.

IV-E – IV-E refers to Title IV-E of the Social Security Act. It is the federal law that provides partial funding for NC foster care cases.

Legal father – A man recognized as the legal father due to marriage to the mother, by voluntary acknowledgment or by court order. See alleged father and biological father.

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

Location – Locating noncustodial parents is a core service that is provided by CSS. When CSS obtains an NCP’s residential or employment address, that person is considered to be located.

Long-arm – To obtain a paternity or support order by serving an individual in another state when this state has jurisdiction.

MAO (Medical Assistance Only) – A type of CSS cases in which Medicaid is the only form of public assistance that the custodial parent or child is receiving.

Medicaid – County departments of social services (DSS) provide this medical assistance program to households that meet its eligibility requirements. The Division of NC

Medicaid supervises this program.

Medical support – The legal provision for an obligation to provide health insurance coverage for a child.

Motion and Order to Show Cause – Court papers served on the noncustodial parent (NCP) requiring an appearance in court before a judge to show why he or she should not be held in contempt for failure to make court-ordered child support payments.

MPI (Master Participant Index) number – ACTS assigns a unique MPI number to identify each participant in the CSS computer system. This number also serves as financial account number for that participant.

NCCSCC (North Carolina Child Support Centralized Collections) – The NCCSCC operation processes child support payments for deposit into the State Treasurer's bank account and transmits payment information daily into the ACTS system. ACTS then distributes and disburses payments to child support recipients.

NC FAST (North Carolina Families Accessing Services through Technology) – this is an integrated eligibility system for public assistance services for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Medicaid, Child Care, Food and Nutrition Services (FNS). NC FAST shares information with ACTS by an automated interface.

NC Medicaid – The agency within DHHS that is responsible for the administration of the state medical assistance program, or Medicaid. Previously known as DMA or Division of Medical Assistance.

Noncooperation – Failure of a public assistance (PA) custodial parent to cooperate with the CSS agency in the establishment of paternity and/or support. Noncooperation could result in a reduction of the custodial parent’s PA grant.

Noncustodial parent (NCP) – The parent who does not have primary custody of a child but who is responsible for paying financial support.

Non-public assistance (NPA) case – A case in which the child does not receive public assistance in the form of Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) or Medicaid.

Obligation – The amount that the responsible parent is to pay as support and the manner in which it is to be paid.

Obligee – The person who is owed child support. See payee.

Obligor – The person who owes child support. See payor.

OCSE (Office of Child Support Enforcement) – The federal office that regulates child support services programs in the states.

Paternity – Establishing the paternity of child who are born out of wedlock is a core service that is provided by CSS. CSS determines who the father of the child(ren) is, either through voluntary acknowledgment or paternity (genetic) testing.

Paternity testing – The procedure for obtaining scientific evidence to aid in establishing a child's parentage. CSS agencies use extended factor genetic tests, such as human leukocyte antigens (HLA) or DNA tests to assist in determining paternity.

Payee – The recipient of a child support payment. See obligee.

Payor – The person who is responsible for providing a child support payment. See obligor.

PPPA – Past Paid Public Assistance (PPPA) is the sum of financial assistance that a custodial parent has received on behalf of his or her children from DSS.

PRWORA – The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA) 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 (NCPs) and the establishment, enforcement and collection of child support.

Public assistance (PA) case – Financial assistance that is provided through the local department of social services (DSS) to households that meet the eligibility requirements.

Purge amount – A specified amount of money that the noncustodial parent (NCP) pays to the Clerk of Court to avoid a jail sentence.

Putative father – See alleged father.

Reasonable cost – Health insurance coverage that is available through the employer or other group health insurance is considered reasonable in cost.

Registration – An enforcement remedy for an interstate case where a court order is enforced in the noncustodial parent’s (NCP’s) state.

Rescission of paternity – The cancellation or revocation of an admission of paternity that was made by signing the Affidavit of Parentage. Either parent can rescind paternity by filing a motion with the Clerk of Court.

Responsible worker – The individual to whom CSS has assigned a caseload or specific set of tasks or duties.

SFHF (State Foster Home Fund) – A program that is funded by the state of North Carolina and its counties to provide for the needs of minor children whose families cannot take care of them. Children in SFHF foster care must be evaluated to determine if they are eligible for Medicaid. Most are found eligible. If they are not their cases are referred to as “DSS custody” cases. Also see Foster Care.

Substantial change – Outlines special needs of the child(ren) such as physical and emotional health needs, day care costs, or needs related to the child’s age and changes in custody status.

TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families) – This public assistance program replaced the AFDC program. In North Carolina, TANF is administered through the Work First Family Assistance (WFFA) program.

Tax intercept – The seizure of a noncustodial parent's federal or state tax refund to apply towards past due child support.

UIB (unemployment insurance benefits) – Financial assistance received by an individual during periods of unemployment. The benefit amount is based on the individual's previous earnings.

UIFSA – This law by which interstate cases are processed was adopted by all states in 1996. It superseded  URESA.

URESA – The Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement of Support Act (URESA) was an act that provided for the establishment and enforcement of child support orders across state lines. URESA was superseded by UIFSA in 1996.

URPA – Unreimbursed public assistance (URPA) is the portion of public assistance paid to the custodial parent which has not been reimbursed through child support collections.

VSA (Voluntary Support Agreement) – Obligors can sign a voluntary agreement to provide support for their children without a court hearing. However, once the judge signs a VSA it  becomes a court order.

WFFA (Work First Family Assistance) – Work First is the program through which NorthCarolina administers the federally-funded Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program. Work First payments are made to custodians (most often a parent) on behalf of dependent children on or about the first day of each month.