Unpaid child support payments for past periods owed by a person being ordered to pay.

Assignment of Support Rights

A person gives his or her support rights to the County in exchange for and as a condition of receiving CalWORKs or Foster Care benefits.

Central Registry

Each state is required to have a Central Registry office where interstate requests/petitions must be sent for an initial review by the state before they can be sent to the local office for action.

Certified copy

A copy of a court document which the court clerk has stated, in writing, is a true and correct copy of the original.


Written legal document filed in court by which the County starts the legal action to establish paternity and/or child support.

Custodial Party (CP)

Person with whom the child primarily resides and to whom the other parent owes a duty of child support; may be a parent, other relative or someone else.


Failure of a defendant to file an answer in a court case within a certain number of days after being served with a Summons and Complaint results in the entry of an order by default.

Default Judgment
Decision made by the court after the non-custodial parent fails to answer or otherwise respond to the complaint.

Defendant/ Respondent

Person against whom a lawsuit is filed.

Department of Child Support Services (DCSS)

The Department of Child Support Services is the agency that administers the child support services program.

Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB)

Disability Insurance Benefits provides partial wage replacement to eligible workers who are unable to work because of a disability.  Up to 25% can be taken and applied to support.

Franchise Tax Board (FTB)

The California State agency that collects income taxes. DCSS annually notifies the FTB of the support arrears balances owed by the non-custodial parent. California Income Tax refunds may be intercepted to pay past due child support.


A legal proceeding whereby a specified amount (up to 50%) of a person's wages are withheld and applied to payment of a child support debt.

Guideline Calculator

A software program used to calculate guideline child support and spousal support amounts in California.

Income Withholding Order (IWO)

The form used by all states to request income withholding for child support from an employer.


Amount of monies taken from the non-custodial parent's state income tax refund, federal income tax refund, unemployment, disability insurance benefits, and/or lottery winnings to satisfy a support debt.

Internal Revenue Service (IRS)

The Federal Agency that collects income tax. DCSS annually notifies the IRS of the support arrears balances owed by the non-custodial parent. Federal Income Tax refunds may be intercepted to pay past due child support.


The official decision or finding of a court upon the individual rights and claims of the parties to an action.


Legal authority which a court has over persons and cases within a defined geographical area.

Legal Father

A man who is determined by law to be the male parent.


The taking of property by a Marshall or Sheriff pursuant to a writ of execution.


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

Long-arm Jurisdiction

If the non-custodial parent lives outside California and the case meets specific criteria, a child support order can be obtained through the civil complaint procedure instead of petitioning his or her state of residence for assistance in establishing a support order.

Medical Support

Health insurance coverage for the supported child or children provided by the non-custodial parent. Health insurance includes medical, dental and vision coverage.


A court order which changes the terms of an earlier court order.


A request to the court for an order.

National Medical Support Notice (NMSN)

The form used by all states to enroll child(ren) in the non-custodial parents health insurance plan if available at no or a reasonable cost.

Non-custodial Parent (NP)

The parent who does not have primary physical custody of the child(ren) and who is responsible to pay child support to the custodial party.


Amount of money to be paid as child support by the non-custodial parent.

Order to Show Cause (OSC)

A court order directing a person to appear in court on a certain date and to explain why a certain order should not be entered.

Other Jurisdiction

If the non-custodial parent or the custodial party resides in another state we often refer to that state as the "other jurisdiction".

Paternity Judgment

Legal determination of who the child's father is.

Payee/ Obligee

The person to whom support is paid.

Payor/ Obligor

The person who pays support.

Plaintiff/ Petitioner

Person who files a legal action or law suit.


Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996. Welfare reform law.

Public Assistance

State or federal money given to a person or family for living expenses under the TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families) program.


The process by which an order issued by one court can be used in another jurisdiction.

Registration of Foreign Support Order (ROFO)
Allows a county with the appropriate jurisdiction over a case to "register" a support order from another state or county so that the issues relating to support may be handled in the registering state or county.

State Licensing Match System (SLMS)

A system for reporting non-custodial parents with delinquent child support obligations to State agency boards which issue occupational, professional and drivers licenses. The issuance of a new license or renewal is held until a release is obtained from the DCSS.


An agreement between parties to an action. All DCSS stipulations are submitted to the court. The court accepts the terms of the agreement and enters an order.


A notice and warning given to a person when he or she is sued.

Support Rights

Every child has a right to support from both parents. Every parent who does not reside with a child has a responsibility to provide monetary support. Child, spousal and medical support amounts are established in court orders. As a condition of receiving TANF, a person assigns all unpaid support owed up to the time welfare is discontinued to the county which provides the public assistance.

Unemployment Insurance Benefits (UIB)

Weekly payments for eligible workers who lose their job through no fault of their own.  Up to 25% can be taken and applied to support.


The right of the non-custodial parent to visit or spend time with his or her child(ren).

Wage Assignment

A court order by which automatic deductions are made from wages or other income to pay support.

Writ of Execution

A court order directing the Sheriff or Marshall to seize property to satisfy a judgment.

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