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Glossary of Terms

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Absent Parent:
Any individual who is absent from the home and who is legally responsible for providing financial support for a dependent child.

Action:
The legal term for a lawsuit or a legal case.

Affidavit:
A written statement of facts signed by a person who has knowledge of those facts and who is under oath. The person's signature must be notarized.

Alleged Father:
A person who has been named as the father of a child born out of wedlock, but for whom paternity has not been established.

Answer:
The answer is a document filed in Court by the respondent/defendant, the person being sued for child support or paternity. In the answer, the respondent/defendant either admits or denies statements made by the petitioner/plaintiff, the person who brings the action for child support or paternity.

Arrears:
The amount of money owed. In child support cases, this amount is the amount owed for support that should have been paid in the past.

Authorized Attorney:
An attorney employed by the county subject to the approval of the county board, employed by the Department of Health and Human Services, or appointed by the Court, who is authorized to investigate and prosecute child and spousal support.

Bench Warrant:
A warrant issued by a judge directing the police to arrest the individual named in the warrant. This is often issued in paternity and child support cases for the respondent's failure to appear at a hearing.

Child Support:
Child support is the legal duty to pay for a child's basic needs until the child reaches the age of 19, dies, marries, or is otherwise emancipated. Each parent owes a legal duty of support to his/her children. The parent without custody of the children will be ordered to pay a monthly amount to the court and the court will pass the money along to the parent who has custody of the children.

Custodial Parent:
The parent whom the child lives with on a daily basis.

Default:
A default occurs when the defendant, the person being sued, does not appear at the time of the hearing and fails to answer the complaint. The judge may grant a "default judgment" which allows the judgment without the presence of the defendant.

Defendant:
The person who is sued in a case. In paternity and child support cases, this person is also referred to as the respondent.

Dependent: A person to whom a duty of support is owed.

Exhibit:
A written or other article marked for identification and shown to the trier of fact during a court proceeding.

IV-D:
Title IV-D of the Social Security Act is that portion of the Federal law establishing and prescribing the Child Support Enforcement Program.

Judgment:
The official decision or finding of a court on the respective rights and claims of the parties to an action; also known as a decree or order and may include the "findings of fact and conclusions of law."

Non-Custodial Parent:
The parent with whom the child does not regularly live.

Obligation:
The legal amount of support owed for the benefit of children as ordered by a court or administrative tribunal.

Obligee:
The person to whom a duty of support is owed.

Obligor:
The person owing a duty of support.

Party:
Any person or organization that is named in a legal case and whose rights and obligations can be decided by a court after they are brought in to a case. The names of all parties appear in the caption (first page) of documents filed in a court case.

Paternity:
The legal determination that a man is the father of a child.

Petition:
This is the document that the plaintiff/petitioner files to ask the court for something.

Petitioner:
A petitioner is the person who brings a legal case and is asking the court for some legal remedy. Sometimes this person is also referred to as the plaintiff.

Presumption:
When the law assumes something automatically unless proof is offered to show otherwise.

Pro Se:
Pronounced "pro-say." Someone who is pro se is someone who is not represented by a lawyer. If you are representing yourself, you are pro se.

Public Assistance:
Support money or goods granted to a person or family based on income.

Putative Father:
Alleged father; a person who has been named as the father of a child born out of wedlock but for whom paternity has not been established.

Respondent:
The person who is sued in a case. Sometimes this person is also referred to as the defendant.

Statutes:
Laws enacted by legislature; they are arranged into codes.

Summons:
A paper that notifies a person about a lawsuit and requires the person receiving it to respond by a certain time and/or show up in court on a specific date.

Wage Withholding:
Wage withholding is the regular withdrawal of monies from a paycheck to pay off currently-owed child support. The monies are withdrawn before the employee receives his or her paycheck, just as taxes are often taken out before the paycheck is received. If a non- custodial parent owes an arrearage, additional monies may be garnished from a paycheck for the past-owed child support.

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