Glossary of Terms A-L


A person or entity who asked for child support services or was referred for child support services by one of the following programs: Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP), Diversionary Work Program (DWP), IV-E Foster Care, Medical Assistance (MA), MinnesotaCare, and Child Care Assistance (CCAP).


The term arrears, and arrearage, mean an obligation that is overdue and unpaid.

Automatic Recurring Withdrawal

Automatic Recurring Withdrawal (ARW) allows obligors to authorize the Child Support Enforcement Division to automatically deduct payments from a specific checking account or savings account. Once the withdrawal is set up, the bank electronically withdraws the support payments from the obligor's bank account. Then the bank automatically sends the payment to the Child Support Payment Center. The obligor must be the owner of the bank account. The obligor authorizes the Child Support Payment Center to automatically withdraw support payments once or twice per month, on the fifth or twentieth of the month. Applicants for automatic recurring withdrawal must include a blank, voided check or a preprinted savings account deposit slip with their completed authorization.

Basic Support

Basic support is money a parent pays to the other parent (or another person or agency) for the child's housing, food, clothing, transportation, and education expenses.

Child Care Assistance

The Child Care Assistance Program helps families pay child care costs for children up to age 12 and for children with special needs up to age 14. Child care costs may be paid for qualifying families while they go to work, look for work, or attend school.

Child Care Support

Child care support is contributing to the cost of work or education-related child care costs.

Child Support

Child support is an amount for basic support, child care support, and medical support in accordance with an award in a legal proceeding for the care, support and education of a child of the parties to the proceeding, a contribution by parents under Minnesota Statute § 256.87, or support ordered under Chapter 518B or 518C.

Child Support Payment Center

The Child Support Payment Center (CSPC) processes support payments in Minnesota. Federal and State laws require the state to establish a central collection unit to collect, process, and distribute payments for all cases where the state or county is a party, child support services are involved, or payments are collected through income withholding. The obligor's participant number should be included with every payment. Sending payments to a county child support office will delay the payment. Sending a payment directly to an obligee when the child support agency is handling the case may result in the obligor not getting credit for the payment.

Combined PICS

Combined PICS is both parents individual Parental Income for Support (PICS) added together.

Consumer Credit Protection Act

A law defining the maximum amount that can be withheld from an obligor’s disposable income. For the purposes of child support withholding, an employer may only withhold:
  • 50 percent of disposable income, if the obligor is supporting a second family
  • 55 percent of disposable income, if the obligor is supporting a second family and there are arrearages
  • 60 percent of disposable income, if the obligor is not supporting a second family
  • 65 percent of disposable income, if the obligor is not supporting a second family and there are arrearages
A second family includes a spouse or a dependent child other than the spouse or child for who support is owed.

Contempt of Court

A person may be found in contempt of court if the person fails to do something that the court ordered that person to do or if that person does something in court that the court orders the person not to do.

The child support agency may ask the court to find an obligor in contempt of court for not making support payments. If the court finds the obligor in contempt, the court may order the obligor to serve a jail sentence unless the obligor begins to meet certain conditions, such as making regular support payments.

Cost Recovery Fee

The one percent cost recovery fee is a fee the Child Support Enforcement Division charges applicants for child support services. The Child Support Enforcement Division uses this fee to reduce the cost of providing child support services for children. This cost recovery fee is one percent of all child support and maintenance payments an applicant receives or owes on a case up to a maximum amount. The Child Support Enforcement Division sets this limit annually. Obligors and obligees may pay one percent cost recovery fees in addition to other program fees.

Cost of Living Adjustment

A cost of living adjustment (COLA) is an increase in basic and spousal support every two years due to inflation. Changes in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) determine the amount of the increase. The increase is automatic unless the obligor challenges the increase by filing a motion with the court.

Court Order

A court order is a legally binding directive from a court of law that is issued by a magistrate, judge, or referee.

Credit Bureau Reporting

The child support agency reports overdue child support to credit bureaus monthly. Once the past due support has been reported to the credit bureaus, banks, or other creditors that review the obligor's credit bureau report may limit or deny credit until the obligor cleans up the credit report by making partial or full payment.

Current Support

Current support is an ongoing court-ordered obligation for support due each month and is either received by the Child Support Payment Center or withheld by the obligor's employer or other payor of funds.

Custodial Parent

The custodial parent is a person (or agency) receiving spousal maintenance or child support. Another term used for custodial parent is obligee.

Dental Coverage

Dental coverage is defined as dental benefits that are provided by a dental plan. This definition does not include public coverage through medical assistance or MinnesotaCare.

Direct Deposit

Direct deposits are support payments sent electronically from the Child Support Payment Center to the obligee's financial institution for deposit into the obligee's checking account, savings account, or stored value card account.

Direct Payment

A direct payment is money an obligor pays directly to an obligee to satisfy a support obligation. Obligees must forward any direct support payments received to the Child Support Payment Center to be credited to the case.

Diversionary Work Program

The Diversionary Work Program, or DWP, is a four-month program that helps low-income Minnesota families find a job.

Driver's License Suspension

Driver's license suspension is an enforcement procedure where the child support agency directs the Department of Public Safety (DPS) to suspend the obligor's driver's license because the obligor owes past due support and is not paying the support obligation.

Due Process

Due process is defined as taking legal or administrative actions according to established rules and principles for the protection of a parent's rights.


For child support, emancipation occurs when a person is no longer legally a child. Before May 18, 1983, a child was a person under 18, unless the court order stated otherwise. Since May 18, 1983, a child is a person under 18 years of age, or under 20 years of age if still attending secondary school, or a person who is incapable of self-support due to a physical or mental condition, unless a court order states otherwise.


Enforcement is the application of remedies to obtain payment of a support obligation contained in a support order. Examples of remedies include:
  • Arrearage collection project
  • Credit bureau reporting
  • Contempt of court
  • Income withholding
  • Passport denial
  • Revenue recapture
  • Student grant holds
  • Suspension of licenses (e.g. driver's, occupational, recreational)

Financial Institution Data Match

Financial Institution Data Match (FIDM) is an enforcement tool that allows the child support agency to match obligors who owe child support arrears with financial assets they own. The account assets may be seized by a levy and applied to the obligor's child support arrears.

Gross Income

Gross income is income from all sources plus Social Security or Veterans' Benefits payments received on behalf of a joint child's behalf, and parent's potential income (see definition of potential income) minus spousal maintenance the parent has been order to pay and child support the party has been ordered to pay for nonjoint children.


A standard method for setting child support obligations based on the income of the parents and other factors as determined by law.

Health Care Coverage

Health care coverage is defined as health care benefits that are provided by a health plan. This definition does not include public coverage through medical assistance or MinnesotaCare.

Income Withholding

The deduction of support from an obligor's wages or other sources of income.

Income Withholding-only Services

Child support agencies provide income withholding-only services to record and process child support and maintenance payments that an obligor's employer or payor of funds withholds from the obligor's wages. The child support agency charges the obligor $15 per month for income withholding-only services. The child support agency does not provide any other services or enforcement activities for income withholding-only cases.

IV-D Case

A IV-D case is a case in which a party has assigned rights to the child support agency because the party is receiving public assistance or has applied for child support services. The IV-D case number is a 12-digit number.

Joint Child

A joint child is the dependent child who is the child of both parents in the support proceeding. In cases in which support is sought from only one parent of a child, a joint child is the child for whom support is sought.

Joint Legal Custody

Joint legal custody means that both parents have equal rights and responsibilities, including the right to participate in major decisions about the child's upbringing, including education, health care, and religious training.

Joint Physical Custody

Joint physical custody means that the routine daily care and control of the child is structured between the parents.


The legal authority that a court has over a person, certain type of case, and a defined geographical area.

Legal Custody

Legal custody means the right to determine the child's upbringing, including education, health care, and religious training.

View terms M-Z.