Child Support Definitions

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150% Multiplier

See 150% Multiplier for Shared Placement.

Account Seizure

One of the administrative enforcement actions available to child support agencies when enforcing overdue support. Includes financial accounts such as demand deposit account, checking or negotiable withdrawal-order account, savings, time-deposit account, or money-market mutual-fund account. See s. 49.853(1)(a), and s. 49.854, Wis. Stats.

Account Transfer

If income withholding is inapplicable, ineffective, or insufficient to ensure payment of support, s. 767.76, Wis. Stats., authorizes the court or family court commissioner to require that a child support payer identify or establish an account at a financial institution for the purpose of transferring periodic support payments.

Administrative Enforcement

Child support agencies have many tools they may use to enforce orders for child- and family support. Some tools require court actions. Other methods, known as administrative enforcement, are authorized by federal law and state statute and departmental administrative rules. See Administrative Rule DCF 152.

Administrative enforcement actions include, but are not limited to:

  • Child support liens
  • Account seizure
  • License denial/suspension/revocation
  • Passport denial
  • Property seizure
  • Tax and lottery intercept


A written statement made under oath before a notary public.

Alleged Father 

The man named by the mother to be the child’s father OR a man who believes he is the father and who brings a paternity action. The local child support agency will help the mother and/or the man with a paternity action (to establish legal fatherhood).

Arrears (or Arrearage) 

Support payments that are not paid and overdue. Also called past-due support or back support.

Assigned Support

For the parent getting cash benefits

When signing up for cash benefits from aid/benefit programs, you "assign" (sign over) your rights to child support as a condition of receiving the cash benefits. Federal rules control how much child support may be passed through to you when you get cash benefits. The rest is assigned (owed) to the state and is used to pay for the cash benefits that you received.

Please note: Parents no longer sign over the support owed to them before they sign up for cash benefits. The support owed to parents before they got cash benefits is still owed to the parents.

Assigned past-due support includes:

  1. The past-due child support that built up while getting cash benefits.
  2. Birth costs paid by the Medicaid or BadgerCare Plus program.

Starting April 2010: Families no longer getting cash benefits will get all payments made on assigned past-due support. The one exception is intercepted federal tax returns if the past-due support is owed for birth costs or AFDC assigned support.

Except for birth costs, the amount of assigned past-due support will never be more than the amount of cash benefits received. This is called "unreimbursed assistance."

For the paying parent

Except for birth costs, past-due assigned support you owe is the amount of support due, but not paid during the time your children were receiving cash benefits.


Signing over support payments to the state as a condition for receiving cash benefits.

Authorized Agencies in the Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgment Program

Under federal regulation, each state may decide which entities to include in the Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgment Program.

Birth hospitals, as well as non-hospital entities, that have received training may participate in Wisconsin's Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgment Program. These entities are referred to as "Authorized Agencies."

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Biological father

The birth or natural father. The man who makes a woman pregnant.

Child Support 

Money paid by a parent for the financial support of a minor child. It may include medical, dental, and educational expenses.

Child Support Court Order 

A legal document, issued by the court, setting the terms and the amount to be paid for the support of a child.

Comerica Bank

Comerica Incorporated is a financial services company headquartered in Dallas. They are the financial institution holding the payments disbursed to the Wisconsin EPPIC Debit MasterCard.


A written document filed in court in which the person who starts the action names the people and allegations involved, and the results wanted.


What must I do to cooperate?

You need to:
  • Give the child support agency the information they ask for about your child’s other parent.
  • Keep your appointments with your child support worker.
  • Attend any required court hearings about your child support case.
  • Report any child support paid directly to you by the other parent to your aid/benefits case worker.

If needed, the child support agency will try to establish legal fatherhood (paternity), and you will need to appear with your children for scheduled genetic tests.

The child support agency will ask the court to order child support that includes medical support.

Conceptive period  

The period of time when a child was likely to have been conceived. For a normal pregnancy, it is a period of 60 days -- about 240 to 300 days before the birth.


Failure to comply with a court order.

Court-Ordered Payee 

The person the court names to receive the support payments.


The authority given to one or both parents by the court to make major decisions regarding the child, such as decisions about school and medical care.

  • Sole custody:  One parent has custody.
  • Joint custody:  Both parents have custody.

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A person’s failure to answer the court or appear in a court within a certain number of days after being served with a summons or complaint.

Default Judgment

Decision made by the court when the person fails to answer or appear.

Disposable Income

Disposable income, or "aggregate disposable earnings," is that part of earnings that remains after deducting federal, state, and local withholding taxes, and Social Security/Medicare taxes.

Deductions for Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs), medical expense accounts, etc., do not reduce disposable income.

Due Process

"Due process" is the mechanism for ensuring fair treatment in child support actions. "Due process" components include notifying the parties of pending actions, allowing sufficient and reasonable time to respond, having procedures for requesting a review of an order or action and for requesting a court hearing, and for contesting the accuracy of the record.


Activities to make sure that a court order is obeyed.


EPPIC is a web-based financial system certified by MasterCard, Visa and the federal government for disbursement of payments and benefits. EPPIC provides customer service assistance to child support customers who are enrolled in the Wisconsin EPPIC Debit MasterCard.


To bring into existence by a legal process.

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Good Cause

Good Cause is a good reason for not cooperating with the child support program when getting W-2 services, cash benefits, or BadgerCare Plus benefits.

Good Cause exists when:

  • Cooperating with the child support agency might cause physical or emotional harm to you or your child, or
  • Your child was conceived as a result of incest or sexual assault, or
  • An adoption petition has been filed with the court, or
  • You are being helped for three (3) months or less by a social service agency in deciding if your parental rights should end.

If you believe you or your children might be harmed if you cooperate with the child support agency, talk with your aid/benefits case worker, and file a Good Cause claim. The aid/benefits agency will decide whether or not Good Cause exists.


A person other than the parent who is legally responsible for a child. Most children do not have a legal guardian. This only happens when a court gives legal custody and placement to someone other than the parents.

Initiating State

In interjurisdictional cases, the state or nation that sends a request to another state or nation for help in establishing or enforcing a child support order.

Irreparable Harm

Causing the person irreversible damage. In income withholding cases, establishing irreparable harm might exempt the payer from immediate income withholding. For example: The payer is married to his employer’s daughter, and is the father in an unrelated paternity case. Implementing income withholding in the paternity case could cause him to lose his job.


The official decision of the court.

Judicial Enforcement

In cases where past-due child- and/or family support have reached a certain level, and other enforcement remedies have been unsuccessful, child support agencies may seek relief through judicial enforcement. For example, the CSA may ask the court to find the obligor in contempt, or convict the obligor of criminal nonsupport, or the court may impose a judicial lien. However, most enforcement remedies are imposed administratively, without the need for judicial action.


The legal authority of a court. (The court might be a county, state, tribal, or international tribunal with the authority to exercise legal authority in the case).

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Kids Information Data System (KIDS)

The computer system the Wisconsin child support program uses to maintain information about court cases, court orders for support, and financial information about child support cases.


Your KIDS PIN is your child support personal identification number. In many cases, you may use your KIDS PIN for identification purposes rather than your Social Security number. Most letters and notices from the Child Support program will include your KIDS PIN. You may also get your KIDS PIN by calling your local child support agency.

Kinship Care

Cases in which the child lives with a relative other than the mother or father. This relative receives a cash benefit from the state. In these cases, both parents may be ordered to pay child support. Paid support is used to repay the Kinship Care program.

Legal Father

The man who is recognized by law as the father of a child.

Legally Obligated

Responsible under law.


A hold on property. A lien must be satisfied (paid in full) before the property can be sold.

Lien Docket

An electronic list of child support payers with a child support lien.

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Marital Presumption

When a mother is married at the time her baby is conceived or born, the law presumes her husband is the legal father. Only a court can decide otherwise.

Medical Support

Health insurance or payment for medical costs.


A newer court order that changes the terms of an earlier court order.

MoneyPass ATMs

Wisconsin EPPIC Debit MasterCard allows surcharge free access by utilizing MoneyPass ATMs.


A formal request to a court for an order or a ruling.

150% Multiplier for Shared Placement

When calculating support for Shared-Placement cases, each parent's share of support is multiplied by 150%. The 150% multiplier accounts for each parent's share of the children's basic support (clothing, transportation, personal care and incidental recreational costs).

Notary Public

A Notary Public (or Notary) is someone licensed by the state to witness signatures.

  • The Notary must watch you sign your papers. Do not sign your papers before you see the Notary.
  • You will need to show the Notary some proof of identity. If the notary does not know you, the proof should include an ID with your picture and with your signature.

Notaries can be found in banks, courthouses, and child support agencies. Many hospitals also have Notaries. Notaries are also listed in the Yellow Pages.

Order to Show Cause

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

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Paternity & Paternity Establishment

Paternity means legal fatherhood. It is another way of saying the child’s father is the legal parent.

Paternity establishment is the the process of making a man the legal father. Establishing paternity (legal fatherhood) allows the father to have his name on his child's birth record. It also gives the father and his child special rights.


A formal written request.


A person who brings a legal action or lawsuit.


As stated in the court order:

  • Physical Placement:  Periods of time a child spends in the care of a parent.
  • Primary Physical Placement:  Where the child lives most of the time.
  • Shared-Placement:  The child lives with each parent at least 25% of the time. Both parents assume all costs in proportion to the number of days he or she cares for the child. The time with each parent may or may not be equal.
  • Split-Placement:  A family with two or more children, in which, one parent has primary physical placement of one or more children, and the other parent has primary placement of the other children.
  • Combined Split-Placement & Shared-Placement:  A family with three or more children, in which, one or more children are in shared-placement and two or more children are in split-placement.

Property Liens & Seizure

One of the administrative enforcement actions available to child support agencies when enforcing overdue support. Includes financial accounts, personal property, and real property. See s. 49.854, Wis. Stats.

Pro-se & Motion

Pro se means "do it yourself" rather than using an attorney.

A motion is a written request to a court asking the court for an order, a ruling, etc.

A pro-se motion is a written request sent to a court by a person without using an attorney.

Purge Conditions

Purge conditions are an amount of money that the parent must pay or actions that the parent must take to avoid serving the jail sentence.


  • pay $1,000 before the end of the month
  • look for a job (work search documentation would be required)

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Release of Lien

Written authorization by the CSA, filed with the register of deeds, which ends a lien on a specific property. Releasing a lien allows the seller to transfer the property, while keeping the child support lien intact. If a release is not issued and filed, the buyer assumes responsibility for the lien, and the lien remains on the property until it expires, or until the property is transferred and the lien is released or satisfied.


A person against whom a court action is started.

Responding State

The state or nation receiving another state’s or nation's request for support enforcement services.

Satisfaction (Lien)

Paying a lien in full. After a lien is paid in full ("satisfied"), the lien may be released.


A stipulation is a legal agreement between two parties (such as the parents). Stipulations must be sent to a court for the court's approval. These agreements must receive court approval to be valid.

Substantial Change of Circumstances

For cases that receive services from their local child support agency (i.e., child support services):

A change is one that could result in the support order amount changing. The change might increase or decrease the support amount.

Examples that may lead to a substantial change:

  • A parent has a sizeable change in income (increase or decrease).
  • The court changes a child’s placement. The child now lives with the parent who is ordered to pay support.
  • The parent getting support applies for public assistance benefits, and the order is old or no support was ordered.

Income is based on your income or your ability to earn. Your ability to earn might change if your employer closes. The change in your earnings might be a substantial change. However if you decide to reduce your hours to part-time, your ability to earn has not changed. Your decision to work part-time is not a substantial change.

Substitute Care

Cases in which the child is in an out-of-home placement such as foster care, Kinship Care, a group home, or another type of institution. In these cases, both parents may be ordered to pay child support.


A legal notice and warning given to a person when that person is sued.

Transaction Denial

A transaction denial happens when your debit card is rejected when buying items, paying bills, or getting cash. The common reason for the denial is not having enough money in your debit card account to cover the costs of what you are trying to pay for with your card.

An example of a denial - you have $75 in your debit card account. The items you want to buy are $80. This purchase will be denied.


The US Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) defines tribunal as "the court, administrative agency, or quasi-judicial entity authorized to establish, enforce, or modify support orders or to determine parentage." Some states use administrative agencies to set and establish support; other states use their court system. The term "tribunal" encompasses both methods.

Variable Costs (When Using the Shared-Placement Guidelines)

Variable costs are reasonable costs above basic support costs. These costs include child care, tuition and a child’s special needs.


To refrain from applying or enforcing a rule, restriction, or fee. To refrain from claiming or insisting upon a right or claim.

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Updated October 18, 2012

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