Glossary of Terms

(This is a list of words or phrases, which are found in this reference and their meaning.)

Argument Court – the hearing level at which a support case is decided by a Judge when there is disagreement at both the conference and the Hearing Officer hearing.

Arrears – back support owed.

AVR (Automated Voice Response) system – a telephone system hooked up to the Domestic Relations PACSES computer which gives payment and other information without requiring the client to wait to speak to someone (available 24 hours/day, 7 days/week); the operator can be reached through this line also (during normal business hours).

Birth-Related Expenses – costs of reasonable and necessary health care for the mother or child or both incurred before, during or after the birth of the child born in or out of wedlock which are the result of the pregnancy or birth and which benefit either the mother or child.

Case Number – the 9-digit number given to a PACSES support case when it starts. This number is used for your case alone.

Child Support – money paid by parent to help provide food, clothing, & other things for a child. It may contain health insurance & payments for medical bills not covered by insurance.

Child Support Guidelines – used to decide how much child support a parent should pay. The State Supreme Court issues these guidelines. Amount of payment is based on both parents’ monthly net income.

Child Support Order – lists the amount of the child support payments & how often they must be made & other expenses the parent must pay, like health insurance or childcare costs.

Complaint – the name of the document that begins a support case.

Compliance Officer – An employee of the Domestic Relations Office who holds Contempt Conferences and takes other enforcement actions when defendants are not following the support Orders.

Conference Hearing – the meeting held with an employee of the Domestic Relations Office and the parties to get information and agree about the amount of support to be paid, and make decisions about any other parts of a support Order.

Conference Officer – a Domestic Relations employee who holds support conferences (see above).

Contempt Conference – a conference in which the Defendant must explain why he or she is not following the Support Order and where he/she must agree to the recommendation written by the Compliance Officer and signed by the Judge. The contempt conference is held in the Domestic Relations office. If no agreement is reached at the Contempt Conference, the matter is scheduled before a Judge at a Contempt Hearing.

Contempt Hearing – a hearing before a Judge in a Court Room to determine if a defendant willfully failed to comply with a support Order.

Credit Bureau Reporting – sending a report to credit reporting agencies informing them of defendants who owe over 60 days in arrears.

Custodial Parent – the parent who lives with the child. This parent receives child support payments.

Defendant – the person who is the “absent parent”; the one who pays support; also called the “non-custodial parent.”

Dependents – the person or persons (spouse and/or children) whom someone is bound by law to support

De Novo Court – the hearing level at which a support case is decided by a Judge where there is a disagreement at the conference and the Defendant or Plaintiff files for a hearing before the court.

De Novo Request – a document filed, usually by an attorney, stating why the recommended Order of the Conference Officer is not acceptable.

Domestic Relations Office – part of the County Court of Pleas. Domestic Relations office and courts play a neutral role in establishing a fair amount of child support. Also enforce child support orders.

Enforcement Court – a hearing in which the Defendant must explain why he or she is not following the Support Order and where they must agree to the recommendation written by the Compliance Officer and signed by the Judge. The hearing may be held in the Domestic Relations office and/or before the Judge in a Court Room. Also known as a “Rule Hearing”.

Exceptions – a document filed, usually by an attorney, stating why the recommended Order of the Hearing Officer is not acceptable.

Genetic Testing – Testing used to establish paternity.

Hearing – an official Court meeting before a Compliance Officer, a Hearing Officer or a Judge.

Hearing Officer – an attorney appointed by the Court to hear support cases when there has not been an agreement at the Conference; in some counties this person is called a “Master.”

Interstate – see U.I.F.S.A.  

IRS Intercept – the action of taking a defendant’s IRS tax refund for the purpose of paying support arrears.

Judgment – When a defendant owes back support it is automatically a judgment. This judgment can be filed in the Prothonotary’s office and become a lien on the property owned by the defendant. This procedure may be used if a defendant is not paying on the Support Order.

Lien – past due support automatically becomes a legal claim on the property of the person owing arrears.

Local Case – a case in which both parties are under the control of the Clearfield County Court.

Member ID Number – a 10-digit personal identification number used to identify you as a member in a PACSES case or cases.

Modifying an Order – changing an Order, such as raising or lowering the amount of support, or adding or subtracting a dependent.

Monthly Support Order (MSO) – All Support Orders are converted to a monthly amount (MSO) on the PACSES system.

Non-Custodial Parent – the parent who does not live with the child. This parent pays child support.

Notice of Non-compliance – a notice to the defendant that the support Order is not being followed; usually sent if there has been no payment for 30 or more days.

PACSES (Pennsylvania Automated Child Support Enforcement System) – a large, statewide computer system that is used to track cases, keep financial records, and to automate the enforcement of support orders.

Parties – the adult people involved in the support case.

Paternity Establishment  – creating a legal relationship between father & a child when the parents are not married.

Paternity Test – test to identify the father of a child. Also called a genetic test.

Plaintiff – the person who asks for support; the one who starts the case, the one with whom the child lives; also called the “custodial parent.”

Reciprocal Case – a case in which one of the parties is under the control of a court other than Clearfield County.  See U.I.F.S.A.

Retroactive Arrears – back support that happened between the time the Plaintiff started the support case and the time a money Order starts.

State Collection & Disbursement Unit (SCDU) – place here child support payments are collected & distributed. It’s located in Harrisburg. The state Department of Public Welfare operated SCDU.

T.A.N.F. – Temporary Assistance for Needy Families: cash welfare grant for children.

U.I.F.S.A. – Uniform Interstate Family Support Act – governs administration of Interstate Support cases.

Wage Attachment Order – an Order of Court telling an employer to take a certain amount of money from the defendant’s pay for support, and requiring the employer to pay the support directly to the Domestic Relations Section.

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