Glossary

Affidavit of Parentage

A sworn statement establishing paternity of a child signed by the mother and father and witnessed by a taker of oaths, such as a notary public.

Alleged father/Putative father

The man claimed to be the biological father of a child when the child has no legal father.

Arrearage

Unpaid payment for past periods owed by a parent who the court has ordered to pay child support.

Biological father

The man from whom one inherits half of one's DNA (genetic material).

Child support

The physical, emotional and financial support provided by the non-custodial parent for the support of his/her child.

Child support order

The ongoing obligation for a periodic payment made directly or indirectly by a non-custodial parent to a custodial parent, caregiver or guardian, or the government, for the care and support of a child.

Custodial party

The person with legal custody and with whom the child lives; may be a parent, relative or guardian.

Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA)

A nucleic acid that contains the genetic instructions used in the development and functioning of all known living organisms. DNA analysis offers a reliable way to determine the biological parent. Normally, every person carries two copies of every gene, one inherited from their mother, one inherited from their father.

Department of Human Services

The Michigan department that administers public assistance (FIP, Medicaid etc), child and family benefits.

Dependent

Child(ren) for whom the parent is legally and financially responsible. Child(ren) remain dependents until they are 18, graduate high school or are emancipated (released from parental responsibility) by a court.

Establishment of paternity

The legal acknowledgment of the parental relationship between a man and a child based on an Affidavit of Parentage or a court order.

Family Independence Program (FIP)

FIP is temporary cash assistance for low-income families with minor children and pregnant women. FIP helps families pay for living expenses such as rent, heat, utilities, clothing, food and personal care items.

Friend of the Court

The Friend of the Court is part of the family division of the circuit court and enforces court orders for child support and visitation.

Genetic test

A test conducted to establish whether a person is the biological mother (maternity test) or biological father (paternity test) of a certain individual. There are two possible results:

  • Exclusion – The tested individual is not within the range, and is not considered the biological parent

  • Non-ExclusionA high probability of paternity, greater than 99%, and the individual will be named the biological parent if no further testing is requested  

Income withholding

A legal process in which a part (up to 50%) of a person's wages are withheld and applied to payment of a child support debt.

Legal father

The man the law recognizes as the father of the child.

Lien

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

Mediation

Settlement of a dispute or controversy between two contending parties in order to aid them in the settlement of their disagreement.

Medicaid

A program jointly funded by the states and the federal government that reimburses hospitals and physicians for providing medical care to qualifying people.

Non-custodial parent

The parent who does not live with the child but has responsibility for providing physical, emotional and financial support.

Notary public

A person legally recognized by the state to administer oaths and take affidavits and statutory declarations, to witness and authenticate the execution of certain classes of documents.

Office of Child Support

The Office of Child Support (part of the Department of Human Services) administers and supervises the child support program for the state of Michigan.

Paternity

The legal determination of the father.

Paternity and/or child support complaint

The legal document filed in a court to request paternity establishment or to begin a child support case.

Prosecuting Attorney

An official who files and prosecutes actions to establish paternity and establish child support orders.

Support obligation

Amount of money to be paid as support by the legally responsible parent and the manner by which it is to be paid.

TANF

Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) is a federal assistance program which replaced the Aid to Families with Dependent Children program. The Michigan Department of Human Services provides TANF benefits on behalf of children who are deprived due to death, disability or lack of income. In Michigan, this is called the Family Independence Program.

Third-party custodian

An individual who is not the father or mother of the child, but may be a person or an agency, like foster care, that has physical and/or legal custody of the child.

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