Santa Fe, N.M. – Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham proclaims August 2021 Child Support Awareness Month, salutes all New Mexico parents who support their children, and encourages all New Mexicans to work together to foster a better understanding of the importance of fulfilling financial responsibilities to our children.
“This year New Mexico made some major changes to the child support program, that comprehensively modernizes and aligns it with federal regulations and national best practices,” said Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. “Now it is time for New Mexico’s families to benefit from those changes that were implemented in July and bring in more consistent child support payments for New Mexico’s children to help them be happy and healthy.”
The child support changes occurred through Senate Bill 140, which passed unanimously through both chambers of the legislature, signed by Gov. Lujan Grisham, and took effect July 1, 2021.
- Updated child support guideline table based on combined parents’ actual income and non-custodial parents’ ability to pay.
- Allows the ability to modify a child support order for the child’s health care needs.
- Reduces the timeframe for establishing retro-active child support from 12-years to three to improve child support collections.
“These changes allow the New Mexico Child Support program to continue its modernization efforts in establishing right-sized court orders that the non-custodial parent can afford resulting in more consistent payments and less debt, which ultimately benefits New Mexico’s children,” said David R. Scrase, M.D., HSD Cabinet Secretary.
In an effort to get the word out about the changes in the Child Support program, the New Mexico Human Services Department is launching a promotional campaign: The Modern Child Support Family Program. The campaign launches during Child Support Awareness Month with public awareness announcements on television and radio in English and Spanish, and Navajo on radio.
“The ads are designed to inform the public about the recent changes, including the focus on assisting non-custodial parents with job development and job opportunities through a partnership with the Department of Workforce Solutions,” said Kari Armijo, HSD Deputy Secretary. “The Supporting, Training, and Employment Parents Up (STEPUp!) program is an important initiative to assist parents who are unemployed or underemployed get the support services they need to find a job or better job to help support their children and avoid further enforcement actions.”
Employment and employers play a vital role in the child support program. During the last fiscal year, the Child Support program collected $147.5 million in child support collections, resulting in an average of $135.79 collected per child per month. Fifty-five percent of those collections are made through wage withholdings through employers. Data on a HSD pilot program show that collections increased by 18.5% per child by focusing on providing job opportunities and sustained work participation for non-custodial parents.
“Employers deserve a big thank you each and every month, as they work hard in doing their part to ensure consistent payments make it through to the child support program,” said Betina Gonzales McCracken, Acting Child Support Director.
During the month of August, parents who have an active bench warrant due to unpaid child support obligations, are encouraged to reach out to the Child Support Program to try and settle their bench warrant by paying the full bond without fear of arrest.
If an individual is unable to pay the full amount of the bond set by the court, a negotiated, reduced bond payment or payment plan toward the amount of past due child support may be worked out, with the consent of the parent to whom the support obligation is owed, and the approval of the court that issued the warrant. Non-custodial parents with a written job offer may also request to negotiate a lower bond payment with successful wage withholding payments.
Individuals having questions about any of the Child Support Enforcement Month activities may contact the HSD Consolidated Customer Service Center at 1 (800) 283-4465.
A copy of the Governor’s August Child Support Awareness Month Proclamation can be found at https://www.hsd.state.nm.us/wp-content/uploads/071921-Child-Support-Awareness-Month-August-2021.pdf