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Child Support Laws Updated

The State updated the child support guidelines in May of 2008.  You may see an increase of 2 to 5% the next time your child support is adjusted.  See more info in the December 2008 Blog and in the CS Calculators Section



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Child Support Enforcement Division - Page One

Please consider the following a gross simplification of the role of the Child Support Enforcement Division in New Mexico. Some of this information is older, and it may not be accurate. Particular items, like how CSED works and controls the docket, may not be current at all.

The Child Support Enforcement Division(CSED) has frustrated a lot of people in New Mexico. The Federal Government has mandated that each state have a Title IV-D (called "4D") agency. The Federal Government wants to ensure that it is the children's parents who are supporting the children, rather than everyone else through their tax dollars. CSED helps ensure that appropriate parties are paying support.

Individual receiving funds through the state Human Services Department, such as TANF (Temporary Aid to Needy Families), are required to assign their right to child support to the state. The state then collects the child support that comes due, provides the TANF benefits, and passes through a small amount of the child support (usually $50). If child support has not yet been established, then CSED works to have it put in place.

CSED will also help an individual to get child support established even if they are not receiving any benefits, but there usually is a waiting list and people can wait a while before they are assisted. I have met with many potential clients who were tired of waiting for CSED to act. In these instances the child support is paid from the employer to CSED and it forwards the funds to the custodial parent. CSED will sometimes be allowed some portion of their attorney's fees from the opposing party in these cases.

CSED uses some of its Federal grant money to have Child Support Hearing Officers put in place in the larger communities. These officers are State employees and report through the judiciary branch of government, but there salaries come from CSED. At times you will see a push to have all child support recipients apply for aid through CSED. I believe, but am not sure, that this is because CSED will receive more funds if the money is actually processed through them. I am not a big fan of this system. A few paragraphs up from here I mentioned that CSED often times has a waiting list for people to receive services. In the situation described in this paragraph, everyone is already in Court, but a Hearing Officer or Judge is telling someone they need to apply for CSED services, so hopefully the Child Support is run through CSED, which will increase the State's Federal Funding. Because the case is already in Court, CSED will have to expend resources on this case. Moreover, since the parties are already in Court, the only difference you will see because of CSED's involvement is that the funds are channeled through their offices. When the resources are shifted to this case, someone else who is receiving no child support because they cannot find the obligor, will not have their needs met by CSED.

Here in Albuquerque, I have heard that the each of the four Domestic Relations Judges is allowed to transfer 20 support cases a month to the Child Support Hearing Officers. If the Hearing Officers are not too busy, they will occasionally have other issues presented to them. CSED likes the Hearing Officers because it allows the cases to be heard sooner, but CSED can control the Docket. Control of the Docket means that CSED actually determines when a matter will be heard and sends out the notices of hearing. To their credit, I have never heard that CSED has abused this authority by refusing to hear a matter.

CSED is a bureaucracy, and that is not a good thing. A lot of people complain that when they call in they find their old caseworker has been replaced by someone else and the new person does not know anything about their case. The caller is then at square one, again, explaining to another person what is going on. The caseworkers are also, supposedly, rated on how much work they do. For example, they get credit for every Child Support Order they put in place. I do not think they get credit for finding out that your tax refund intercept was applied to the wrong case, which may lead them to avoid these types of problems. The caseworkers, I do not believe, have authority to do much with your case, either. The attorneys and the attorney-supervisors are the ones who have the real decision making power. If your caseworker is unable to address your concerns, you may have no option but to file a Motion. If you force a court date by filing a Motion, then someone has to appear ready to discuss the issues you are raising. Unfortunately, if your case is "closed" it costs $137 to reopen it.

CSED does have some unusual powers. If their is a child support arrearage, they can have your driver's license or professional (lawyers, contractors and the like) license suspended. They can intercept tax returns and lottery winnings for a child support arrearage as well. All employers are also required to report the Social Security Number of new hires to the State. The State in turn tells the Federal Government which has a similar database. In this manner they are able to find individuals and put in place the support orders.

If you have an arrearage, it can be owed to the State (if the custodial parent was receiving State benefits) or to the custodial parent directly. If it is owed to the State, then they will sometimes make a deal with you for an up front payment. If you owe $5,000, the state may be willing to take a $4,000 payment immediately.