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Back Child Support (Child Support Arrearages)

Collecting Back Child Support

There are as many as 26,000 deadbeat parents in New Mexico owing a total of $680 million in overdue child support payments. Despite these high numbers, over the last seven years New Mexico has set a record for child support collections.  In 2010, alone  $123.5 million in overdue child support payments were collected.

When considering the issue of back child support the most logical place to begin is in determining when the child support obligation started in the first place. If the parents were married, child support begins the date the divorce is final. This is the case even though there may have been a temporary child support order in place during the divorce proceedings. The reason for this is that any amount of child support due under the temporary order that was not paid is included in the final divorce decree.  If the parents were not married to each other, retroactive child support may be calculated back to the birth of the child and may also include certain pregnancy and birth-related expenses.

Who Can Enforce The Child Support Order?

The New Mexico Child Support Enforcement Division (CSED) is the state-run child support enforcement office for New Mexico. Recent statistics show that the number of child support enforcement cases pending in New Mexico is at a record high and many believe that the bad economy is the reason.

You Should Take Action As Soon As Possible To Collect Back Child Support Payments

If you are financially able, you should seek the services of an attorney with experience in collecting child support.  Unfortunately, the reality is that many that are owed child support do not have the resources to hire a private attorney.  In that case, you should contact your local child support enforcement division right away if you are owed back child support payments. You will need to go in to one of the offices to apply for assistance.  Be sure to take your Child Support Order with you to avoid delay.  Also, be prepared to provide details regarding payment history or lack thereof.

New Mexico law provides for a 14 year statute of limitations for the collection of back child support. The 14 years starts from the date that each child support payment became due. Despite this lengthy statute of limitations most courts will agree that there must not be an unreasonable delay in pursuing back child support payments. From a practical perspective the more back support that accrues the more difficult it will be to collect.

Interest On Back Child Support

In most cases, CSED or the court will also include an amount for interest owed on an order for back child support. Under New Mexico law the amount of interest shall be calculated at the rate of 8¾% per year. The decision to award interest is a public policy consideration in that the award of interest encourages the non-paying parent to make their child support payments on time. Inclusion of interest also provides the child some compensation for his or her loss caused by the late child support payments.

You Can Still Collect Child Support If The Non-Paying Parent Has Moved Out of State

Some people will even go so far as to flee the state or country in an effort to avoid having to pay child support. While collection may be more difficult from someone that is on the move it is not impossible. The law requires that each state recognize and uphold a child support order properly issued in another state, and more that 100 countries have reciprocal child support arrangements for cross-border enforcement. The non-custodial parent is legally required to make regular child support payments, regardless of where they live.

Changed Circumstances (Loss or Decrease in Income)

It is not uncommon for the parents to agree that the non-custodial parent may make child support payments in an amount less than that ordered for a period of time. Sometimes this happens when the non-custodial parent losses his or her job and the custodial parent is trying to be understanding. Inevitably these verbal agreements lead to misunderstandings and a claim for unpaid back child support.  It is best simply not to make or rely on such verbal agreements because the failure to pay the full amount as stated in the child support order can result in serious consequences to the non-custodial parent and may give the custodial parent significant leverage in other matters. If circumstances have materially changed regarding one parent‘s financial situation then a Motion to Modify Child Support should be filed immediately in order to reflect those conditions.  Keep in mind that any modification of support goes back only to the date of filing of the Motion to Modify so delay can be extremely costly.

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