Enforcement of Child Support in New Mexico

November 17th, 2009 in Child Support

Non-compliance with court ordered child support is all too common in New Mexico family law cases. Many times, the non-custodial parent simply refuses to pay child support. Just as frequently, particularly in the current economy, the non-custodial parent is unable to pay court ordered child support.

When a non-custodial parent is unwilling or unable to pay child support, it can create a very difficult financial situation for the custodial parent. Not surprisingly, as the economy worsens, the number of custodial parents who are not receiving support increases as shown by the ever-growing caseload of the New Mexico Child Support Enforcement Division (“CSED”).

Given that child support is mandatory under the New Mexico Child Support Guidelines set forth in the child support statute, NMSA 40-4-11.1, it would seem that the enforcement of child support would be relatively straightforward. In theory, the delinquent parent will be made to pay arrearages on unpaid child support and ordered to pay ongoing support. The Court even has the power to charge the delinquent with contempt and have that parent arrested, although such arrests are rare.

However, the practical problem with enforcement of a child support order is that the amount of court ordered child support is often relatively low in comparison to the cost of paying an attorney to enforce the child support order. Thus, a custodial parent who is not receiving support should carefully weigh the possible attorney fees associated with enforcement of a child support order versus their potential recovery. It may be that it is best to pursue the matter without the assistance of an attorney.

All parents looking to enforce a child support order should consult with the New Mexico Child Support Enforcement Division prior to filing a motion to enforce support. While CSED may be slow to get started on a case because of its very large caseload, once CSED gets moving on an enforcement case they are extremely effective.

To get started, the custodial parent should open a file with CSED. Once the file is open, the party can file a Motion to Enforce Child Support requesting the Court make CSED a party to the action. Once the court makes CSED a party, CSED will be present at all subsequent child support hearings. The presence and assistance of CSED at the hearing will go a long way toward have the matter fairly and promptly resolved by the court.