New program helps with child support

By WIlliam Thompson: Quay County Sun

A pilot program offered by the New Mexico Human Services Department will offer assistance to non-custodial parents who are behind in child support payments.

Child Support Enforcement Division director Stephanie Gonzales said in a press release that the “Fresh Start” program will help get the non-custodial parent on a regular, manageable payment plan.

“Amnesty forgiveness is a way of getting non-custodial parents in the doors of child support offices where we can begin to negotiate forgiveness of some of the child support owed, restore suspended licenses, or, possibly, decrease the interest rate being paid on arrears, “ Gonzales said.

The Fresh Start program has recently begun in northeastern New Mexico including Quay County.

Bettina McCracken, spokesperson for the human services department, said one goal of helping parents with child support payments is to get those parents more involved in their children’s lives.

“Many parents who owe back child support don’t spend time with their children because it is an uncomfortable situation to confront a former spouse one owes child support to,” McCracken said. “Statistics show that parents who are regularly paying child support are also regularly involved in their child’s life.”

McCracken said parents who fail to pay court-ordered child support may be unable to renew drivers’ licenses, hunting and fishing licenses and other professional licenses.

“From December 2004 to now, 5,713 licenses have been suspended in New Mexico for failure to pay child support”, McCracken said. “That covers 61 categories of licenses. If non-custodial parents participate in the Fresh Start program, they may be able to get their licenses reinstated.”

Overall there are 4,500 child support enforcement cases in northeastern New Mexico including Quay County.

Fresh Start
To participate in the Fresh Start Program call toll free: 1-888-293-0825