Governor Susana Martinez announced today that the state is cracking down on deadbeat parents who have not paid their child support payments by taking steps to revoke or suspend their professional licenses, driver's licenses, and hunting and fishing licenses.
"We will do everything in our power to ensure individuals are paying their child support payments on time so New Mexico's children are receiving the resources they need," Governor Martinez said. "We are offering those who are not in compliance an opportunity to pay their child support before having their professional and occupational licenses, driver's licenses, and hunting and fishing licenses taken away. We are sending a loud and clear message to those with child support obligations that they have a responsibility to provide for their children."
The New Mexico Regulation and Licensing Department has sent out 1,600 letters to various occupational license holders who are delinquent on their child support payments. "These individuals range anywhere from accountants to pharmacists to private investigators who are licensed by the state to practice their professions," said J. Dee Dennis Jr., Superintendent of the Regulation and Licensing Department. "We have given these individuals up to 30 days to come into compliance with their court-ordered child support payments or face the possibility of having their licenses suspended or revoked."
"This license suspension effort builds upon the commitment laid out by Governor Martinez in July during the bench warrant program rollout to collect for the children of New Mexico the child support they are owed by their parents," said Sidonie Squier, Secretary of the Human Services Department (HSD), which administers the Child Support Enforcement Division (CSED). "We are sending the message that if you owe support to your child, you must either pay or face the consequences."
About 50 different trades and professions are licensed and regulated by the Regulation and Licensing Department. This new initiative by the Regulation and Licensing Department builds upon the success of the Governor's Bench Warrant Program which launched in July.
The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish publishes a list of all delinquent non-custodial parents on their website whose hunting and fishing licenses have been revoked for non-payment of child support. The Human Services Department (HSD) will be sending out roughly 600 letters this week to inform these parents that their licenses will be suspended.
Currently, there are 11,421 individuals statewide who have failed to make their child support payments since January 1, 2011. In an average year, HSD, in conjunction with the Motor Vehicle Division, suspends the driver's licenses of approximately 5,775 individuals who have failed to make child support payments. In order to have their driving privileges restored, these individuals must make a lump sum payment to CSED and pay a license reinstatement fee to the Motor Vehicle Division.
In July, CSED published a list of non-custodial parents who were delinquent in their child support and for whom a bench warrant for their arrest had been issued by the district courts of Valencia County, Bernalillo County, and Sandoval County. CSED offered a one week amnesty period to allow non-custodial parents to come into the CSED offices to cure their delinquencies. Following the expiration of the amnesty period, the State Police and over 12 law enforcement agencies, including Bernalillo, Sandoval and Valencia County Sheriff's Departments, successfully conducted a child support enforcement bench warrant sweep.
This program was the first of its kind in the state and, during the Bench Warrant Project, a total of 32 non-custodial parents were either arrested or contacted CSED on their own to pay their bench warrant bonds. CSED collected $76,774 in bonds during August 2011, a 113.7% increase over the previous seven month average of $35,912. Unlike an appearance bond, the full amount of the child support bench warrant bond is paid over to the child's family as support.