SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A measure signed into law Monday by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham modernizes New Mexico’s child support law, bringing the state into compliance with federal regulations and national best practices.
State officials said the changes will keep New Mexico from losing out on more than $147 million in federal money that could provide temporary aid for low-income families.
The legislation updates the state’s statute to align with federal rules that are based on the combined parents’ actual income and the non-custodial parents’ ability to pay. It also allows the state to focus on providing employment opportunities and job security to help non-custodial parents meet their obligations.
Lujan Grisham said the law will result in more support for New Mexico kids.
“Teaming up with parents to find jobs and set child support orders that are affordable is a better way to increase consistent child support payments for New Mexico children,” she said in a statement. “Working parents who don’t live with their kids will be able to build stronger relationships with them when they feel good about being able to financially support them.”
The governor’s office pointed to studies that show non-custodial parents who owe less child support debt have significantly more contact with their children and are more effective parents.
The new law also adjusts the timetable for assessing fees and costs as well as for assessing retroactive child support arrears, reducing it from 12 years to three years. The court may assess for a longer period if there’s evidence that an action to establish paternity could not have been brought before the court any sooner.