Non-custodial parents, who have outstanding child support bench warrants in Roswell, and statewide, will be given a one-week amnesty period to make their court-ordered child support payments. The amnesty period will begin Monday, Oct. 31, and ends Friday, Nov. 4.
Gov. Susana Martinez announced Thursday that her administration will be entering the next phase of its Child Support Enforcement Bench Warrant Program by expanding the program statewide. During the amnesty period, individuals can come to the Human Services Department’s Child Support Enforcement Division (CSED) offices, without fear of arrest, to settle their bench warrants and bring themselves into compliance with their court-ordered child support obligations, according to a press release from the governor’s office.
The Roswell CSED office will be receiving payments during the amnesty period, according to Matt Kennicott, communications director for the NMHSD. Kennicott said although the Roswell office serves Chaves and Eddy counties, any individual, throughout the state, with an outstanding bench warrant can turn in a payment to the office.
As of Friday morning, there were 18 outstanding bench warrants in Chaves County. The largest outstanding amount for a bench warrant in the county is $49,309.89. And the oldest bench warrant issued in the county is from Jan. 8, 2007.
Individuals must pay the full amount of their bond in order to be fully cleared of arrest charges. “Every penny of this money goes to the child,” Kennicott said.
CSED offices will accept cash, cashier’s check, or money order as payment. The amount of the bond is then forwarded to the family as a child support payment.
According to the press release, the names of all non-custodial parents who do not resolve their bench warrants during the amnesty period will be submitted to law enforcement statewide. Law enforcement agencies will then conduct bench warrant round-ups to locate and take these individuals into custody.
Earlier this year, Gov. Martinez and the NMHSD launched the program in Bernalillo, Sandoval, and Valencia counties with the help and support of the New Mexico State Police and local law enforcement agencies.
According to the press release, a one-week bench warrant amnesty period took place in July, resulting in 26% of all non-custodial parents on the list coming forward and clearing their warrants. In early September, a bench warrant roundup was conducted in Bernalillo, Sandoval, and Valencia counties with 12 law enforcement agencies. These efforts resulted in the collection of nearly $50,000 for New Mexico children.
Kennicott said the initiative from the governor to extend the program statewide emerged from several different ideas. The state used to publish a 25 most wanted list of the most delinquent parents in the state. The list was discontinued two years ago under the previous administration. According to Kennicott, when Gov. Martinez was elected into office she wanted to see this effort stepped up again. “The [bench warrant] program is something we helped develop here at the department [HSD] to meet her goals,” Kennicott said. He said the department is taking the program a couple of steps further by listing the names of the individuals, their addresses and the date the bench warrants were issued to them.
“Child support payments are a problem nationwide,” Kennicott said. “We want to do everything we can to ensure all of these non-custodial parents come current in their obligations to their children.”
All child support delinquents in New Mexico who have outstanding bench warrants will be posted online by the Human Services Department. For the full list go to www.hsd.state.nm.us/CSEDBenchWarrants.html.