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Child support problems despite improvement efforts

By: Melissa Gundersen
EL PASO, Texas -- For the thousands of separated and divorced parents in the Borderland looking to battle out their child support issues in front of a judge, wait times have gone down.

Child Support Court Judge Antonio Rodriguez said wait times have gone down dramatically ever since a second judge was brought on board about four months ago to hear new cases. Handling about 50 cases a day, Rodriguez said the extra help is causing backlog problems to dwindle and it's getting people into the courtroom faster.
 
Previously, any new cases that were filed by the Attorney General we were scheduling them maybe three, four months ahead of time.  Now Im scheduling my cases, because that's how we split up the docket, my cases, we're hearing them within two months, said Rodriguez.
 
But it's not all good news for parents.  Angry El Pasoans took to Facebook and shared stories about their child support battles with KFOX14.  Many people started their messages like this: "Child support is really a joke, said Elias Israel Dominguez.
 
While some people said they have noticed a drop in wait times, most people said thats just one of many problems.
 
Nothing is getting done, said Corina Talamantes of Far East El Paso.
 
Talamantes is helping raise her husbands 9-year-old daughter.  Even though she claimed they were supposed to get child support from the ex-wife, she said, In five years, he hasn't received anything from her.
 
Now the ex-wife has custody of his daughter and Talamantes said treatment isnt the same.
 
It took them four weeks for them to start taking child support out of him and we've been trying for five years to get child support from her, said Talamantes.
 
Talamantes called it gender bias.  It's an issue many parents have brought to KFOX14s attention.
 
Another major complaint is people are claiming the court isn't monitoring payments or punishing people who don't pay up.
 
"This guy owes over $12,000 in child support, said Maria Casillas.
 
My ex owes almost a little over $10,000 and she is walking around like nothing, said Ivan Lopez.
 
Another woman, Gloria Valenzuela of Horizon, said after the court ordered her ex to pay more in child support, he hired an attorney. He now has custody of their 16-year-old son, so Valenzuela said she's ordered to pay.
 
He wants me to pay insurance for him, $70 a month, said Valenzuela.
 
Valenzuela said the ironic part is, while on paper her ex has custody, in reality her son still lives with her.
 
How does that work?  Where is the law? asked Valenzuela.
 
Most of the parents who contacted KFOX14 regarding their child support battles said they have gone to the Attorney General's Office looking for a help but don't feel any closer to a resolution.
 
Its the whole system. It needs to get fixed, said Talamantes.
 
According to the numbers by the Attorney Generals Office, though, they are working to turn things around.  2013 was a record setting year for the Attorney General in terms of collecting child support payments.
 

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