“As a family law attorney for two decades, I know very well that it takes months to get a hearing to modify child support, and that it is very difficult to get support recalculated.”–Deborah Sirotkin Butler Joseph P. Kahn’s front page story Amid layoffs, child support pacts fraying: Stressed-out parents ask family court for help, relief (Boston Globe, 4/13/09) detailed the problems faced by child support obligors in the face a bad economy,
and featured a Fathers & Families’ supporter who was jailed because his diminished income prevented him from paying all of his child support. The story also discussed Fathers & Families’ highly-publicized lawsuit against the new, higher Massachusetts child support guidelines. In response to our Call to Action last week, many of you wrote Letters to the Editor of the Boston Globe, and the Globe published four of them. Given the Globe’s traditional antipathy towards fathers, the repeated recent coverage Fathers & Families has garnered and four of our supporters getting published is quite an accomplishment, and reflects our organization’s growing strength. In System sets up a de facto debtor’s prison (4/18/09), family law attorney Deborah Sirotkin Butler writes:
As a family law attorney for two decades, I know very well that it takes months to get a hearing to modify child support, and that it is very difficult to get support recalculated. Further, the “new partner,” if there is one, and the income added to a custodial household is rarely considered. Much child support seems to be a form of thinly disguised “household support” rather than child support at all.
Massachusetts’ child support orders are among the highest in the nation. If indeed a large percentage of the men in lockup are in de facto debtor’s prison, it is hard to understand how this helps children.
Keith Moak, a Miami, Florida Fathers & Families supporter, writes:
Children deserve fair child support. But I was outraged when I read, in “Amid layoffs, child support pacts fraying,” about the man who fell $23,000 behind in what he owed, including fees to his ex-wife’s attorney, and was handcuffed and put in jail for 30 days. What kind of unrealistic judge would do this, when this poor father had a modification petition pending? How does jailing a father who tries to play by the rules benefit the children? The judge needs a reality check.