Fathers & Families Files Lawsuit to Stop New Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines

Fathers and Families has filed suit in Federal District Court in Boston to stop the scheduled January 1 implementation of new Child Support Guidelines. The suit seeks a temporary injunction halting the use of the new guidelines until a full hearing can be held. It will be heard before Judge D.P. Woodlock on Monday, January 5 at 10 AM in courtroom 1.

We need a big war chest to pursue our legal offensive. Please support this effort with your tax-deductible gift to Fathers & Families, by clicking here. If you make your gift today, it is still eligible for a 2008 tax deduction. For those of you outside of Massachusetts, remember that a victory here could establish precedents that will help you in your state.

If you are in the Boston area, you must make it a point to attend the hearing on Monday. Judge Woodlock needs to see that our position has broad support. If you “leave it to the other guy,’ it won”t happen. The hearing is expected to last between thirty and sixty minutes. Directions can be found here.

Fathers & Families” attorney Gregory Hession of Springfield argues that the new guidelines were not formulated using the actual costs of raising a child, as required by federal law, and are thus “arbitrary and capricious.’ The pleadings before the court assert that the process used to put together the new guidelines violated the due process and equal protection rights of the payers of child support, as protected under the United States Constitution. Additionally, the state bypassed the normal legislative process by having a secret committee prepare them and a single judge declare them to be law, in violation of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights.

The new guidelines will cause almost all child support orders to increase substantially — when all factors are considered, middle-class recipients will enjoy a standard of living almost double that of payers who earn about the same amount. In some cases, child support orders will triple, even in cases in which the payer is poor and the child is economically comfortable because the custodial parent earns over $100,000. And in high income cases, the child support order for one child could be nearly $50,000.

You can read the legal Complaint by clicking here, and the Memorandum of Law by clicking here.

Fathers & Families Executive Director Ned Holstein, MD, served on the commonwealth”s Task Force that recommended the new guidelines, but authored a minority report dissenting from the main recommendations. Dr. Holstein said, “The new guidelines will harm children. Kids want to live with both parents after divorce, and we want them to be well cared for in both homes. But these new guidelines will create a ‘castle versus a hovel” situation for kids. These increases are radical and unexplained. They come at the worst possible moment, just as a bad recession is causing people to lose their jobs or suffer declining incomes. Our lawsuit is a way of saying, ‘Let”s pause and reconsider the wisdom of these controversial changes at this moment.”‘

Fathers & Families Press release on the lawsuit can be seen here.

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