Federal Court Rules Draconian New Child Support Guidelines Must Be Contested in State Courts, Not Federal

Federal judge Douglas Woodlock today refused to decide the merits of a constitutional challenge to Massachusetts” draconian new child support guidelines, claiming that the guidelines are a state matter.

Dr. Ned Holstein, MD, executive director of Fathers and Families, which filed the suit to block the new guidelines from coming into effect, said the group is considering re-filing the lawsuit in state court within days.

According to the Associated Press, “In its complaint, the group said the new guidelines call for support payments to be calculated based primarily on income, not the expenses incurred by the parents to raise the child.’

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.

The Massachusetts Lawyers” Weekly adds:

“Fathers & Families argues that Massachusetts Chief Administrative Judge Robert Mulligan and the Trial Court violated the federal equal protection clause by implementing discriminatory rules, the federal due process clause by passing a law by ‘judicial fiat,” and the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights by passing a law without the participation of the other two branches of state government.’

Dr. Holstein 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. We call it the “two condo solution.’ But these new guidelines will create a ‘castle versus a hovel” situation for kids. These increases are radical and unexplained and come at the worst possible moment–just as a bad recession is causing people to lose their jobs or suffer declining incomes.’

Fathers & Families needs a big war chest to pursue its legal offensive–please support this effort with your tax-deductible gift to Fathers & Families by clicking here. For those of you outside of Massachusetts, remember that a victory here could establish precedents that will help you in your state.

There was a large courtroom turnout in support of Fathers & Families’ suit, close to 50 people –thanks to all of you who managed to get away from work on a post-holiday Monday morning to support this case.

Read the Associated Press coverage of the case here.

Read and comment on the Massachusetts Lawyers” Weekly coverage of the case here.

You can read Fathers & Families’ legal Complaint by clicking here, and Fathers & Families’ Memorandum of Law by clicking here.

Dr. Holstein’s minority report dissenting from the main recommendations can be seen here.

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