Holstein: ‘The child support system turns low-income fathers into criminals’

“Dr. Ned C. Holstein, chairman of the board of directors of Fathers and Families in Boston, said the child-support system is another form of war on poor people. The system turns low-income fathers into criminals, he said.

“‘The child support orders are so high, we will see more and more of this, particularly with a recession,’ said Holstein, an internist in Boston. He said he believes child support should be paid by people who have the money.”

The Springfield Republican article Mass. highlights father of Northampton boy, 9 others, it says are wanted for failure to pay child support (2/25/09) rehashes the usual stereotypes of irresponsible dads and angelic, long-suffering moms. I suggest all readers do three things:

1) Comment on the article here.

2) Write reporter Dan Ring and (politely) explain the problems with the child support system–to write, click here. (Remember–while his article was slanted against fathers, to his credit, he did quote Dr. Holstein)

3) Write a Letter to the Editor of the Springfield Republican by clicking on

According to the article:

[T]he state Department of Revenue unveil[ed] the new “10 most wanted” poster of fathers who are evading child support…The poster, the 15th released over the years, was presented by revenue Commissioner Navjeet K. Bal.

“The 10 individuals on this new poster, who together owe $733,481 in unpaid child support for 19 children, have willfully evaded their basic parental responsibility in terms of both financial and emotional support,” Bal said. “They have left an incredible burden for custodial parents to bear, and they have left holes in the hearts of their children.”

Certainly there are fathers who do not live up to their responsibilities to their children, but the Massachusetts Department of Revenue’s new “10 most wanted” poster itself supports Holstein’s/Fathers and Families’ point–one psychiatrist and nine guys with blue collar jobs.

I’ve been writing about these “most wanted deadbeat” posters for years and the only surprise with Massachusetts is that they did (apparently) find one guy who earns a good living. Most lists are filled with men who do low wage and/or seasonal labor and who have astronomical arrearages they could never hope to pay off. To learn more, see my co-authored column When Beating up on ‘Deadbeat Dads’ is Unfair (Houston Chronicle, 1/7/07).

Interesting too that Bal would cite “emotional support” and say the absent fathers “left holes in the hearts of their children.” There are plenty of children who are harmed emotionally because their fathers are not permitted to play a meaningful role (if any roll) in their lives, butthe Massachusetts Department of Revenue has never concerned itself with that.

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