“‘There are people who are literally being driven out of their homes and apartments because of their inability to pay,’ said Ned Holstein, founder of the nonprofit Fathers & Families.
“‘We believe in guidelines that will well take care of all the children and also be fair between the adults. These guidelines do not do that.'”
The Massachusetts State House News Service published an article today about Fathers & Families‘ highly-publicized recent challenge to the Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines. In “Advocates for Fathers Sue Trial Court over Child Support Rules,” Kyle Cheney wrote:
A fathers’ group says it is suing the Massachusetts Trial Court for what it says are unconstitutional child support guidelines that are decimating household budgets.
“There are people who are literally being driven out of their homes and apartments because of their inability to pay,” said Ned Holstein, founder of the nonprofit Fathers & Families. “We believe in guidelines that will well take care of all the children and also be fair between the adults. These guidelines do not do that”…
The guideline changes were intended to make the guidelines “simple, clear, and comprehensive,” according to a task force report that drew up the revisions. The 12-member task force was led by Trial Court Chief Justice Paula Carey. Holstein, a member of the panel, dissented from the majority opinion.
Under the new guidelines, wording was changed to enable the courts to account for costs associated with state law mandating health insurance coverage. Income calculations for parents paying child support now also factor in unreported and non-taxed income, as well as military pay and allowances. Income from secondary jobs or overtime pay is no longer automatically included or excluded in child support determinations, instead considered on a case-by-case basis.
“The recommendations include provisions that place greater value and emphasis on the involvement of both parents in the lives of children; consider the increase in health insurance costs and the requirement of mandatory health insurance in Massachusetts; provide greater guidance relative to when a child support order should be modified; and set forth specific deviation factors for deviation from the guidelines,” according to a Trial Court statement in November announcing the new guidelines. “These guidelines will apply to the circumstances of many more families in the Commonwealth”…
In a Wednesday statement on the suit, Fathers and Families describes the new guidelines as “a radical increase in child support implemented at the worst possible moment, as businesses shut doors and layoffs surge.”
According to a recent Fathers & Families press release:
The new guidelines, which affect a quarter million families, were not formulated using the actual costs of raising a child. In some cases, child support orders will triple, even in cases in which the payer is poor and his child is well off. And in high income cases, the child support order for one child could reach nearly $50,000 a year.
The new guidelines will cause almost all child support orders to increase substantially. As a result, middle-class recipients will enjoy a standard of living almost double that of payers who earn about the same amount.
Holstein served on the Massachusetts Task Force that recommended the new guidelines, but authored a minority report dissenting from the main recommendations. Dr. Holstein said, “These increases are radical and unexplained and will harm children. Kids want to live with both parents after divorce, and we all want kids to be well cared for in both homes. But these new guidelines will create a ‘castle versus a hovel” situation for kids. Kids are saddened and depressed when child-support orders force their Dads to live in poverty.’
Learn more about the guidelines by reading Holstein’s minority report here.