Friday, January 2, 2009

Fathers' group sues to block Mass child support guidelines

Fathers & Families, a Massachusetts advocacy group, filed suit in Federal District Court on Dec. 31 to block new child-support guidelines in Massachusetts.

The group says the new guidelines are not based on data on the costs of raising children and are therefore "arbitrary and capricious."

Fathers & Families says the new guidelines will boost child support payments substantially. Some might argue that such a boost is long overdue; Fathers & Families argues that the payments will be far too high under the proposed guidelines. I can't sort the arguments out here, but clearly one would think such guidelines ought to be based on data, not on some theoretical notion that payments are currently too low.

The executive director of Fathers & Families, Dr. Ned Holstein, served on the task force that devised the new guidelines, and he filed a tough minority report opposing the task force's conclusions.

Here's Holstein, from a post on the Fathers & Families website: “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.’”

The bottom line, says Holstein, is that 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."

Read the legal complaint. Links to the new guidelines and the task force's majority report are here.

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