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Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Fathers’ group sues to stop new child support rules

A nonprofit organization opposing revisions to the Massachusetts child support guidelines that took effect on Jan. 1 appeared before U.S. District Court Judge Douglas P. Woodlock in Boston this morning to ask for a halt to their implementation.
Fathers & Families, a Boston-based group that advocates for “children’s right to the love and care of both parents after separation or divorce,” filed suit against Chief Justice for Administration and Management Robert A. Mulligan and other trial court judges on Dec. 23. That same day, the group filed a request for a preliminary injunction in hopes of preventing judges in Massachusetts from applying the new guidelines to cases involving child support after Jan. 1, 2009.
Ned Holstein, executive director of Fathers & Families, served on the 12-member task force convened by Mulligan in 2006 to rework the guidelines. He told Lawyers Weekly in an interview for a story last November about the new guidelines that he tried in vain to convince the task force that the revisions would prove too expensive for many non-custodial parents. When the task force unveiled the new guidelines in November, Holstein wrote a dissenting report that characterized them as flawed and unfair.
In its lawsuit, Fathers & Families argues that 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.
The group also argues that the new guidelines are “arbitrary and capricious” where the Trial Court did not consider, as statutorily required, any “data on the cost of raising children.”more

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