Sunday, April 26, 2009
Child support as a dissuasive for fathers
In this very moment, in Massachusetts there is a legal battle on the laws regulating child support payments.
On January 1, 2009, Massachusetts instituted new guidelines which incremented child support payments, even though this state already had among the highest guidelines in the United States.
The new guidelines raise substantially child support payments in almost all cases, in many cases increasing them by 20%, but in some cases tripling them. Under these new guidelines, if a recipient and payer earn the same amount of money, the recipient will enjoy a standard of living almost double that of the payer.
In 2001, Fathers & Families, the national organization that advocates for a family court reform that would establish equal rights and responsibilities for fathers and mothers (www.fathersandfamilies.org), won changes in Massachusetts child support laws that lowered payments by 15%. The new guidelines are, in fact, the anti-father forces counter attack to this victory. In response, Fathers & Families filed a lawsuit in federal and state courts. They presented their case in federal court in January and in state court April 13, and are currently awaiting a decision.
This case should be followed closely by all non-custodial parents. While we all joyfully recognize our financial obligations towards our children, we also know very well that child support is widely used by custodial parents (and by the courts that represent them) as a weapon against non-custodial parents. Many times, when fathers think about claiming their rights, they think twice before going to court, because they fear that if they do so they will be punished by incrementing their child support payments. In these cases, the state instates itself as the guardian of gender inequality by implementing child support laws as a fear tactic for preserving the status quo. It can do so because child support laws tend to be imprecise, and in many occasions, unfair. And since the punishment for not paying child support is prison, you can all imagine how many people use this weapon just for the fun of seeing their ex-spouse in jail.
I strongly believe that the current state of child support laws is the fuel that powers the current state of child custody laws. In places like Puerto Rico, where I am from, it has triggered a whole industry based on child support money. The legal battle in Massachusetts is an extremely important battle in the struggle for our children.
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PRO-JOINT CUSTODY ORGANIZATIONS
- Asociación Española Multidisciplinar de Investigación sobre Interferencias Parentales (ASEMIP)
- Canadian Equal Parenting Council
- Center for Parental Responsibility
- Children's Rights Council
- Grandparents Rights Organization
- Joint Custody Association of Norway
- Kids Need 2 Parents
- National Parents Organization
- Padres y Madres en Acción
- Parental Alienation Awareness Organization
- Plataforma por la Custodia Compartida
FATHER'S RIGHTS ORGANIZATIONS
- American Coalition for Fathers and Children
- Amor de Papá
- Asociación Catalana de Padres Separados
- Dads America
- Dads4Kids: Fatherhood Foundation
- Fathers 4 Justice
- Glenn Sacks
- Great Dad
- Illinois Fathers
- Louisiana Dads
- Padres de la Guarda
- The Fatherhood Educational Institute
- The National Fathers Resource Center