For Immediate Release

Court Panel to Hear Support Recommendations

SPRINGFIELD, July 23, 2001 – The last of five child support hearings in a federally mandated statewide review process is scheduled for Tuesday, July 24 from 4:00-5:30 p.m. at the Hampden Division Hall of Justice in the Springfield court’s Jury Room.

During the last two weeks, hearings have taken place in Boston, Brockton, Worcester and Lawrence. This is the first time since the inception of the Child Support Guideline in 1985 that the process has been open to the public. Barbara A. Dortch-Okara, the Chief Justice of Administration and Management of the Trial Court is administering the process.

At all of the prior hearings father's rights advocates have complained that the Massachusetts Guideline unfairly burdens them and their children. They assert that the Mass. Guideline fails to address the real needs of children of divorce because it fails to address the needs of children at the non-custodial parent's (overwhelmingly the father) household.

According to several studies, the Mass. Guideline is the highest in the nation, and in several instances fully outside the Normal Distribution curve of other states’ guidelines throughout the United States.

"What hurts fathers, hurts the children eventually ... Driving non-custodial parents into bankruptcy, suicide or poverty is not in the best interest of the children."

- Earl Henry Sholley, Director
Southwest Metro Fatherhood Coalition chapter

At the close of the hearing in Brockton, Judge Edward Ginsburg, presiding over the court panel, said that out of the 240 "angry" people heard at his Probate and Family Court on one morning alone, "…most of them were still angry… " when they left.

"You can't make everybody happy, it's impossible," Ginsburg said.

But Earl Henry Sholley of the Fatherhood Coalition, a statewide non-profit fathers’ advocacy group, criticized those remarks as an example of what's wrong with the system.

"It's not a question of making people happy, it's a question of equity and fairness," Sholley said.

"What hurts fathers hurts the children eventually," he said. "Driving non-custodial parents into bankruptcy, suicide or poverty is not in the best interest of the children."

After the fourth hearing in Lawrence, Judge Ginsburg retorted, "The only thing we will get out of this process is everyone more angry."

Judge Ginsburg was the judge whose custody/visitation order precipitated the notorious Stephen Fagan child kidnapping case over two decades ago. At the time, under temporary orders during the Fagan divorce, Judge Ginsburg transferred sole physical custody to Fagan's wife despite copious evidence presented by Fagan that she was incapable of properly caring for the children due to her alcoholism and emotional problems.

Fatherhood Coalition Produces Recommendations Report

The Fatherhood Coalition produced Recommendations for changes to the state Child Support Guideline with which coalition members testified in favor of at the previous forums, and will do so again at the Springfield hearing.

"The present Guideline doesn’t provide for the best interests of children of divorce because it fails to adequately address the child's needs in the father's household," said Mark Charalambous, the coalition’s Spokesman. "The Guideline is flawed from every angle."

"It's no wonder so many of the state's non-custodial fathers are living in their cars and on the street," Charalambous said. "Many of them are transformed into criminals and often jailed because of their inability to pay these exorbitant child support awards."

The Coalition's Recommendations include a non-custodial parenting time adjustment that takes into account the amount of time that the children spend with at the NCP household. The Recommendations are available online at the Fatherhood Coalition web site:

# # #

For further information, contact:

Mark Charalambous
CPF Spokesman
(978) 840-0268
(978) 632-6600 x303

Mike Franco
CPF Co-Chair & W. Mass Coordinator
Hotline: (413) 295-DADS
(413) 533-6597

CPF - The Fatherhood Coalition

A non-profit, all volunteer organization of men and women advocating for fatherhood since 1994

Return to CPF home page