Child Support Reform

Dear Senator Brownsberger,

Several weeks ago my brother, Mark Gerber, testified at a public hearing regarding proposed changes to child custody/support legislation. I come to this subject as both a supporter of my brother’s cause and as a former family law attorney. He informed me that you were chairing the hearing and that you were one of the few Senators who seemed to be invested in hearing public comments from people, not just attorneys.

For so many years women have been fighting for the rights to be both caregivers of and financial contributors for their families. But the status quo of the Probate and Family courts do not support this ideal, regardless of what family law attorneys, who defend abused women, are testifying. I have seen too many cases where men are still not considered “parents” but only financial supporters of their children. All parents have rights and responsibilities, and if our courts do not begin to assume that all parents should share those responsibilities 50/50 our courts will continue to hurt children.

I am writing to encourage your support of legislation that assumes 50/50 custody and support, regardless of parental gender, in all cases unless abuse or neglect can be proven. This is not a woman’s issue or a man’s issue, this is a parental issue that needs to be addressed immediately to ensure our courts are working in a family’s best interest. No parent should have to go through the type of divorce my brother did simply because the courts assume that because he a man he isn’t a good parent. Good parents should NEVER have to fight to have equal access to their child. We have a flawed system that can be fixed, and I hope you will continue working on making our courts function in the best interest of families.

Thank you for your time.

14 replies on “Child Support Reform”

  1. Thanks for speaking out, Joyce. This is a very difficult, emotional and truly important issue. I haven’t resolved my approach to it yet, but we are giving it close attention and hope to make some kind of progress on it.

  2. I was pleasantly surprised this morning to see Ned Holstein of National Parents Organization on the cover of the Boston Globe.

    I knew Ned 20 years ago when I advocated for Father’s Rights, much more aggressively but alas much less effectively than Ned, who
    has really made a difference. I have to admit, I was cynical when 9-11 occurred and it became clear the advocates for domestic reform would be voiceless for years to come (I believe my thought was the politicians will all wrap themselves in the flag now so forget it).

    At 57, my family’s divorce is behind us, but the damage is done and I think we would all agree that the courts were completely wrong both both technically and morally, and virtually all of the actions of the courts and the many individual professionals and some
    large medical institutions that profiteer off of divorce were completely wrong.

    The only reason we have anything at all, which is paltry compared to what my children could have had without this bad institution, is because we
    all could no longer comply to the Courts irrational demands so we could prop up their illusion of how our life should be.

    Families like ours should be entitled to some kind of restitution. We’ll probably never see it but someday the real story will be told.

  3. Will,

    Glad the Globe wrote in detail about the hearings on custody reform. I urge you to look at this legislation carefully, and to consider supporting reform of shared parenting law.

    “…Statistics on custody arrangements are not kept by the state‚Äôs probate and family court or the Department of Children and Families”

    I would also urge the legislature to mandate and fund the records-keeping required to allow the collection of annual shared parenting/parent custody statistics.

    Ideally, all public court records should be posted publicly on the web, and for all confidential court records we should have aggregate statistics sufficiently detailed to understand at larger scale what the courts are deciding.

    In 2005, a number of districts in MA passed ballot question supporting shared parenting by 85% of the voters. This indicates that there is vast public support for reform of shared parenting law.

  4. Mass. many years back passed legislation that was touted as progressive. The experiment was a great failure and has hurt certainly men but also children and ultimately women as well. It’s long past the time to stop families encouraging families, the backbone of our society, to break apart because of poor legislation. I hope you will have the courage to pass reforms that are long due. What is current does not work from so many perspectives. Please pay attention to unbiased research from experts in this subject, not lawyers or politicians, but scientists, psychologists- technically people who do not have a vested interest in keeping the status quo.

  5. It’s the abuse and neglect as the only issues that gives me a problem. I know from experience, alas. It’s also possible to have manipulation such that the child’s mind is turned away from the parent … in this case the mother. Manipulation is comment but is not something that is easy to show.

  6. The issue is not about Child Support. It is about Sharing Parenting for the benefit of the children.

    Child support does need reform too. Married parents are not required to pay for college and support their children past 18, why should it be required of divorced parents, usually dads. Why after 18 if required, does support have to go to the former spouse and not the child? It gives all of the power and control till 22 and money is power. Usually the mom and it denigrates the parenting of a parent, usually the father. So if we must have child support past 18, let the parent paying the support pay it directly to the child whom it is meant for.

  7. Divorce was the worst thing, by far, that I have ever gone through.

    I was shocked at how one sided court was.

  8. I could not agree more deeply with Ms. Garber’s comments. After a divorce that was wretched in so many ways, my brother – who has always worked3 jobs while his ex-wife attended soccer games – ended up living in his van for a few years so he could pay both child support AND alimony. my brother is in slightly better shape these days, and, because she has a college degree (his 3 jobs also paid off her school loan), she has s decent job that pays more than his, yet he’s STILL PAYING alimony and child support! He sees his children every day – thank God they didn’t have that problem — but, financially, it ruined him.
    Women and men have worked hard to achieve some equality. Yet, the divorce laws still have women pregnant, in the kitchen and unable to support themselves. Only a dead beat Dad doesn’t pay to support his children. Tha majority of men love and care for their children, but the archaic laws — and Massachusetts is well-known in the country as having the most unfair divorce laws – treat all fathers like dead beat Dads. If possible, Dads should have full and easy access to their children. They shouldn’t always be the ones who have to leave the house (again, we’re assuming women can’t afford another place to live, when some make more money than the men). It’s not good for children to see their Dads in such dire financial straights: how is this helpful to anyone?
    Senator, the divorce laws in Massachusetts are a disgrace. Please do whatever you can to make them more fair and reasonable. Please let me know of any meetings I might attend or any other action I may take to stay involved with this important issue.
    Thank you for realizing the seriousness of this, and for taking it on.

  9. Dear Senator Will Brownsberger, When I saw this news, I do have my issues that needs to be forward to you in regard the Probate Court abused of me (who has been certifer by the State as best father)also is the primary care for the minor child since child age 5 months old, with President Mr. Obama and deceased of Senator, Ted Kennedy help so the child can instantly remove from his original birth place of China, My experience was after I made request from you and your send me to Senator Jason Lewis, because my self is experienced the free legal system for the woman as only in this State, and that Chinese woman once made entry to this country, their goal is seek to government benefit and child support, and they knew the system to set up an claim in probate court to accuse the man because they knew the law only protect the woman, therefore, I would like to see if I can have appointment to meet with you and give the brief of my experience and the probate judge acting as well the true evidence in the court and other officers, which all become direct related to child custody and child support issue and I believe that does need to make the change more fairly to the responses parents or interest sharing together to raise the child, include but not limit to right guide line for child support and calculation, in addition, also would be a big impact to the parents that is receiving the Disability benefit from Federal Government but also being order to pay the child support by the court, with those, I believe the law does need to make change, I has mentioned this to The Senator Lewis office to his assistant Ms. Allison ( who provide me some help issues) and now I saw this issue, I must to make the information to have it changes at this time, please keep me in mind and send all information to me asap. Thank You>
    Wen Chiang, e-mail: wc7858@gmail.com

  10. Reform should include ways to minimize the legal expenses for all parties. My family has minor children in the CT system so I don’t know the specifics about MA law. However I know that utilizing the courts to try to keep parties focused on the arrangements costs entirely too much money for all parties. Many parents can not afford representation to protect their children’s rights and interests. And in my experience parties without representation are at a significant disadvantage.

  11. Dear Senator Brownsberger,

    SB834_child centered family law needs to pass now,as it only applies to parents and children of divorce. children of massachusetts deserve shared access to both parents.
    although my child was born “out of” wed-lock and never married, i still pursue this passion.
    Please vote Yes !.

  12. I believe that dads should be equal to women if women want to be equal to men. If a dad gets custody of a child, the mom should also provide monetary support just as men are required.
    When we were divorced in the early 70’s, I got custody of my son when he was two years old but had to pay alimony to my ex.
    When I discovered she was working and supporting herself, I got the alimony stopped as I was providing full support of myself and my son.
    Things should be equal all around.

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