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Child Support Guidelines / NY Laws & Your FEEDBACK

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Date: Tue Apr 30 2002 - 11:17:09 EDT

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Good People & People of Faith,

This message contains information on:
1. Thoughtful Child Support Decision - worth reading.
2. Shared Parenting Bills in New York - please call!
3. Your FEEDBACK - Perspective on a Warm Relationship with your Child.

1. Thoughtful Child Support Decision - worth reading.
As a Group, we don't normally make an issue of "child support", and
try to keep our emphasis on our rights to be an equal parent. The
following was submitted by Greg Romeo ( -- it is the
complete decision from a George Judge who ruled that the state's Child
Supports guidelines were unconstitutional. It makes a lot of "sense",
and interestingly enough, it came in a case in which a non custodial
mother was appealing a support ruling.  The Judge cites numerous cases
in his decision and this may supply a valuable resource to
others. Text follows, complete decision also at:


Special Assistant Attorney General
CYNTHIA M. SWEAT                                          Plaintiff


SAMUEL SWEAT, SR.                                         Defendants

*     CIVIL ACTION NO. 2000 C 127


WHEREAS, Defendant Michelle Sweat filed a Motion to Declare Georgia's Child
Guidelines Unconstitutional (hereinafter, the "Challenge"), and

WHEREAS, sworn testimony, documentary evidence and both oral and
written argument of counsel has been presented thereon and duly
considered by this Court,

NOW, THEREFORE, this Court hereby declares the child support
guidelines codified in section 19-6-15, O.C.G.A. (hereinafter, the
"Guidelines") to be null and void as the Guidelines violate numerous
provisions of the Constitutions of both the United States and the
State of Georgia for the reasons set forth below.


The Case Sub Judice

In the case now before this court, the "family" consists of the
father, Samuel Ezell Sweat, Sr., who is the custodial parent ("CP"),
the mother, Michelle Lynn Sweat, who is the noncustodial parent
("NCP"), and three minor children, to-wit: .Cynthia Marie Sweat, date
of birth March 7, 1985; Samuel E. Sweat, Jr., date of birth October
11, 1990; and Robin K. Sweat, date of birth March 30, 1983. The
parents were married July 16, 1984. They separated September 20,
1998. They were divorced in Civil Action Number 98-D-37 by this court
on November 12, 1998, the Hon. Dane Perkins presiding. The parties had
agreed that the father would have custody of the minor children, the
mother would have visitation rights, and she would not be obligated to
pay child support. The parties' agreement was made the judgment of the
court on November 12, 1998. On or about July 14, 2000, Monica Houseal,
an agent with Child Support Enforcement ("Agency") in Nashville,
Georgia, forwarded a document to the NCP advising her that the agency
had received a written request for "possible modification", and
requesting she furnish certain financial information to the
agency. NCP responded by completing the questionnaire sent to her. The
only "special Circumstance" she indicated was the ages of the
children. Agent Houseal prepared a document entitled "Agency
Recommendation". This document found that the father's gross monthly
income was $2,647.50, and that the mother's gross monthly income was
$1,585.95.  Subsequently, the mother's monthly gross income has risen
to $1,862. Her expenses totaled $2,127.00 at that time. Houseal found
no "special circumstances" to exist, and recommended the mother pay
child support for three children based on the child support guidelines
which provide a range of 25% to 32% for three children. Her
recommendation was further that the NCP pay between $132.16 and
$169.17 per child per month as support and that she provide accident
and sickness insurance if it was available to her " . .  . at a
reasonable cost not to exceed 5% of NCP gross income". There was no
recommendation that the mother get credit for her medical insurance
payment for the children against the child support she was recommended
to pay, nor was there a recommendation that any "co-payments" be paid
by the CP or at least that he share such expenses. Agent Houseal
recommended to this Court, less than two years after approving the
parties' agreement as stated above, to order the mother to pay her
former husband child support in the amount of $150.67 per child, which
is exactly midway between the percentages, but rounded up to
sixty-seven cents rather than leave it at sixty-six. Ms. Sweat was
sought to be obligated to pay $452.01 in child support and up to
$79.29 per month for insurance, or a total of $531.30 out of her
before taxes income. Subsequent to the initiation of this action,
Ms. Sweat filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy protection with payments to
the Chapter 13 Trustee being set at $295.00 per month. Agent Houseal
stated that this factor was not considered when making a
recommendation for Ms. Sweat's child support obligation. After
initiation of this action, the Challenge was filed.


The only evidence before this Court regarding the impact of the
Guidelines on any cognizable group is the study of custody awards in
14 south Georgia counties between 1995-97 conducted by Kent Earhardt,
J.D., Ph.D., which found that, in 82.2% of contested cases, custody
was awarded to the mother.  It follows, therefore, that a support
obligation under the Guidelines was imposed on the fathers in those
cases. Ehlers v. Ehlers, 264 Ga. 668 (1994).  There has been no
credible challenge to the methodology or the result of the Earnhardt
study. Therefore, this Court finds that men are adversely impacted by
the Guidelines as applied to a grossly disproportionate degree, which
constitutes an impermissibly discriminatory effect on a group based
upon their gender.

Having found an impermissible impact based on gender, the standard of
scrutiny to be applied is the intermediate test, i.e., are the
Guidelines substantially related to an important governmental
objective? Clark v.  Jeter, 486 U.S. 456, 108 S. Ct. 1910, 1914

All parties concede that providing a rational basis for the
calculation of the child support obligation of both parents as set
forth in section 19-7-2, O.C.G.A. is a legitimate governmental
purpose. The question is whether it is of such importance as to
justify the vehicle chosen by the legislature, i.e., the Guidelines?
Because of the myriad of constitutional flaws in the Guidelines set
forth below, this Court finds that the State of Georgia has not
satisfied this test.

Further, if this Court were only to apply the lowest standard of
scrutiny, i.e., whether the Guidelines bore a rational relationship to
a legitimate government purpose, the Guidelines would still fail.


This Court finds that the Guidelines as applied to Defendant Michelle
Sweat in this case as well as every other parent in this State who is
not granted custody of his or her child is harmful and that the harm
flowing from the constitutional flaws in the Guidelines is suffered
each and every time a payment calculated thereunder is due.


Inasmuch as the essential nature of the Guidelines is to allocate
economic and financial burdens and benefits, their validity must be
determined primarily, if not exclusively, on an economic analysis.

The purpose of the Guidelines is to conform to the federal mandate
found in 42 U.S.C.A. section 651, et seq. and 45 CFR sections 302.55
and 302.56, that govern the receipt of federal funds by states under
the Social Security Act.  The regulations cited require an
economically rational form of guideline for apportioning child "costs"
between parents obligated to support the children in question with
"appropriate" support awards. Therefore, the intended purpose of
Georgia's child support guidelines is to determine an economically
appropriate child support award. This Court finds that the Guidelines
fail to do so.

There having been no evidence, credible or otherwise, to contradict
the matters presented therein, this Court adopts as part of its
findings of fact the Economic Exhibit of R. Mark Rogers (hereinafter,
the "Economic Exhibit") as the cornerstone for its finding that the
Guidelines are economically unsound. A copy of the Economic Exhibit is
attached hereto and incorporated herein by this reference. Certain
matters set forth in the Economic Exhibit and articulated in greater
detail in the hearings before this Court bear highlighting, though
this is not intended to overlook the importance of other economic



The Guidelines adopted by Georgia as originally designed by the
underlying economic study were intended only for welfare situations -
the current use for all situations was not the intended purpose. The
underlying facts of the presumptions - their application only in
welfare situations and with constraints such as a low ceiling award
limited in size to the amount of the welfare payment to the custodial
parent - no longer exist. The presumptive percentages were based only
on data for low-income cases and were extended without the benefit of
data for non-welfare cases. In the current case, the percentages are
applied beyond the amount needed for recovery of any welfare payment
to the custodial parent that might have been made.


Georgia's presumptive awards rise as a share of obligor after-tax
income. No child cost studies show child costs rising as a share of
after-tax income.  All child cost studies show child costs declining
as a share of after-tax income. The state has presented no evidence
that child costs rise as a percantage of household net
income. Georgia's Guidelines are arbitrary and are not rational since
there is no economic foundation for presumptive awards that rise as a
share of household net income. In the current case, the presumptive
percentage results in a significantly higher obligation than one based
on actual child costs that decline as a share of net income.


There are no baseline components to the Guidelines. It is not clear
what is being rebutted, therefore they are arbitrary and a due process


The Guidelines do not take into account the large tax-related child
cost offsets the custodial parent receives. Custodial parents
typically receive $200 to $350 per month in extra after-tax income
just for having custody.  These child-related tax benefits are head of
household status, child exemptions, child tax credits, child care
credits, and earned income credits. Both parents have an equal duty of
support for the costs attributable to the children. Both parents are
equally entitled to the cost offsets attributable to the same children
but in proportion to their obligation. Not sharing the child-related
tax benefits violates equal protection. Not sharing the tax benefits
with both parents is an extraordinary benefit for the custodial parent
and an extraordinary burden for the non-custodial parent. In this
case, Mr. Sweat, the custodial parent, receives approximately $300 per
month in extra after-tax income from having custody and as a result of
current income tax law. This is a cost offset benefit that Ms. Sweat
is denied by the Guidelines. The original study by Jacques van der
Gaag upon which the Guidelines were based was done in 1982 when the
parent that contributed the most support for the children was given
rights to claim the tax exemptions of the child. The original study
also was limited to low-income households with incomes averaging
$12,000 in 1982 dollars, or $21,426 in year 2000 dollars.


The presumptive award results in the custodial parent receiving a huge
financial windfall - or profit - in excess of child costs. For typical
income situations, the custodial parent ends up with a higher standard
of living than the non-custodial parent - even when the non-custodial
parent earns significantly more than the custodial parent. This is an
extraordinary benefit for the custodial parent and an extraordinary
burden for the obligor. In the current case, expert testimony has
shown that the custodial parent's profit (presumptive award less an
economics based award) is substantial.


The Georgia presumptive award does not allocate the child support
burden according to the parents' relative ability to pay. This is
because the obligor has a rising after-tax percentage of income paid
to the custodial parent for child support. These percentages exceed
actual child costs and the custodial parent uses the profit as an
offset to the custodial parent's implied contribution to child
costs. Additionally, the custodial parent receives substantial
child-related tax benefits that the non-custodial parent does not
receive. The outcome is that the custodial parent does not contribute
to child costs at the same rate as the non-custodial parent and,
often, not at all.


Evidence presented based on presumptive after-tax, after-child support
awards and the standard of living benchmark of the U.S. government's
poverty thresholds show that the Guideline presumptive awards include
such large amounts of hidden alimony (presumptive award less an
economics based award) that a non-custodial parent is unable to
provide for a child when in the non-custodial parent's care to the
same extent as in the custodial parent's household. Presumptive awards
have been shown to typically exceed total actual costs according to
the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This violates equal protection
standards for both the child and the non-custodial parent.  Such
excessive child support awards are not in the best interest of the
child because the non-custodial parent is not able to sufficiently
provide for the children while in the non-custodial parent's care. In
the current case, the presumptive award leaves the non-custodial
parent in poverty while the custodial parent enjoys a notably higher
standard of living.


The Guidelines are biased toward including hidden alimony for the
custodial parent even when the custodial parent earns substantially
higher gross income than the non-custodial parent. The Guidelines do
not meet standards of fairness even for alimony. If the Guidelines
did, there would be a narrowing of the standard of living gap for the
non-custodial parent when the custodial parent has a higher gross
income. Instead, the Guidelines boost the standard of living of the
custodial parent relative to non-custodial parent in both
circumstances - when the custodial parent earns either substantially
less or substantially more than the non-custodial parent. The
Guidelines bear no relationship to the standards for child support of
requiring each parent to have an equal duty in supporting the child.


The use of a range of percentages allows substantial opportunity for
similarly situated individuals to receive dissimilar treatment. That
is, different obligors with the same income can end up with
presumptive obligations that differ by hundreds of dollars per
month. The difference between upper and lower bound presumptive awards
is substantial. The upper bound presumption is higher than the lower
bound presumption by as much as 35 percent. The guidelines give no
guidance on how to choose the presumption within the ranges, resulting
in arbitrary decisions. Georgia is the only state to use a range of
presumptive percentages. This conflicts with the intent of 45 CFR
302.56 that intends the presumptive formula result in a single
presumptive figure for a given case in order to reduce uncertainty of
what the presumptive award is. For the current case, the presumptive
award range varies by $130 (upper bound award less lower bound
award). This is seven percent of the obligor's gross income - a
substantial variation in the presumptive award.


The presumptive award for low-income obligors (for example, minimum
wage workers) pushes low-income obligors below the poverty level. A
presumptive award that leaves the obligor with less income than needed
for basic living needs creates an extraordinary burden for the obligor
and, potentially, an additional burden on taxpayers. This violates
equal protection. This is contrary both to public policy and common


The Guidelines do not take into account custodial parent income. The
presumptive child support award does not vary with family income -
only obligor income. This is not economically rational and violates
equal protection. The custodial parent is not held to the same
standard for contributing to child costs. In most cases, the custodial
parent's obligation of support ends up being largely or entirely paid
by the non-custodial parent. In the current case, the child support
case worker for the case gave testimony specifically stating that the
custodial parent's income had no bearing on the recommended
award. This case worker stated there is no formula in their official
procedures by which case workers can determine how the custodial
parent's income affects the presumptive award.


Child costs of only the custodial parent are covered by the
Guidelines.  Similar costs incurred when the child is with the
non-custodial parent do not receive similar consideration. Yet,
parents are similarly situated when child costs are incurred by either
parent. Each parent has an equal duty to provide financially for the
children when in the care of the other parent.  The Guidelines were
based on welfare situations in which the obligor parent was absent,
did not require the custodial parent to support the children
financially (the custodial parent did not work and had no earned
income), did not take into account the custodial parent receiving
large child-related tax benefits, and did not take into account the
obligor paying substantial income taxes (with the obligor outside the
assumed very low income level).  However, in actual practice,
typically the non-custodial parent is not absent and incurs
substantial child costs that the guidelines do not require the
custodial parent to contribute. This violates equal protection and
does not meet the financial needs of the children when they are in the
care of the non-custodial parent. In the current case, the obligor
provides housing, food, clothing, entertainment and other needs for
the children when in her care. The Guidelines do not require that the
custodial parent share in the costs of the non-custodial parent.


Medical insurance costs are not treated the same for all obligors. The
presumptive award includes typical medical expenses. The Guidelines
allow the court to either treat an obligor's payment of the children's
medical insurance as an add-on or as a credit toward the presumptive
award. This dissimilar treatment violates equal
protection. Additionally, there is different treatment for obligors
depending on whether insurance is available through
employers. Obligors with medical insurance coverage available through
employers are held to a higher standard than those without
availability of medical insurance through employers. For the current
case, the obligor pays approximately $70 dollars each month to provide
health insurance for the children. The Guidelines allow the court to
either subtract this $70 as a credit for the obligor against a
presumptive cash award or to add $70 to the presumptive cash award as
an add-on. The difference between these alternatives is $140 per month
for the obligor.


The Guideline criteria for deviation do not give any guidance on how
to apply the deviations in a consistent manner. This is
unconstitutionally vague and generally results in no deviations in
most cases - even when the circumstances to deviate exist.


The Guidelines are arbitrary and bear no relationship to the intended
federal purpose of determining an economically appropriate child
support award. The Guidelines have no rational relationship to child
cost data.  Among other considerations, first of all, the Guidelines
were implemented for all cases (beyond just welfare cases) without the
benefit of any supporting economic data. Additionally, the presumptive
awards rise as a share of net income - which conflicts with all child
costs studies. The Guidelines do not take into account where the
actual child costs are incurred - that is, which parent incurs what
costs. The Guidelines do not take into account child costs net of tax
benefit offsets.


The Guidelines bear no relationship to the constitutional standards
for child support of requiring each parent to have an equal duty in
supporting the child.


Which parent is the obligor and which is the obligee should be
determined only after examination of the relevant factors - not
before. The financial circumstances should determine which parent is
obligor. The Guidelines arbitrarily presume that the obligor is always
the non-custodial parent when the financial circumstances may indicate
just the opposite. Importantly, mere classification before-hand of the
obligor does not provide sufficient information to determine the
economically appropriate award. The classifications of obligor and
obligee are not rationally related to the intended purpose of the
Guidelines of determining the economically appropriate award.


The Guidelines interfere with a non-custodial parent's constitutional
right to raise one's children without "unnecessary" government
interference. The Guidelines are so excessive as to force
non-custodial parents to frequently work extra jobs for basic needs -
detracting from parenting without state justification. Low-income
obligors are frequently forced to work in a cash economy to survive as
a result of child support obligations that if paid push the obligor
below the poverty level. This is the result of automatic withholding
of child support with payroll jobs and use of guidelines that
presumptively push minimum wage obligors below the poverty level. As
these workers are forced to "disappear" into unofficial society, these
obligors are deprived of the constitutional right to raise their
children without unnecessary government intrusion. In fact, any
government mandate beyond basic child costs interferes with this right
to privacy as occurs with the current guidelines.

For the current case, the presumptive award pushes Ms. Sweat, the
obligor, to just above the poverty level and below the poverty level
if she pays court ordered bankruptcy payments. This is an
extraordinary burden imposed on the obligor by the Guidelines.


In the present case, the earnings of the obligee, Samuel Sweat,
significantly exceed those of the obligor. Nonetheless, the guidelines
require the obligor, Michelle Sweat, to pay out a significant amount
of her before tax income to the obligee, to whom this money will be
tax free. The income of the obligee will be considerably increased,
and he will have the tax advantages attendant to being a custodial
parent. Additionally, the obligee will have the additional benefit of
his new spouse's earnings. In the meantime, the obligor's net earnings
will probably put her at or below the poverty line, and will in any
event leave her with less than half of her earnings to live on. This
scheme thus constitutes a windfall to the obligee and financial
disaster to the obligor.

Thus, any calculation of a support award under the Guidelines would be
so far removed from any economically rational and appropriate award
that it constitutes a gross error well beyond any "mere imprecision."



This Court hereby incorporates by this reference the authorities cited
in the Challenge as well as the Findings of Fact set forth above. As
with certain of the matters contained in the Economic Exhibits, some
highlights are in order.

Due Process

The United States' Constitution provides that no state may "deprive
any person of life, liberty or property without due process of law."
U.S.  Constitution, Am. 5, Am. 14, section 1. The Constitution of the
State of Georgia contains an almost identical guarantee at Ga. Const.,
Art. I, section I, paragraph 1. Protection from arbitrary state action
is the very essence of substantive due process. Slochower v. Bd. of
Higher Educ. of the City of New York, 350 U.S. 551, 76 S. Ct. 637

Given the very nature and purpose of the Guidelines, this Court finds
that there is an overriding governmental pecuniary purpose
involved. D.H.R. v.  Ofutt, 217 Ga. App. 823 at 825 (1995).

This Court finds that the Guidelines were hastily enacted and left
unchanged without sufficient examination of relevant economic data and
for those reasons as well as the gross deviation from all child cost
studies as noted previously, finds them to be arbitrary and
capricious. See, Sierra Club v.  Martin, 168 F. 3d 1 (11th Cir.,

With all due respect to the members of the Governor's Commissions on
Child Support (hereinafter, the "Commission") in both 1998 and 2001,
it is clear that only one member in 1998, Mr. Mark Rogers, and none in
2001 were properly qualified by education, background and experience
to accurately assess the economic and financial intricacies of the
Guidelines. This, too, the Court finds to be indicative of arbitrary
state action.

This Court also finds that Mr. Rogers, as well as other economists
well versed in child support matters, testified in 1998 as to the many
flaws in the Guidelines. Mr. Rogers again testified before the
Commission in 2001. In addition, this Court takes Judicial notice
pursuant to section 24-1-4, O.C.G.A. and, further, has heard evidence
of the publication of an article in the October 2000 issue of the
Georgia Bar Journal discussing at some length the equal protection and
due process violations with which the Guidelines are rife. William
C. Akins, Why Georgia's Child Support Guidelines are
Unconstitutional. Thus, the State of Georgia can no longer contend
that the Guidelines remain in place out of "official ignorance."  This
Court finds that this constitutes further proof of arbitrariness on
the part of the State and, if left in place, may rise to a volitional
violation of the constitutional protections afforded the citizens of
this State.

In declaring that the Guidelines violate the aforesaid substantive due
process guarantees, this Court takes guidance from the very state upon whose
guidelines Georgia's are purportedly based. In Parrett v. Parrett, 146 Wis.
2d 830 at 842, 432 NW 2d 664 (6) (1988, the Court of Appeals of Wisconsin),
a case that did not raise constitutional issues, found that, particularly in
higher income situations, their guidelines, like Georgia's, would "result in
a figure so far beyond the child's needs as to be irrational." This is the
very sort of arbitrary result the due process clauses are designed to
prevent. Manley v. Georgia, 279 U.S. 1, 49 S. Ct. 215 (1929). Additionally,
the presumption is unconstitutional because the underlying facts (the
Guidelines application only in welfare cases for recovery of only up to the
welfare payment to the custodial parent) no longer exist. Leary v. United
States, 395 U.S. 6 at 32-37 (1969).

Equal Protection

The United States' Constitution provides that no state may "deny to
any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."
U.S.  Const., Am. XIV, section 1. Ga. Const., Art. I, section I,
paragraph 2 provides essentially the same protection.

The egregiously different burdens and benefits placed on persons
similarly situated but for the award of custody, i.e., parents with
the obligation to support their child(ren) and the same means for
doing so as when they were married, has been explained at length
above. This Court finds that such disparate treatment violates the
guarantees of equal protection cited above.  Jones v. Helms, 452
U.S. 412, 101 S. Ct. 2434 (4,5) (1981), South Central Bell Telephone
Co. v. Alabama, 526 U.S. 160, 119 S. Ct. 1180 (1999), Romer v. Evans,
517 U.S. 620, 116 S. Ct. 1620 (1996) and Simpson v. State, 218 Ga.
337 at 339 (1962). The Guidelines do not result in awards based on the
constitutionally sound principles of equal duty and proportional
obligation (proportional to available financial resources such as each
parent's income). See Smith v. Smith, 626 P 2d 342, 345-348 (Oregon,
1980); Meltzer v. Witsberger, 480 A.2d 991 (Pa. 1984); and Conway
v. Dana, 318 A.2d 324 (Pa. 1985).

Right to Privacy

While the source of the right to privacy has been held to originate in
varying constitutional provisions, it has been long recognized to
apply to "family" concerns whether the family exists within the
confines of marriage or not. Eisenstadt v. Baird, 405 U.S. 438, 92
S. Ct. 1029 (8) (1972), Roe v.  Wade, 410 U.S. 113, 93 S. Ct. 705 at
726-28 (1973).

This Court finds that, by requiring the non-custodial parent to pay an
amount in excess of those required to meet the child's basic needs, as
the economic analysis has shown, the Guidelines impermissibly
interfere with parental decisions regarding financial expenditures on
children. Troxel v.  Granville, 530 U.S. 57, 120 S. Ct. 2054 (2000)
and 147 L. Ed. 2d 49 (U. S.  2000); Moylan v. Moylan, 384 NW 2d 859 at
866 (Minn., 1986).

Unconstitutional Taking of Property

Georgia's guidelines as set out in OCGA Sec. 19-6-15 (b) are
unconstitutional per se and as applied to Michelle Sweat in that by
reducing her to poverty status she is thereby denied access to the
courts in violation of the Constitution of 1983, Art. 1, Sec. 1,
Par. XII which reads, "No person shall be deprived of the right to
prosecute or defend, either in person or by an attorney, that person's
own cause in any of the courts of this State." In this case Ms. Sweat
has filed a separate motion for recordation of these proceedings;
however, as a result of the confiscatory nature of the guidelines she
will be unable to afford to pay the cost of transcribing the
proceedings, and as a result, may be denied her right to appeal. It is
therefore ordered that the State provide Michelle Sweat with a
transcript at no cost to Michelle Sweat in the event of an appeal.

Georgia's guidelines are also unconstitutional per se and as applied
in that they constitute an illegal taking in violation of the
Constitution of Georgia of 1983, Art.1, Sec. 111, Par.1, because the
plaintiff is seeking to impose an award under the Guidelines against
Ms. Sweat for the purpose of the state continuing to receive federal
funds under 45 CFR 302.56 and related federal code. This constitutes a
public taking for a public purpose.  See also DHR v. Ofutt above.

Recent Supporting Foreign Opinion

One issue of equal protection is taking into account all of an
obligor's dependents - not just those involved in the instant case. On
January 29, 2002, a Tennessee Court of Appeals issued an opinion that
Tennessee's child support guidelines not having a presumptive formula
for ensuring that all of an obligor's dependents received support on
an equal basis violated equal protection rights and is
unconstitutional. See Dee Ann Curtis Gallaher v.  Curtis J. Elam, In
the Court of Appeals of Tennessee at Knoxville, July 11, 2001 Session,
Appeal from the Juvenile Court for Knox County, No. B-3443, filed
January 29, 2002, No. E2000-02719-COA-R3-CV. Georgia's Guidelines do
not have a presumptive formula for dependents of an obligor not in the
instant case to ensure their equal support. Any formula for deviation
on this matter that Georgia DHR may have is not presumptive, is not
statutory, and is not applied statewide in all cases in which an
obligor has additional dependents other than those in the instant
case. For the reasons stated in Dee Ann Curtis Gallaher v. Curtis
J. Elam, Georgia's Guidelines without such presumptive formula
likewise violate equal protection requirements as related to multiple
family situations and are unconstitutional.

The Constitutionally Acceptable Child Support Standard

This Court finds, as a matter of law, that a constitutionally sound standard
for the determination of child support guidelines can readily be determined.

First, it must acknowledge the principle codified in section 19-7-2,
O.C.G.A., that both parents are obliged to support their children in
accordance with their relative means to do so. The Supreme Court of
the United States has provided ample reason to conclude that any
guideline discriminating against either parent would be found
constitutionally defective. See, for example, Orr v. Orr, 440 U.S. 268
(1979), Mississippi University for Women v. Hogan, 458 U.S. 718 (1982)
and the authorities cited in the equal protection section above. The
decisions of our sister States in holding unconstitutional statutory
presumptions that custody of children of "tender years" should be
awarded to the mother is also persuasive. State ex rel. Watts
v. Watts, 350 N.Y.S. 2d 285 (N.Y. City Fam. Ct., 1973), Commonwealth
ex rel. Spriggs v. Carlson, 368 Atl. 2d 635 (Pa., 1977).  Procreation
is both a joint act and a joint responsibility.

Secondly, it must conform to long-acknowledged limitations on
government intrusion into the rights of families articulated in Pierce
v. Society of Sisters, 268 U.S. 510 (1925), Wisconsin v. Yoder, 406
U.S. 205 (1972) and the authorities cited in the section on the right
to privacy, above. That is, the government's interest in family
expenditures on children, whether that family exists before or after
the dissolution of marriage, or even in the absence of marriage, is
limited to insuring that the children's basic needs are met. Not
extravagances, not luxuries, but needs. Once that occurs, government
intrusion must cease. Moylan v. Moylan, above.

The third and final criteria is that the means chosen for the purpose
of determining need and allocating each parent's respective
responsibility in meeting that need, whether in the form of a
presumptive guideline or otherwise, must be based on a rational
relationship between the predicate facts and the conclusion(s)
directed. Leary v. U.S., Western & A.R.R. v.  Henderson, above.

This standard is not dissimilar to the former needs vs. ability to pay
standard, but with the additional criteria that the needs are not
excessive, the ability to pay is that of both parents and that the
method of calculation is economically rational.

As explained above, the Guidelines fail miserably in meeting these


In light of the Georgia child support guidelines being
unconstitutional, Michelle Sweat shall not be required to pay Samuel
E. Sweat any child support based upon her gross income of $1,862 per
month, the father's gross income of $2,647.50 per month, and the
mother having parenting time with the children at least 20 percent of
the time. The mother shall, however, continue to provide health
insurance for the children which currently costs approximately $70 per
month for so long as it is available through her employer. The mother
shall also pay 14.3 percent of any unreimbursed medical expenses of
the children that exceed $250 per year. This percentage is based on
her share of combined income above self-support needs.

For the foregoing reasons, the Defendant's Motion to Declare Georgia's
Child Support Guidelines Unconstitutional is hereby GRANTED.

SO ORDERED this _25th___ day of __February_, 2002,

Judge of Superior Court
Alapaha Judicial Circuit
State of Georgia

2. Shared Parenting Bills in New York - please call!
This was forwarded to us by Gene Colosimo (
From: "save_r_kids" <>

If you or your family and friends live in NY, there are pending shared
parenting bills THAT NEED PUBLIC SUPPORT!!!

Take 5 minutes to call your local Assembly Member (bill A3673) and
your State Senator (bill S2818).  They are simple common sense bills
that would create a legal presumption of what we already
know...children need both parents!!!

The Legislature web sites will help you find your reps and email them
or get their local phone numbers: or these
addresses and other info on issues related to shared parenting and
tons of interesting links are available at the web site below.  Note:
while it is a Yahoo Group it is mostly a web site and is not a
substitute for this discussion group. If you want ongoing updates on
specific NY state legislation or just want to provide "moral
support" helping us get a higher membership number that would be

Thanks and good luck to all.

3. Your FEEDBACK - Perspective on a Warm Relationship with your Child.
We've received the following feedback on John Murtari's recent message
(http://www.AKidsRight.Org/warm.htm). Their comments prefaced by ">"

---- From Michelle Laflamme (

> I think your a great father, thing about what you said
> bothered me....

~~~>YOUR FORMER SPOUSE - Don't make your child pass messages between you.
Don't use them to "spy" on what is going on in their other home.
Don't criticize their other parent.  Don't ever ask them to choose
between you. You see, these are easy and there aren't any exceptions.
Don't make your child feel uncomfortable about the other parent.
Don't diminish the worth of the other parent.

Yes, I tell Dom I wish I could be with him much, much more.  When he
asks why I can't, I tell him because mommy doesn't want you to.  When
he asks why, I tell him I really don't know (and I don't), but
sometimes when people don't love each other any more, these kinds of
things happen.

> You say not to make the child uncomfortable about the other
> parent....but then when Dom asks you why you don't see each other
> more, you tell him "because Mommy doesn't want you too"....  > I
> think that is going to create much resentment in your son, towards
> his own Mother...  Not a good idea.... 

> A better explanation would be to enforce your love for him, AND that
> of his Mother's....and that no matter where either of you is
> physically located, your love will never change.  He doesn't need to
> know that his Mommy forbids you spending more time together-- trust
> me, this will have psychological ramifications that you may not wish
> to burden your son with.  Besides, it goes against what you suggest
> about the former spouse.

> Along these lines...."Mommy's life is there, and Daddy's life is
> here--that isn't your fault Dom, and no matter what, we both love
> you and are here for you always......"  period.  This gives him the
> security he needs that both his parent's have his best interest at
> heart--even if it appears that one may not...with the exception of
> those who use verbal, emotional or physical abuse--most parent's do
> have their kid's best interests at heart--even when the EX may not
> believe it is so.......  Anyhow, I still think you're a good
> Dad--based on what you have written here--with the exception of the
> comment above about your son's Mother.  

--- From Carl Tarantino (

>  John, this hits home so much since I have no relationship with any
> of my three children who live 330 miles away and do not want to be
> with me.  I continue to demonstrate my love for them every
> opportunity I have, and have faith and hope that someday there will
> be a sign that our relationship has been restored.  I am very happy
> about your situation with your son and pray for your continued
> happiness with your son.  Take care and God bless. Carl from
> Richmond, VA

--- From Shey (

> This is a wonderful story, very sweet and very sad at times.  I know
> many dads can relate to your situation.  I think your future outcome
> will be much brighter.  Unfortunately it would probably have had a
> similar and in some ways worse outcome if you'd had a daughter
> though. Just ask my husband.  Odds are he will never see his
> daughter again and no one can truly know how hard he's tried.  Girls
> just have a different closeness with their mothers than their dads,
> as boys have a different closeness with their dads than they do with
> their mothers.  When girls are brainwashed it's a whole different
> ballgame.  A father/daughter relationship will so rarely, rarely
> happen when the girl is with a mother that brainwashes and alienates
> her from him.  There is virtually no way back for them.  I'm afraid
> it will remain this way until father's get off their rearends quit
> selling their souls to the intimidations of these women and declare
> war on the women who do these heinous things to their children and
> ex husbands get to congress in massive numbers and fight back to
> gain the same rights and right of ways in the same manner(s) using
> the same tactics these women used to get their way.  This will be
> the only way to get it turned back around.  REVOLT REVOLT REVOLT!!!
> Picket and get the attention of the media until they can no longer
> ignore you.  Hang in there with your son, you'll do ok.  Males do
> stick together and your son will stick with you in the long run.
> The mothers just don't get it, do they?  They really lose in the
> long run.  Keep praying on it.  :)

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