Thursday, December 30, 2004

Judge dismisses challenge to state child support laws

This is reference to the case I discussed here.

Judge dismisses challenge to state child support laws

12/29/2004, 3:07 p.m. ET
By MICHAEL VIRTANEN The Associated Press

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — A judge has dismissed a Hudson Valley father's constitutional challenge to New York's child support laws, ruling federal court lacks jurisdiction to determine whether the state's income-based support guidelines violate parents' rights.

Harold Rosenberger sued Ulster Family Court and the state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance in April. The Highland man claimed New York's Family Court Act and Domestic Relations Law infringe on a parent's right to determine "how much money a parent spends on the care and maintenance of his or her child."

U.S. District Judge Gary Sharpe dismissed the suit last week, concluding any challenges to the Family Court order affecting Rosenberger belong in state appellate courts. Rosenberger promptly filed for reconsideration, claiming the judge's reasoning is wrong, and that his suit intends to overturn the laws themselves on behalf of all New Yorkers.

Rosenberger was divorced June 17, 1999, from Cynthia Cashman, who filed Family Court petitions for child support and sole custody of their three children, according to court papers.

On Jan. 24, 2002, Rosenberger was ordered by Ulster Family Court to pay child support of $325.69 per week and 73 percent of all unreimbursed health expenses. On March 21, 2002, the OTDA arranged to have the money taken from his paycheck.

In federal court, he claimed the state laws infringed on his right to privacy and due process.
Sharpe ruled that while the U.S. Supreme Court may review state court judgments, the lower federal courts cannot. And while Rosenberger argued he is challenging the constitutionality of the state laws, not his own Family Court order, Sharpe found them "inextricably intertwined."

"Finally, this court would be outside the bounds of its jurisdiction in addressing subjects of domestic relations which clearly `belong to the laws of the States,'" Sharpe wrote, citing a 1990 decision from the U.S. District Court in Brooklyn.

Rosenberger, a computer programmer representing himself in court, said Wednesday he has petitioned Sharpe for reconsideration and that state laws must align with federal law. If that fails, he plans to appeal to the 2nd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, where he has a separate case pending over New York's custody laws.

"The Supreme Court has said you can raise your children as you see fit," Rosenberger said. "People don't think of it as a constitutional right, which it really is."

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