For fathers and the children who love them and need them, Massachusetts sometimes looks a lot like feminist hell. In this series, Ned Holstein, Executive Director of Fathers & Families, points to four um…problematic…Massachusetts family law bills. The first bill Holstein cites limits the freedoms of all dads–even married dads and “dads” with no children!

From Holstein:

Here are four candidates for the most dubious family bills in the Massachusetts Legislature….I would like to hear from those in other states – tell me about the legislative doozies in your state. Then we will determine the winner of “most ridiculous family law bill in the country.” The winner will be chosen according to secret criteria that are 100 percent subjective.

(To enter the contest, your email must include the text of the bill, or a link to the text. The bill must be current. Please indicate whether I can use your name as the submitter.)

For our first entry from Massachusetts, I offer:

“Don’t Get in a Car Accident in California”

Massachusetts Doozy Number Four, HB 113:

OK, so you are happily married and live in Massachusetts and lose your job, so you go to California where you think you have a better shot. On your second day there, you get in a horrendous car wreck and are hospitalized for the next four months. Under HB 113, a court shall issue a warrant for your arrest because you left Massachusetts for over 90 days without making “provisions for the support” of your spouse.

(The word “shall” is important because in law, it means that the thing must be done, without room for discretion.)

Yes, that’s right, this law would apply even to marrieds, even without kids. And failing to find a job in California despite best efforts. And falling ill. And working on commissions, which do not arrive in 90 days — you get the picture.

Naturally, it would also extend to those with child support orders.

So don’t try to better your family’s circumstances by going out of state — you might end up in jail if things don’t work out. (This could get bad if the dollar keeps falling and we start going to Mexico for work.)

Presumably, like all family law, this would be applied in a gendered manner, so that women would rarely, if ever, be arrested under its provisions. And speaking of the little woman, this bill seems to assume that she is helpless and cannot support herself while you are gone — and no exception just because you and she are childless.

Glenn Sacks, www.GlennSacks.com

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