Exclusive: Paterson’s Child-Support Cut

Eliot Spitzer’s running mate, State Senator David Paterson, was the prime, and sole, sponsor of legislation that would have sharply cut child-support payments, primarily from divorced men to their ex-wives.

Mr. Paterson introduced the bill,. S7402, in 2002 as part of a package of “fathers’ rights” legislation that included proposals that would move New York’s matrimonial law away from a status quo that critics say favors women. The package includes some proposals embraced by national matrimonial-law reform efforts, like changing the notion of “visitation” to “parenting time.”

But it also includes proposals that, matrimonial lawyers said, are well outside anything they’ve ever heard discussed. That includes cuts of up to 24% in the combined parental income that the non-custodial parent (usually the father) is expected to pay in child support — for a family with two children, for example, that number would fall from 25% to 19%. Another provision would allow non-custodial fathers (or mothers) to make up arrears at a rate no more than 10% of the regular monthly payment.

Paterson’s two-decade record in the New York State Senate remains largely unexamined, but a scan of the bills he has sponsored suggests that it will offer large targets to Mr. Spitzer’s Republican opponents. The Paterson legislation includes a bill to extend the franchise to non-citizens and one to bar police officers from carrying more than 10 bullets in their guns’ magazines, along with the now-infamous “shoot-to-wound” proposal, which Paterson has since disowned. Mr. Spitzer hasn’t made matrimonial law part of his campaign, but his first campaign commercial opened with the image of a lone woman in front of a run-down house.

Mr. Paterson thought better of the fathers’ rights proposal and withdrew it the year after he introduced it, said his acting chief-of-staff, Charles O’Byrne.

Exclusive: Paterson’s Child-Support Cut