Fowler v. Ricks

MCBSS o/b/o Ricks v. Revel Fowler FD-11-1012-07

Revel Fowler v. Cassandra Ricks FD-11-1106-07

When a mother receiving TANF (welfare) gives birth to another child, the welfare benefits received do not increase. This is referred to as the “welfare cap.” However, she is required to assign her right to receive child support for the after-born child to the State. This means, in effect, that the father would pay child support, but the funds paid would not go to help his child, they would be used to repay a welfare grant for the child(ren) the mother had before his child was born. This is, obviously, unfair.

Revel Fowler, father of Crystal Fowler, objected to paying child support through probation as the Mercer County Board of Social Services would seize all but $50 of what was paid because his daughter was born after Crystal’s mother began receiving public assistance. He would have to pay child support, but Crystal would receive no benefit from it as it would be used to pay for benefits Crystal’s mother received for her other child.

In an exhaustively researched 64 page decision, Hon. Mitchell E. Ostrer,
JSC (now an Appellate Division judge) held that the Assignment of Child Support under these circumstances violates the “taking clause” of the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article 1, paragraph 20 of the New Jersey Constitution.

December 4, 2007 decision

Supporting brief on behalf of Diamond Fowler (child) (Lawrence Lustberg, Esq. Melanca Clerk, Esq.) (6/07)
Supporting brief on behalf of Cassandra Ricks (mom) (Leslie Chappo, Esq. Mercer Legal Services (pending)
Brief in opposition (MCBSS) (Thomas W. Sumners, Esq) (6/07)
Letter Brief on behalf of Revel Fowler (David Perry Davis, Esq.) (7/07)