John Doe grew up in a working class family in a working class neighborhood. He was fairly ordinary. He received average grades in school, was well-liked though not very popular and basically blended into mainstream life without standing out in any way.
Upon graduating high school, he muddled through a variety of jobs until landing in non-union construction. The work was extremely taxing on the body, but the pay was pretty good (in the beginning) and he didn’t mind the hard work. It kept him in good shape and gave him the feeling of earning his pay every week at a job that had purpose.
He met a woman, they eventually married and had two sweet, beautiful daughters that changed his life. Everything was different after these two angels came into his life. He’d never before felt the way he did about them. Their sweetness and innocence were a joy he’d never known.
Like many people in modern society, the Does had marital problems and divorced. John switched to working nights so his ex-wife could work full-time and he could take care of the girls during the day.
He volunteered to read books in his younger daughter’s class, attended teacher/parent conferences, helped the girls with homework and school projects, brought them to parks, read to them often, played games using imagination instead of relying on purchased toys, taught them the art of storytelling and cooked them dinner five nights a week. Then, he’d go to his job doing small construction jobs in large retail stores overnight.
While life seemed beautiful despite the divorce, there were two events which would lead to much more despair than John could have anticipated. He had two car accidents in which he was hit from behind at high speed while sitting at a red light. Yes, hit from behind at a red light two times within a span of thirteen months. He wiped out his savings account while waiting for the insurance companies to barter over scraps and, by the time the dust had settled, a couple of small checks arrived in the mail which didn’t come close to covering the expenses he’d incurred. (More important than that was the fact that he was unable to continue doing the only type of work he knew and began experiencing debilitating head pain from the second accident that prevented him from functioning normally – never mind holding any steady job).
Soon after the second accident, his wife decided to move to another state with their daughters and took him to court to make it legal. Though he couldn’t hold a regular job, he worked odd jobs as much as possible. He also sold the majority of his belongings – music equipment, sports collectibles, CDs and DVDs, but was unable to keep up with child support. Eventually he fell behind in payments which allowed his ex-wife to win the lawsuit and move more than a thousand miles away. This was devastating. John had always been there for his daughters. He was an integral part of their lives and was suddenly faced with not being able to see them until he was able to come up with money for bus fare and hotel accommodations.
Part of the settlement handed down from the Family Court judge (who reprimanded him for losing his attorney during the proceedings due to a lack of funds) included a child support payment that was far too high for John to afford. This decision was made despite the fact that his wife got their house in the original divorce settlement, works full time and receives monthly payments from a structured settlement while he is barely scraping by at the expense of family and friends. The amount he is still expected to pay is 195% of his disability check. And, if he IS able to find light work that he is physically capable of, the money he earns is deducted from his monthly check.
Today, John is facing imminent homelessness and could still be subjected to up to six months in jail for not being able to keep up with the child support payments as dictated by Family Court. And this, sadly, in a society in which wealthy men are allowed to irresponsibly make unwanted babies, pay a mere pittance to the hard working Mothers who struggle to raise them and walk freely among civilized human beings.
Is this necessary justice for an immoral deadbeat dad or have we franchised another outlet for punishing the less fortunate in a cold, heartless society that has perfected the “art” of dehumanization?