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Tony's Law


Maggie Murphy

I am trying to propose and get passed a new law in the State of California. Let me tell you a little about myself and the background on the cause of this proposal.

I graduated with honors, in the top of my class in 1994 from Mission Bay High School. I worked 2 jobs, and at times 3 jobs to make it on my own and succeed. But life happens, and in 1996 my son was born. I was forced to handle the full responsibility of parenthood alone. I had to quit work and was forced (not by choice) to go on welfare, food stamps, and medi-cal to survive. We lived in a run down 1 bedroom apartment in Southeast San Diego. Thanks to the new food stamps program there was always plenty of food. But after paying rent that left about $40.00 for non food essentials such as diapers, or toiletries. And I still had the phone bill and gas and electric to pay. I was forced to use my credit cards (which were in good standing at the time) to survive that dreadful year.

Now lets fast forward to 2003. I have a great job, wonderful family and friends, and I started a support group called The F.A.D.A. Project (Families Against Dead-Beats and Abandonment). I have a nice fairly new paid off car (thanks to earned income credit), but what my life lacks most is child support and affordable housing, and or housing assistance. I have yet to receive a
dime let alone a dollar from the absent father. It has been well over 6 years now. We eventually had to move out of my 2 bedroom after another rate increase made payment impossible without having a roommate. And now that I am comfortable to search again, no one accepts my applications. I hold no evictions, my work history is immaculate, but because I used my credit cards and became in debt, my credit is not in good standing. I have been on section 8 (housing assistance) waiting list almost 5 years now. But I may not even qualify now given my current income status. Where is the justice? Why must the children suffer like this?

My proposal is quite simple. There should be a new law that if an absent parent has 0 visitation, and has paid 0 in child support, then that should mean he has 0 chances left. And on the child's 5th birthday he/she should be held accountable. Maybe then he/she will remember that child's birthday. It should thus become a felony subject to jail, and or fine, and mandatory wage assignment. And given each case is unique, he/she can be held liable anywhere from 50-60% wage garnishments automatically. To start paying back any state assistance, and of course back child support plus interest.

Why should the custodial parents, mothers and fathers, suffer from the actions of the absent parent? I will probably have bad debt for the rest of my life. I refuse to file for bankruptcy, I want to correct the debt. But why should housing be so difficult in California for single parents? Why should the responsible party suffer in this way? Where is the justice for the children? They don't deserve this act of punishment.

Tony is striving, but it will take years to heal the wounds. He saw domestic violence at the hands of the absent father, and has since been traumatized. He has violent dreams at least 3 times a week. And of course kids can be cruel. There is no Father's Day. His last Christmas card inscribed: "To my family, Merry Christmas, I love you. Love, Tony." The family part was his teacher's idea, since the rest of the class wrote, "To mom and dad." It shouldn't have to be this way. Please help make a change. Make a difference in Tony's life, as well as others like him. They deserve a better and brighter future. Their future is now, the time for change is long overdue.

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