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Alimony Arithmetic: More States Are Looking at Formulas to Regulate Spousal Support

Feb 1, 2012, 04:30 am CDT

Comments

I’m not opposed to aliminy, I am opposed to lifetime alimony.  In my case I am the woman and the alimony payer to my alcoholic exhusband.  I fear will never be able to retire.  I pay him $3K a month!  The court decided he is disabled due to alcoholism.  If he is disabled shouldnt he be collecting disability?!  I understand that the state of NJ doesnt want to support him, however, he has substantial assets from our marriage to survive.

When the primary bread winner in a married relationship retires, both people have to adjust and learn to live on lesser income.  In a life time alimony situation, the receiving spouse has already obtained 50% or more of the couple’s assets plus 50% or more of the paying spouse’s retirement.  Why it is that when the payer retires, the payee is still getting the same amount.  He/she already has 50% of the retirement assets.  Forcing the payer to use his/her retirement assets to pay alimony is double dipping.  It is unfair to make the payer work until his/her death just because their marriage failed.

By kscNJ on 2012 01 23, 2:23 pm CDT

I don’t agree with Mr Kesslar who says that the horror stories are not pervasive enough to warrant changing the laws.  Maybe not for him but for MANY alimony payers, their lives have been ruined by the laws and the court system. In the case that Ms Gold-bikin talks about, maybe alimony is warranted in that case BUT there are many others where the wife just did not want to work and did NOT put the husband through school. In many cases the woman went out and had affairs and the husband has to pay alimony simply because he was the highest earner.  There’s nothing like being punished for being the breadwinner! In many of the cases the woman has already received at least 50% of the assets and 50% of retirement benefits so why should she continue to be able to drain his assets? Why is it that women want equality but not when it comes to alimony??

By Bea on 2012 02 03, 7:36 pm CDT

Please consider a letter published just yesterday:
——-
Alimony laws are archaic

The letter below appeared in The South Florida Sun-Sentinel on Thursday February 2, 2012.

http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/opinion/letters/fl-letters-0202-20120202,0,3813778,full.story

Re: “Report: Should alimony laws be changed?” on Jan. 25:

Why permanent alimony? Why should any state have laws granting alimony for life? For a law to continue, there must be a sound reason for its continuation.

A case can be made for short-term rehabilitative alimony for education or job training. However, in 2012 where women surpass men in education, occupation and income, no case can be made for unpredictable permanent alimony awards made by judges on the basis of unfathomable reasons.

So why do these archaic laws continue? In the cited USA TODAY article, the only advocates for continuing permanent alimony are members of the divorce industry who personally profit from the legal conflicts surrounding permanent alimony. Enriching the divorce industry is no reason to keep permanent alimony.

The money would be better spent on those who come first and deserve better — the children of divorce.

Gordon E. Finley, Florida International University, Miami

Link to cited USATODAY Investigative Report: 

http://www.usatoday.com/money/perfi/basics/story/2012-01-05/alimony-law-reform/52642100/1?csp=ip

By Gordon E. Finley, Ph.D. on 2012 02 03, 7:40 pm CDT

I would like to thank the ABA Journal for publishing their article on Alimony Reform.  Keeping the interest going in this topic is the beginning of awareness that helps initiate the changes necessary for reform.  While the article appears to be balanced in trying to give various and opposing viewpoints,  it also seems to have an underlying theme that discretion by Judges for alimony awards is necessary.  I would tend to agree with that premise if in fact Judges were making decisions that were reasonable and fair accross the board.  The reality is that many (dare I say most) Judges are using the discretion that they are legislatively awarded to the absolute limits of what is not appropriate, oftentimes crossing the line into financial abuse.  Our society expects Judges to bring balance and correctness to, what is arguably, one of the most devistating and emotional times in a couple’s life.  What instead happens with an order of Permanent Alimony is that one spouse in the relationship is re-victimized and forced to remain as an indentured servent to the judicial system, not to mention to the spouse receiving the alimony award.  If we as a society can no longer count on our Judicial system to be fair and unbiased, then the law must be changed to take away some of the discretion that allows for the abuse to occur.  A formula was created for Child Support, and although the charted numbers, in my opinion, require updating, that seems to be effective even though there is a certain amount of discretion allowed by the Judge (5% in either direction); why then can’t the Florida Bar figure out a way to put a specific duration and a formulated amount in an Alimony award?  Is it no wonder why people think that the system of family law is self-serving?

Alan Frisher, Financial Advisor, Certified Divorce Financial Analyst
Co-Director, Florida Alimony Reform
www.FloridaAlimonyReform.com

By afrisher on 2012 02 03, 7:42 pm CDT

Alimony is just a modern form of slavery forcing one person to involuntarily give their assets to another for life. I am a disabled man who was forced by an insane judgement to pay my ex wife permanent alimony from my monthly disability allowance. This judgement has left me unable to support myself. I have not had a car since this award. I have not had a home of my own since this award. I would be homeless because of this egregious alimony award had not a kind friend allowed me to move in to his spare bedroom “temporarily” 5 YEARS AGO! My ex wife purchased a new home in a gated community.

My ex wife had a history of sexual relations with minor boys. Police and Children’s Services removed a teen from her home. She was Baker Acted by her own employer and placed by Sheriff’s Deputies into a mental ward for being a danger to herself and others. She has been disowned by her own daughter and Deputy son-in-law because of her toxic and dangerous behavior. She stole ten thousand dollars from our bank account and proudly admitted it to the judge saying, “I deserved it!” The female judge did not care.

In an insane judgement, the judge awarded my mentally unbalanced ex (who has a full time job with benefits) - a large portion of my disability allowance, 100% of my pension, 100% of our home with swimming pool, 100% of our vehicles, 100% of our bank account / savings, and $5000 in attorney fees!

I was financially raped and then enslaved by our judicial system and a biased judge.

Is there a bright side to this insanity? My daughter calls me her hero for protecting her from her mentally unbalanced mother for so many years. At her wedding to a Deputy Sheriff this past Spring, she had me walk her down the aisle. He mother (my ex wife) was not invited to the wedding and security was in place to remove her if she appeared. 14 months after my daughter’s wedding, she will give birth to my first grandchild - someone my ex wife will never be allowed to know or see.

It is time to put a retroactive end to alimony. Free those who were enslaved by this idiocy.

By Steven on 2012 02 03, 9:28 pm CDT

The statement in this article, “And alimony is one of the most frequently litigated issues in family law, attorneys say”, is absolutely true. Family law attorneys in Florida do NOT care about the welfare of families and do not care to settle cases. Instead, they prefer to have their clients battle in court for a lifetime. I know this to be a fact because I’ve been fighting in Court for the last 11 years because my ex-wife, at the age of 34 and perfectly healthy, was awarded permanent alimony for life!  The Florida Bar, under the direction of Family Law attorneys like Elisha Roy,  continue to fight against reforming the alimony laws. Despite the recommendations by the AAML, The Florida Bar has made no real effort to fix Florida’s outdated alimony laws. Women, not just men, find the laws in Florida to be an insult to modern-day self-sufficient women!

By Hector Torres on 2012 02 03, 10:04 pm CDT

“I worry that bad cases are prompting bad law,” Kessler says. “Burned victims are lobbying to get rid of alimony, when they should be lobbying to get rid of a particular judge.”

THis comment suggests that Mr. Kessler is unfamiliar with states, including Florida and New Jersey (and Mass., until new law came in) where the laws are truly barbaric and favor lifetime alimony to a huge degree and give judges no guidance of any kind in limiting the amount or duration of alimony.  However, Mr. Kessler should be reminded that no one is lobbying to “get rid of alimony,” but only to get rid of routine awards of lifetime alimony, which is truly damaging to all parties - to everyone but the lawyers, who get to use their “creativity” when clients have to return again and again to court over these lifetime awards.

Since there are 50 different alimony laws for 50 different states, it’s important to remember that lawyers (and others) tend to be talking about the laws in their individual states, as that tends to be all they know. Someone who speaks for the ABA should clarify that in his/her statements, and if s/he wishes to speak for the entire country, s/he ought to speak more knowledgeably. AND try to help the states in which the laws are truly, deeply, seriously out-of-date and out-of-whack.

By lizzie8484 on 2012 02 04, 12:54 am CDT

I am the second wife of a Florida alimony payor. My husband was denied a modification of alimony because he remarried. Now, no where in Statute 61.14 does it say that a second wife’s income can be used in a modification proceeding, but…..that line that says all relevant factors, including all sources of income available to either party, etc. is used by judges all over the state to include the income of a second wife in a modification proceeding. Now, the Senate committee’s version of the bill, also.added:” the net income available to each party after the application of the alimony award, WOW!!! I don’t know how many of you readers have read this version, but it sure made my blood boil!!  However,my dictionary states that “available” means capable of being used, at hand, accessible. Since my husband and I have no access to each other’s financial information, no joint anything, I’m assuming no judge in Florida could use that section of the law henceforth in a modification proceeding. I mean, how can a judge use that in a modification proceeding whe the payor has “no access” to his second wife’s income? Can anybody answer that for me?  I am fully aware that my income cannot be actually taken, and I can assure you, if anybody ever tried, it would be over my dead body. No second wife should ever be considered in a modification of alimony. That in itself places three people in the divorce, instead of the two that are divorced, and I never heard of a three-person divorce. One other comment: the ex-wife , in our case, is receiving so much alimony from my husband, that he is not able to offer any support to his new wife, me, and meet his financial obligations.  So, now, the new wife, me, is supporting her husband so he can pay the ex-wife who is capable of supporting herself. HOW IS THAT FAIR? These antiquated and archaic laws must be changed. No man, woman or new spouse should ever be forced by a state into indentured servitude for the rest of their lives. I am 68, my husband is 64 and his ex-wife is a 52 year old college educated woman who refuses to work so she can continue to hurt him because he couldn’t take living with this woman any longer.

By 2ndwife on 2012 02 04, 1:07 am CDT

I am a divorced woman who recently moved to Florida from a state where alimony, although technically allowed, is never awarded. If you divorce, you split up assets and walk away. It’s a clean split.  I am engaged to a divorced man here and a cloud hangs over our happiness about our relationship.  He is paying life-time alimony to his ex-wife who is college educated and healthy, but refuses to even attempt to work.  Technically, he is paying 30%, but it is calculated before taxes, so his take home pay is nearly identical to what is given to her out of every paycheck.  We don’t want my income to be considered as “available income” should she decide to ask for an adjustment, so we are holding off getting married. Of course we are watching the Florida alimony reform efforts very closely in hopes that there is some common sense in the legislature and these important changes get put into place.  We desperately want to be a family - but with this hanging over us, it puts a damper on any plans to move forward. This law is antiquated - women are perfectly capable of taking care of themselves.  Divorce is an adjustment for everyone involved and the courts need to stop indulging the sense of entitlement that seems so pervasive in a system like Florida’s.

By AfraidtoMarry on 2012 02 04, 8:42 am CDT

Alimony should only be for a maximum of 4 years to allow time for a college education or to find a real job.  My ex created a lifestyle thru credit card spending which has resulted in bankruptcy for me while she lives the lifestyle despite refusing to work during our marriage.

By Dollar Bill on 2012 02 04, 9:45 am CDT

Thank You for continuing the discussion of Alimony Reform.  Not mentioned in the article is the topic of “No-Fault” Divorce.  It takes two to make a marriage, but only one for divorce.  Situations where a wife left her husband for another man are equally as common as men leaving for women.  Logically, all No-Fault Divorces should be followed with Transitional Alimony or No-Fault Alimony.  There should not be a winner and a loser with No-Fault Divorce, unless we choose to reverse our laws and once again assign fault. 
Lifetime alimony is counterproductive to both spouses and their children.  No one can move on with their life with financial ties that won’t go away until death.  Remarriage is rare. Why kill the golden goose?
Florida is trying to change their laws but is being met with resistance by those benefiting by existing alimony laws, some divorce attorneys who see this as a financial threat.  Shouldn’t we measure the quality of a law by the affect it has on populations rather than its financial potential with litigation?
Common sense isn’t that common, but common sense is needed to help rekindle the issue of Personal Responsibility.  Healthy people are entitled to an opportunity, not lifetime support. Please see what is happening at http://www.FloridaAlimonyReform.com Thank You Again for bringing attention to the need for Alimony Reform!

By Charles Reinertsen on 2012 02 04, 10:24 am CDT

There needs to be a serious overhaul on these old laws. I also have someone near and dear to me whom I have had to watch get kicked down by the Judges in our county. The ex wife has continually manipulated the court system where the judges have taken her word over tangible facts. He got custody of his two children 5 years ago; she pays nothing for them even after the final ruling. She got the marital home, he got a shell of a home which he cannot live in due to the fact that it is right next door to her and she continually calls the cops and harasses him, she has also filed 2 domestic violence’s against him during the divorce process. If the judge would have paid attention throughout the entire court hearings he would have known he cannot live in the house next door due to her actions. Before every court hearing she gets herself fired purposely, so he has to pay not just for his two children but also her. Which now she is employed fulltime. He cannot afford to live. But the judges want to keep her in a life style that they never even had while they were married.

By CJ Schroeder on 2012 02 04, 12:48 pm CDT

@9 AfraidtoMarry: You should be afraid to marry in FL until these laws are changed.

And you should write to your legislators about this, and your beau should write to his. And make visits to their offices, and call them.  You should tell everyone who asks why you don’t marry, and spread the word. If you want to help change the laws, or want to find out how to contact your legislators, please visit Florida Alimony Reform. www.floridaalimonyreform.com.

By lizzie8484 on 2012 02 04, 1:11 pm CDT

Thank you ABA Journal for continuing to cover the topic of Alimony Reform.  Florida is in desperate need of alimony reform.  Florida has outdated and antiquated laws that are truly anti-family.  I believe in short-term alimony for the lower earning spouse to allow them to adjust to single life.  However, I do not believe in Permanent Lifetime Alimony for anyone.  We have guidelines and formulas for Child Support and its time in this modern society to apply some common sense to update the Alimony Laws in the State of Florida.  No human being needs to continue financial ties after a divorce with 40 and 50 year payouts to college educated, healthy able bodied people.  My husband has been paying permanent lifetime alimony for over 22 years to a former spouse who was awarded lifetime alimony at the age of 37! She has a good full time job, college educated, healthy so there should be no reason for my husband to continue this for another 30 years??? When you allow this antiquated welfare system statistics state that less than 15% of women will move on with their life, remarry and become productive members of society.  Its time to revise these laws, this isn’t 1950!

By Major700 on 2012 02 04, 2:13 pm CDT

Thank you for bringing this issue to discussion.  In Florida, the laws are particularly egregious.  I understand it is difficult to write law that applies in all cases, but permanent alimony is simply unjust.  Even for temporary alimony, judges should consider the income producing capabilities of both parties.  It is not right that a healthy, educated spouse can simply choose not to work and their income be counted at zero, but, most importantly, no one should be forced to continue to pay alimony past the retirement age of 66.

When you are young and in love you hear the stories about alimony, but are fully committed to marriage, looking forward to kids and a home in the suburbs, and never dream you will get divorced.  The years go by, there are good times and bad, the kids are growing up and you are planning for retirement.  Then your spouse meets someone at work, then quits work, so she can claim to be a housewife with no income, and files for divorce.  You get over the sadness and look forward to your day in court, only to find you have no rights.  Not only does the spouse get half of the assets, including a retirement account, which is fair, but you find yourself condemned to send her several thousand dollars per month for the rest of your life.  You can hardly afford it when times are good, then your income goes down with the economy.  You lose the house, you near retirement age but have liquidated your retirement fund to pay alimony, and you pay $250 to ask your attorney if you can reduce the alimony.  Your attorney laughs, says for $5,000 she will try, but it is unlikely, and you will have to pay your ex-wife’s attorney fees.  So you go home and ponder two or three very bad alternatives.  I frankly do not understand how permanent alimony is constitutional.  I pray that public sentiment will demand changes in our antiquated laws, and, again, thank you for providing this forum.

By Gilbert on 2012 02 04, 4:35 pm CDT

I am the girl friend of a Florida alimony payer. My boyfriend is a lifetime alimony payor.  We had discussed the idea of getting married but the way the alimony laws are stated that my income can be attached to his which would allow her to take him back to court. He has custody of his two children and they reside with us. Even though we would like to get married one day, I do not feel it is in my best interest to do so until these laws get changed.  It takes a good percentage of my income just to pay our everyday bills without any luxuries. I could not imagine having my income attached to his in order to keep his ex wife in a lifestyle that she never had while they were married. For instance she has a lawn service (I have to cut my own grass) and a pool service and even drives a Cadillac and she has a full time job and capable of working just like I have to.  She alone has a three bedroom house (martial home) we have a two bedroom house, her two children, myself and their dad.  Not to mention I would cringe at the thought of having to give up any of my retirement that I worked the last 18 years for.

By PattyM on 2012 02 04, 9:30 pm CDT

Thanks for printing this article. I am a divorced father of two who have custody of our children. I also got handed down the alimony card. My ex cheated and put our two children and myself in danger with several men she has been seeing. Even though this was proven to the courts, they do not care! I had to take the children out of the marital home per my attorney’s advice. We left with only the clothes on our backs, went to stay with relatives and ended up living there for a year and a half. On the next court date after that, the judge ordered me to still pay all the household bills I always had, even though the ex had a job, I was responsible for paying the mortgage, all car payments, insurance, gas and food for her. I had the children with me and had to also take care of them. The court didn’t care if the children were uprooted out of their own home. The ex got awarded back alimony, but I was denied back child support for the year and a half we had been out of the house. The court also made sure I paid for counseling for the children and the ex, in hopes they could mend their relationship with their mother. I am stuck with lifetime alimony and the ex has paid nothing toward the children for the last 5 years. My oldest child is now 19, according to the court as soon as my daughter turned 18 I am no longer responsible for her, I’m just supposed to go tell her “Honey, the court says I don’t have to care about you anymore so you’re on your own” So I should kick her out of the house and not worry if she can make it on her own? But the court orders that I have to support someone for life that I wasn’t even married to for 20 years? And not only support her but her live in boyfriends? And keep her in a life style that we never even had when we were married? The ex can lie, steal, manipulate, perjure and not comply with court orders and its okay with them. Yet under advisement by my attorney I am to be the nice guy and do exactly as the court orders, and play by the rules. It doesn’t work! There is no reward for following the rules. Now I am barely making ends meet and still have children to take care of, when will it ever be for the children? I not only have lifetime alimony, the ex also got half of my 401K, half of my retirement, and now that I have entered the DROP she gets a bonus of $96,000. If I hadn’t been persuaded to go into the DROP program I wouldn’t have done it. As it stands now I won’t ever be able to retire. I have been a civil servant for the state of Florida for over 30 years; I implore the state lawmakers and legislators to make the change set us free

By JohnE on 2012 02 04, 9:35 pm CDT

While all polls show a greater than 90% approval for a drastic alimony reform, here is where we stand today. Despite all public outcry, the Florida Bar’s influence does to our proposed law changes (SB748) what they do on a daily basis in “Family Court”...stick it up our a**! Whats more, HB 565 (which makes ALL PREMARITAL assets, MARITAL assets to be divided!) just got a unanimous vote in committee and on its way to be law. God help us. The reptiles are thick down here in Florida.

By Bill Board on 2012 02 04, 9:56 pm CDT

The laws are outdated and should be done case by case then reviewed yearly for adjustments

By jpeters on 2012 02 04, 10:33 pm CDT

Bill Board: Could you explain a little further exactly what your post means? Thanks.

By 2ndwife on 2012 02 04, 10:50 pm CDT

2ndwife, The proposed bill(s) for alimony reform in Florida have been gutted in committee. The Fl. Bar are embedded in all committees which determine a bill status. 1000’s of hours have been spent drafting something fair and close to AAML recommendations…to be treated like toilet paper.
HB565 states that any and all property brought into a marriage is now “of” the marriage and shall be split. The more it hurts, the more we need to lawyer up.

jpeters, you are the essence of the problem. Do you actually suggest that we return to your courtrooms annually at $400/hr for a broken marriage? Should I at 58 still be ordered to my old principals office for jaywalking when I was 10?

By Bill Board on 2012 02 04, 11:46 pm CDT

Thanks, Bill for the information. I thought that was what it meant. And you are so right about the Fl Bar gutting these much needed reforms. I have read the “new” Senate version and it only strengthens the alimony statutes in favor of the payee! It does nothing to reform these horrible and unfair laws. I praise FAR for all it has done and will continue to do to bring justice to those that suffer under these archaic and outdated laws. Just as the U.S, Congress has the power to create laws that do not serve the majority of people in this country, it seems Florida legislators are doing the same thing, passing legislation that only serves their special interests and pocketbooks.. You know, if the people of Florida really knew what was going on they would be outraged!! I recently discovered that 60% of all marriages in Florida end up in divorce court and that affects millions of Floridians. Apathy seems to be a way of life in this country these days, and what a rude awakening future couples who seek divorce are in for. They have no idea how they will be raped of their hard earned money and property. Personally, I do not believe in any form of alimony. I took care of myself and my two children on my own and it made me a stronger and more independent person. No one should go through this life financially burdened by a person they no longer want to be with. Thanks again for the information.

By 2ndwife on 2012 02 05, 12:39 am CDT

Every day I live, I come to realize more and more, there is no such thing as ” Of the people, For the people, By the people”  We have,, For the over the course of our history, become a Government for special interest only. The Florida Bar, and a few slimy politicians whom they have in their pockets, are fully in charge if the State of Florida. I cannot honestly believe our representatives ever actually listen to or hear their constituents. To allow a vast number to be be placed into and held in bondage for the remainder of their lives is a crime against humanity and an absolute disgrace upon our state.  Since “our” government will not listen to us, Revolutions are never held by people that wanted on, but by people that were forced into it.  Thank you for to the Florida bar and some slimy ass politicians for forcing me to live a life that daily I have to sit and think the ONLY way I will ever be free, and able to live life again, is when the ex drops dead. and you morons wonder what creates criminals. Of course I guess that’s the perfect business, Keep antiquated laws on the books, make billions of dollars using those same laws to make slaves out of our hard working underlings, then when they can’t follow through with what we ordered, imprison them, keep them tied up in the courts for the remainder of their lives and make even more money for your slimy ass Florida Bar, they in turn will line your pockets.  Florida lawmakers, you SUCK and can stick your alimony laws up you ass,  more and more I am in aggreance with freedom through any means necessary…...................

By David W Fleenor on 2012 02 05, 6:50 am CDT

Regarding the need for judicial discretion.
After firing my attorney and proceeding pro se I presented case law which conclusively precluded my ex-wife’s demand for more support.  The FL judge hesitated, then asked opposing counsel if there had been any settlement on the issue with my former counsel.  Opposing counsel said there was.  I objected, saying I had never agreed to any such settlement.  The judge then ruled that my prior attorney had the power to settle my case WITHOUT my approval, and support was increased.
Could I appeal this?  Not really, since the same judge ruled that I have to pay my ex-wife’s attorney fees.

I’m an attorney, and I’m telling you…judicial discretion is out of control.

By TPat on 2012 02 05, 8:35 am CDT

I pay lifetime Florida alimony.
My work environment has turned very sour, and I’d love to change jobs. 
  But I can’t take a lower paying job without approval from the court.
I’d like to make long term financial plans.
  But the court can divert my income at any time.
I’d like to retire in 8 years.
  But the court will tell me when - and if - I can retire.

When you think about it, this sounds more like a conservatorship than alimony.  The court has absolute power over my life until I die.  And the court is out of control.  This is a nightmare.

By TPat on 2012 02 05, 8:44 am CDT

Thank you for publishing this article.  There is no worse law than one which allows Permanent Lifetime Alimony.  I paid for almost 20 years to an ex who lived with her boy friend for 18 years.  She worked the entire time and the two of them traveled extensively.  She even got half of my military retirement pay for life. Yet when I took her back to court 10 years ago to try to have my alimony terminated or at least reduced, all the judge would say is “for all practical purposes you alimony has gone down due to inflation”.  He changed nothing. 
I was involuntarily laid off last year and was already 65. I was finally able to terminate the permanent alimony only after my ex’s boy friend was accidently killed. She realized that the same thing could happen to me leaving her with significantly reduced income.  She finally agreed to an out of court lump sum settlement to end the alimony.  I paid what I thought was way too much but I was not willing to pay an attorney a significant fee to then take a chance on the whims of any Brevard County Judge.  Yes, I have less now for retirement but at least there is some certainty in the small income I have and what I can use it for.
Florida is a slave state where the judges can do what they want.  They have no guidelines.  I have no problem with alimony used for temporary or rehabilitative support.  But in any case alimony should never last beyond the number of years of the marriage or beyond the payer’s age of full retirement.
The new law that was proposed in Florida (and recently gutted) was not meant to cover every single case.  Yes, there are cases where the payee is disabled and must be supported.  But what about the rest of us?  Is it fair for an ex to leave, live with a significant other and still have us pay for their lifestyles for ever?  Is it fair to enable someone who is perfectly capable of supporting themselves to never work while the payer sometimes must work two jobs (if he can find them) to keep paying?  Is it fair that we can never retire because of this slavery we are saddled with?

By fordfan46 on 2012 02 05, 8:50 am CDT

Attempts to make alimony more fair are the equivalent of attempting to make slavery more humane - it will never happen because it is morally reprehensible.  Requiring one party to support the other will only bring greed and sloth to the receiver, misery and poverty to the payer, and wealth to those arranging the transfer.

When a business partnership is dissolved the partners divide the assets and go their separate ways, neither responsible for the outcome of the former partner’s future.  If one spouse in a marriage is said to be disadvantaged in his/her ability to earn a living, then give that spouse a larger percentage of the assets. Unfortunately, with the present system the disadvantaged spouse ends up with greater than one hundred percent of the assets when alimony is added.  The alimony payer loses freedom to privacy and freedom to pursue happiness, the receiver loses moral standing and incentive to work, attorneys and judges gain power and money.

Statements such as “the woman sacrificed a career to stay at home with the children” ignore the fact the man may have worked sixty hours per week, missed the kids soccer games, and shortened his life in the effort to establish the family assets. The law rightfully does not claim he should receive more than fifty per cent of the assets because he contributed more financially; why then should it require the woman to be compensated with greater than one hundred percent of the assets because she chose to stay home with the kids, be available for neighborhood teas, and eat bonbons while watching the soaps?

The method to eliminate iron lungs was to eliminate polio.  The way to eliminate alimony injustices is to eliminate alimony.

By entn01 on 2012 02 05, 9:19 am CDT

What dumbfounds me is the power of the Florida Bar in advising House and Senate Committees. The legislators must realize they are elected by the citizens and are accountable to the citizens, not the Florida Bar. How can anyone justify permanent alimony in 2012? Unless a person is disabled during the marriage, there is no justification. Families and lives are ruined by these laws and rulings. If I were arrested and charged with a crime, I would have have a trial by jury of 12 of my peers. In divorce cases, lives are decided by a single judge and who knows their motivation and bias? The whole marriage industry is a joke to begin with. You have to give an attorney a large retainer. Any action related to your case costs hundreds of dollars. Even to settle a case, we are talking multiple thousands of dollars. I cannot imagine the cost of litigation or to attempt a modification when dollars are short at retirement age. You are essentially gambling.

This is the reason laws MUST be changed. A divorce or modification should not be a gamble. Judges need clear cut guidelines to follow. Why on Earth should the Florida Bar be against it? I have yet to hear a REAL reason. Having been through a divorce and having watched many friends go through divorces, I have seen one recurring theme: the majority of family lawyers do not care about the clients. They are cold and impersonal and only care about their billable hours. They double dib- they sit during your mediation while e-mailing other clients on their cell phones. If they have to call you to cancel a meeting because of a conflict with THEIR schedule, they charge you $60 for that call! The Florida Bar does not want reform because they are afraid it will hurt the livelihood of their industry. Just once let the people see some noble motives for a change, motives that show they actually care about people and families and not their bank accounts.

Alimony Reform is 100% necessary everywhere, unless you are already in a state with reasonable statutes like Texas or Rhode Island. Permanent alimony is dangerous. The recipients don’t get remarried or seek to better themselves. So many recipients are depressed people addicted to pills and/or alcohol. The payors are bitter and demoralized, some so much they have commit suicide. (I have facts to back this up). It is not a good idea to marry a payor unless you are willing to have your assets and income included in their ability to pay the ex’s alimony.

The WORST part is the damage to the children of divorce over this matter. There is so much acrimony over permanent alimony that it makes it impossible for the former spouses to get along and co-parent the children properly and with civility. No one gets really upset about paying child support because it is based on a strict formula. If alimony were based on a similar formula, people would accept it better and there would be less resentment, less acrimony, assuming the formula was fair. The original bills presented to the FL House and Senate called for such fair formulas but were gutted in committee. WHY??? Pressure from the FL Bar??? Back to paragraph one of this post…

I’m glad it’s an election year and these legislators need to be reminded that it is and be reminded that THEY ARE ACCOUNTABLE TO THE CITIZENS OF FLORIDA, NOT THE FLORIDA BAR.

By Debbie Israel on 2012 02 05, 2:04 pm CDT

Please follow me on Twitter- usename AlimonyReformer. We need to get these legislators accountable to the people, not the Florida Bar.

By Debbie Israel on 2012 02 05, 2:07 pm CDT

I pay permanent alimony to a woman who is college educated, has worked for Fortune 500 companies, and shortly before she filed for divorce, quit her job so that when she filed for divorce to go live with her boyfriend, she would have no income and therefore a greater need.

I stayed in a bad marriage for 19 years because I thought I was doing the right thing for my children who are now 17 and 20. By being a resposible parent, I wound up hurting myself because the length of the marriage qualified as long term and therefore was ordered pay alimony for life.

I can never retire. I have a stressful job and have to give away half of my net pay to my ex wife. She doesn’t work. She has the greatest tan because she is either at the beach, shopping, or on vacation with her boyfriend.

My 17 year old son has chosen to live with me, but she has not paid her child support. I don’t have the money to fight this. My divorce cost over $100,000 and my finances are drained.

Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness??? Not in Florida.

By Steve Chase on 2012 02 05, 2:13 pm CDT

Debbie, unfortunately, most legislators are lawyers and they run the BAR.

By Gilbert on 2012 02 05, 3:21 pm CDT

Ms. Debbie Israel,  You seem to know how politics work. The Florida Bar has lobbyists is Tallahassee whose main goals are to influence the legislators and get them to follow the Bar’s position on all legislation.  Elisha Roy, a FL attorney, heads the FL Bar’s alimony subcommittee ( as shown here http://www.familylawfla.org/committees/legislation/materials/0112612/agenda_1-26-12.pdf ) . Elisha Roy is responsible for the current state of the alimony laws. Ms. Roy is ANTI-REFORM, she does not want any reform to the current alimony laws. She works for a law firm called “Sasser, Cestero & Sasser, P.A ( see here http://www.sasserlaw.com/attorneys/  ). The e firm Sasser, Cestero & Sasser, P.A’s main practice is “family law”  and one of their attorneys promotes laws that create MORE litigation for all parties involved in family matters. Does anyone see the connection?

By Florida Attorney on 2012 02 05, 3:29 pm CDT

Permanent alimony amounts to permanent indentured servitude to an able bodied individual.  My ex is a 50-year old, college educated woman with 20 years of working experience who simply chooses not to work because she is collecting permanent alimony. She doesn’t want to remarry either as not to lose the alimony. Knowing I have to pay until I die is a source of grief and hopelessness for me. I know I can never retire. There is no reason for this state of affairs. What’s worse is that the law in Florida has changed about permanent alimony but is not retroactive for those who settled before July of 2011. Something is very wrong with our laws.

By J Kelapire on 2012 02 05, 3:33 pm CDT

@Florida Attorney. I do indeed see and know the connections. If this is indeed the case, which it appears to be, Florida is nothing more than a Banana Republic and not a Democracy. Greed is a powerful force. We have studied major world wars throughout history that stemmed from greed. The people have a lot of work to do to confront these atrocities in our state government. Passivity and accepting the status quo is not the answer.

By Debbie Israel on 2012 02 05, 3:38 pm CDT

This has got to change people are suffering terribly just to make ends meet.

By john felten on 2012 02 05, 4:31 pm CDT

Debbie, its not just Florida, but our country.  No one running on a reform platform can get backing from either the Democrats or Republicans and therefore cannot win, and both political parties are controlled by a small group.  Of course, that was fine as long as I was a member of one of those groups.  In the legislature, you must go along with your party or you are put into a closet and no one would dare vote for anything you propose.  Check out Mike Fasano, who dared to raise objections to privatization of prisons. (I wonder who is spreading around those contributions.)  I have many attorney friends who are fine people, but there is a group who are very active and who make their living by litigation of issues and do whatever they can to influence votes to ensure conflict, hence, litigation.  I admire their intellect and chuckle at their chutzpa.  It is the legislators who I hope can be more statesmanlike, more like judges, doing what is best for the people, looking out for those who cannot defend themselves. I pray that enough of them tell their family law buddies that I’d like to help, but this law just hurts too many people.

By Gilbert on 2012 02 05, 4:46 pm CDT

It’s just amazing how all of these comments are written by people who are suffering from these STUPID laws and the florida bar can gut the bills!  The legislators are NOT working for their constitiuents and Floridians need to go to the polls and VOTE them out!

By Mary on 2012 02 05, 4:46 pm CDT

Comment removed by moderator.

By Bill Board on 2012 02 05, 7:50 pm CDT

Frankly the law in Florida needs to be reformed. I am a lifetime alimony payer to a woman who is drawing disability due to complications from alcholism. (mental problems) I raised her two children with no child support. I ended up giving her the house, carrying the mortgage in my name and paying her alimony forever. Really! I dont have a problem with alimony, for specific durations and purposes, but I will always be tied to this woman for a 16 year marriage- I will probably live to pay this woman for double the length of the marriage. I feel like a person who commited a crime. When all I did was get sick and tired of DUI’S, her jail visits and constantly being Baker acted. This law needs to be changed and updated, period.

By Del G on 2012 02 05, 8:27 pm CDT

My story started in 2006.  My then wife and I had enjoyed what we knew to be a wave of increased and temporary income.  When we were notified that the contract would be ending, that was a trigger for her to convince me to move to Florida to be near the beaches and look for more work in Tampa.  Before we moved she announced the divorce.  My declining health and declining income was “too much for her”.  “I worked too many hours and made too little money”.  I was working many hours to keep the family afloat.  I should have seen it coming but I was busy trying to continue to bring income into my home.  I had no Idea of the injustice that exists in Florida family courts.  Six months to the day after moving to Tampa she filed for divorce.  Which was fine if the courts were fair?  Separated in another state in 06’, divorce was final in 09’ when she was awarded temporary alimony of 27%.  She is demanding 50% of my income.  I should have been smart and not tried so hard to find a job.  I did secure a very stressful job.  In 07’ she ups and moves to NC right after she filed for divorce.  I left as well to help attend to a dying parent in Ga. Early in 2010 I did get a job and have been paying alimony on time every time since.  My salary of $110. To her is laughable.  She still wants 50%.  She got more than 90% of household property and her 50% of the small retirement.  She also wants one million in life insurance and her legal fees paid.  The stress has been unbearable.  The last hearing was in Dec of 2010.  Thirteen months of waiting for our magistrate to make his decision.  Thirteen months of fear, anxiety, and further decline in health. This form of justice seems like cruel and unusual punishment for a man who has tried to live life with integrity.  Now 60 years old I realize that she likely will get lifetime alimony, meaning that I will never be able to retire.  She will get close to what I get in social security and then get much of my checks.  Where is the logic?  If she had been a good wife we would have shared a large amount of retirement savings.  Instead it was spend spend spend.  Constant grief about my desire to keep her vacations down to maybe 2 a year and not every few months.  She vacationed without me as I was WORKING@!  Why am I being punished for being as good of a husband as I could be? 

I am very near the end of my rope.  Emotionally and mentally I don’t have much left.  She claims to not be working.  LIE she has been running multiple internet businesses even while we were married.  This was proven in court and the judge just ignored it.  He states that the wife does not wish to work or be trained to work.  Ha-ha Laughs on me.  She claimed to have only made $500 in profit but one subpoena showed a $15,000 for one year.  She has 5 internet businesses.  Her testimony was that all of the inventory she had cost her $2000.00.  How she was not punished for being caught in many lies.  One of her internet businesses was feature on Martha Stewart weddings in Sept of 2011.  She has bullied my two grown children into having no contact with me.  One does call and visit, but she begs me not to allow her mother to find out! 

I pray that the law makers are listening to our pleas.  Please help!  The suffering has gone on too long.  We need a limit on how much and for how long alimony is awarded.  Please do what is the right thing to do and not based on the politics of greedy lawyers.

By Joe on 2012 02 05, 8:37 pm CDT

Debbie Israel, I’m following you on twitter.  Thank you ABA for continuing to keep the discussion up on alimony. 

Although I am totally thankful for FAR and all that they do, it seems that there is nowhere to communicate with other FAR members and unite to abolish these laws.  Victims are left alone as far as I know.  We may have a lot to offer in way to conquer these inhumane laws.  This is about human rights and financial equality. 

I see a lot of woman haters on the comment pages.  I am a woman and a victim.  I am offended by the stereotype that all women are alimony pigs.  We are not!  We are being victimized too, and our children, our parents and our other family members who can never depend on us financially.  As there are true alimony pigs (male and female) draining resources for their desire to never work or at least not be honest about it.  Guess this is the new have and have not’s.  Those who give alimony and those who receive.  The actual payer is joined by all that love them, their wives, girlfriends, children of second marriage, aging parents.  They all are being deprived.  This also is not just a Florida problem.  I have never lived in Florida, but my income, my privacy are being plundered by lawyers and alimony pigs in the Florida Family Courtroom.

By gapippa on 2012 02 05, 9:30 pm CDT

To all:
After reading Bill Board’s comment, I looked into Ms Roy’s website. I came across a review posted by one of her clients in November of last year. Here it is:
Posted by a Consumer on 11/04/11
1.8 out of 5.0
“Due to her unresponsiveness, I pretty much completed a proposal for my ex-spouse. She simply reviewed it and then charged me the hours it “would have” taken for her to do it. She barely made any changes to my work and I got a bill for $4900! ” (He did not sign his name to the review)
Report abuse
Overall Client Rating
in Family Law

I guess Ms Roy, who is only 38 years old, has been so busy twisting the arms of the Florida legislative committees on alimony reform, that she does not have “time” for her paying clients.
I"m thinking its because its more important for her to railroad the proposed reform bills and even strenthen the current family laws in favor of the alimony receiver, so that she and other family law attorneys will continue to have a flow of clients seeking to divorce or modify their alimony…....easy money! If I were that client, I would have reported her to her bosses and the Florida Bar. Oh, I forgot, they wouldn’t have sanctioned her because they are all in this together. What was I thinking?

By 2ndwife on 2012 02 05, 11:11 pm CDT

I told you guys yrs ago get rid of the word Permanent..then start from there with the power brokers…3-5 yrs should have been pushed with these people..the current bill has to much wiggle room as we now know..and will be manipulated by those anti-reform power brokers in a way that creates more chaos for those now suffering from lifetime punishment…this is now becoming dangerous and I suggest as I have for yrs..you better get more aggresive..in the box gets you no where..JMHO…walshie

By Dan Walsh (walshie) on 2012 02 06, 6:53 am CDT

I am 70 years old, a Fellow of the American College of Physicians, a Fellow of the American College of Cardiology, live in Florida , and I have practiced Cardiology for 40 years.  I am currently working full time in our Veterans Administration as a Cardiologist .
17 years ago, my wife of 14 years divorced me because of decreased income and child support and permanent periodic alimony awards totaling $6500 monthly were awarded using an imputed income.  5 years ago, child support terminated and I requested modification of the alimony at my full retirement age of 65 years 8 months.  That request has not been finalized by the Family Court after 5 Hearings and 1 appeal.  Another Final Hearing has been scheduled for July of this year, 5 years after I filed for modification.;  legal fees for this action so far exceed $30,000, total legal fees for all divorce litigation are now well in excess of $100,000 and I have paid over $800,000. for support of the family over the 17 year period.
I have continued to pay monthly permanent periodic alimony payments for 17 years,
including the 15 months that custody of 2 minor children was returned to me while my ex
wife was in State prison for drug charges and parole violation.  I have not been able to
accumulate enough assets for a comfortable retirement with my wife.
The current statutes in Florida specifically exclude retroactive effects of the recent revisions in the alimony law in 2010 and 2011, thus, the ongoing bondage of permanent alimony could well be the fate of many honest, law abiding, tax paying citizens as it seems to be for me so far.  Legislation which does allow allow for retroactive enforcement with reasonable guidelines for equity to all parties is desparately needed in Florida and other States.
My wife has been intimately involved with this nightmare for the past 14 years and continues with these thoughts:

Patricia Schang:
When we married, we were 56 years old and my husband was being held responsible by the
Family Court for child support for his children and permanent alimony for his ex wife of
$6500 per month with an imputed income of over twice his actual income.  The marriage was only 14 years in duration when she filed for the divorce.
During the next 5 years, my income exceeded his contribution to our household
income and he struggled to increase his income by improving his credentials with extra
training and education. He was finally certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine
in Internal Medicine and Cardiology and then attained the imputed income level so we could
pay full payments.
I retired at age 65 and he tried to but has not been able to finalize the award of permanent
alimony that he wouldn’t even be responsible for if he was divorced today as his marriage
was only 14 years old when his ex wife filed for the divorce.  She also was indicted for drug
possession, violated parole and was sent to State Prison for 15 months in 2007, with
custody of 2 minor children returned to my husband and then returned to his ex wife when
she was released from incarceration.  The Court did insist that he continue to pay alimony
regularly throughout her incarceration he is still paying permanent periodic alimony at age
70. 
The ongoing legal fees are tremendous and psychological strain of trying to deal with the
vindictive ex wife and hostile children of that marriage a very negative factor in our
serenity. We do persevere with our responsibilities and have faith in our God and the legal
system that we will be relieved of this burden.

By Steven J Schang, Jr, MD, FACP, FACC on 2012 02 06, 8:12 am CDT

Thank you for bringing this subject to light for the whole world to see how Permanent Lifetime Alimony destroys lives even years after the divorce. This was a law that was established for a positive reason many years ago. Now, women and men are just as equal in the workplace as ever before and many see Permanent Alimony as a free meal ticket or second retirement. I pay lifetime alimony thanks to the great State of SC. With no children involved the judge used our house as a “child” and a reason to award lifetime alimony. The judge was asked to look at each persons income since my ex-spouse was making more than me at the time and still no justice. I am reluctant to persue a change in alimony status due to SC being notorious for increasing alimony due to wasting the courts time and resources with this matter. The State of FL is no different and there is a chance to get this law changed in FL within the next few weeks. This would set a precedence for other States to follow if changed. Thus, it is very important that all take a stance NOW and contact their lawmakers to get this changed in FL. We need to show up in mass force during the legislative sesson and let our voices be heard. It was the legal system that established this law and so they will fight tooth and nail to keep it intact. It is a money maker for the State and Federal goverments in tax revenue and various attorney fees. It all comes down to MONEY folks and there is no justice in that. This law is outdated and causes law abiding citizens to be classified as outlaws in the end. After 23 years of honorable service in the military and fighting in numerous conflicts around the world I will be classified a criminal when I refuse to pay my ex-spouse permanent alimony. She is perfectly healthy, residing with another, and getting her house payments made thanks to “broken and greedy” court system. It is time to draw the line and say enough is enough people. This has got to stop now before more we all become criminals. I hope the lawmakers in FL with do the right thing and change the alimony law for a positive and not a negative purpose.

By RCsc on 2012 02 06, 9:10 am CDT

I agree 100%. My childrens mother, after 19 years, left the home and demanded alimony when she had a very good long term job. I disagree with me paying alimony to her for the rest of my life. I believe that most people would want to live their own life with their own money. Florida law actually promotes divorce. I really believe that there will be fewer divorces when the laws change.

By Mike on 2012 02 06, 10:22 am CDT

To all those in Florida that are trying to change the alimony statutes:  Study the legislators who are in the committees that the Bills are going through. Then lobby those members that are against alimony reform to influence their votes. For example, Senator Flores, an attorney that happens to be the Chair of the Senate Judiciary, filed an Amendment to the Senate Bill which takes away much of the original text of the Bill. That Amendment tells you where that particular legislator stands.

By Florida Attorney on 2012 02 06, 12:23 pm CDT

I Just read the proposed admendment to the orginal bill that now sits in commitee. All it did was bascially delete all the proposed legislation and change the name of permant alimony to long term alimony-it left all the other old laws information in it. No change!

By Del G on 2012 02 06, 6:31 pm CDT

Thanks for educating your readers about alimony. “Till death do us part” only applies to permanent alimony! In Florida, the death of one of the parties is the only way permanent alimony ends. Ironically it is often the payee that cheats and or files for divorce, after all they have had plenty of free time while the breadwinner was off working to support the household. Many spouses that collect permanent alimony refused to work or educate themselves during their marriage even when there were no children or grown children. For that they are rewarded with lifetime payments from the person that supported them throughout the marriage.
The payee is free to work and often times lives in a supportive relationship with a household income that exceeds the payer’s. The payee is reluctant to remarry as it would end their alimony. The cost to prove that the payee is working under the table or living in a supportive relationship is astronomical and few cases are ever won. The payer is hesitant to remarry as the income and assets of the new spouse may send the payee back to court for an increase in their awards. Even when the payer looses a job or has a decrease in income, they are told by the judges to get second jobs or face jail.
Florida alimony laws are outdated and unrealistic. Couples go through years of legal battles and spend thousands of dollars trying to either increase, decrease or end their alimony. The only winners in these legal battles are the attorneys who reap the financial rewards of a broken system. Children both young and adult are put in the middle of horrific turmoil and confusion, often being pitted against one parent or the other. Families are forever broken over alimony, neither spouse can really ever move on with life!
If this all sounds absurd, that’s because it is!
A change in Florida’s alimony laws is long overdue!
Thanks,

By JD on 2012 02 06, 7:26 pm CDT

In Florida, right now a woman in her early 40’s, in a “long-term” marriage, is virtually guaranteed permanent alimony.  Her ability to work and better herself is not an issue.  This is not an aberration.  This is not due to bad lawyering. 
Alimony in many cases is necessary.  Permanent or long-term alimony is neither necessary in most cases or fair to the paying party.  What is fair to the children and the couple is a general legal framework that both parties can understand and thereby make decisions.  This framework should describe the amount and duration of alimony that one can expect based upon the length of a marriage.  Phrases like “up to x amount” can be used to give the discretion that many feel the judges should have. 
Currently, child support is a calculation that most payors have few issues with.  Alimony should be made that predictable as well.  This would leave only the issue of co-parenting as the only other major issue to be dealt with by divorcing couples. 
The battle to simplify an already excrucating process is an uphill one because those feeding on the carcass of a dead marriage are loath to loosen their jaws when reward is $350.00/hour.

By Inthethickofit on 2012 02 06, 10:05 pm CDT

If Senator Flores is a family law attorney, (2009 Family Law Attorney of the Year) who would personally gain from the issue, is not her voting a conflict of interest?

By Gilbert on 2012 02 06, 10:53 pm CDT

The ABA will either be part of the problem or part of the solution. The tide is turning and the time is now.

Lifetime/longterm alimony for able bodied adults with life expectancies into the 80’s and no compunction to remarry is just an irresistible “win the lottery” bonanza of a jackpot for the lazier, less economically successful spouse. Too many lawyers have made too much money on alimony fights and left too little resources for the breadwinner to recover. The ABA can take a leadership role on fairness for the payor.  Or the ABA can just ignore the carnage.

The legislation will be filed, and then re-filed until it passes, no matter how much obstruction or interference divorce lawyers wield. It is a mandate of the people.

The ABA can be part of the process. Or the people can just go ahead and not only disallow punitive alimony, but add true regulation on out-of-control lawyers.

The people should not just stop at alimony reform. If the legal profession cannot resist shaking down the breadwinner - price controls should emerge as well. Legal fees should be capped at “usual, customary and reasonable” rates - just like doctors’ medicare fees.

There should be “DRG"s - diagnosis related groups for each type of courtroom contest.  The medical profession has 500+ DRGs for all types of hospitalizations. The legal profession can just as easily come up with DRG’s for divorce lawsuits. Each DRG is only worth so many dollars. If the patient lingers too long in the hospital - or the case lingers too long in the courtroom - no one gets paid any extra.

It is time to take back your rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The grassroots alimony reform movements will ultimately prevail. It is the legal profession that may never recover.

By localmd on 2012 02 06, 11:13 pm CDT

Lawyers continue to be the problem.  They make money from the heartache of their clients, promising relief until the check clears, then a sudden “I cannot promise that your alimony can be adjusted to your income”  So we payors of alimony sell our proceeds of the divorce to keep paying the LOTTERY WINDFALL to lazy exes who will never remarry or get a job!
Why anyone is getting married in Florida or New Jersey is beyond me….

By Dollar Bill on 2012 02 07, 12:01 am CDT

Unfortunately, the lawyers and Florida Bar are winning the battle to leave it up to the judges. SB748 has been rewritten to do away with “Permanent” alimony by renaming it to “Long Term”. This is not reform, it is rewording to make the public feel like reform occured but Judges in Florida work to keep the divorced people in the system and battling in courts so lawyers can reap the benefits. More money goes to lawyers than is paid in alimony and that is why we have permanent/long term alimony.

I divorced 11 years ago due to my ex moving her boyfriend into our marital home. The ex and boy friend of 13 years still live in that home. In 2007 I tried to terminate alimony due to cohabitation but the judge read the part of the 2005 change in the law, “May reduce or terminate”, and reduced it in half. Even half the previous alimony is a drain on my financial situation not to mention that my current wife’s income was used to keep alimony going. Not just reform but drastic reform is needed and the Florida Bar should be excluded when looking at the reform since they have a conflict of interest and a huge financial interest in the reform.

By KHoot on 2012 02 07, 9:26 am CDT

My previous comment (#38) re Elisha Roy and Rhonda Storms was deleted by the moderator. Just to let you know.

By Bill Board on 2012 02 07, 9:47 am CDT

The whole process is insane! in the lawyers are all crooks..

By Lag on 2012 02 07, 3:09 pm CDT

The whole process is insane! the lawyers are the crooks here people,,,,

By Lag on 2012 02 07, 3:12 pm CDT

No where else in law, does a lawyer continue to make money off a client after a year or two. Once a lawsuit or criminal offense is settled, the lawyer’s gravy train is over for that person/case. In Family law involving alimony, the lawyer can make money off the parites for many years. That is a direct conflict. It would be like a doctor only partially healing you just so you have to go back year after year for supplemental treatments. If a doctor did this, they would be sued for malpractice. Lawyers should be barred from the law making process when they are directly benefiting from the process.

By KHoot on 2012 02 07, 3:36 pm CDT

I am very concerned about #38 being deleted by moderator unless for some reason it is not true.  I was very interested in the activities of Ms Roy.  It does to me seem like it is a conflict of interest for the very law makers to be profiting by not improving the laws.  Maybe this is why none of the receivers of alimony are commenting.  They know that Elisha Roy and Rhonda Storms are on their sides.lol This stunk a couple of days ago, but now it is totally suspicious that the moderator is editing the truth.  This was more alarming than the facts that were in #38.

Bill Board Please repost the information.

By gapippa on 2012 02 07, 6:24 pm CDT

If it is true that Ms Roy is personally profiting off of the current laws, then she is personally putting her hand in my pocket.  That is corrupt as it gets.  I really hope this is not just ignored.

By Joe on 2012 02 07, 6:30 pm CDT

Alimony is not a bad thing and is warranted in many cases. The problem is that current alimony laws fail to uphold the ideals that have been fought for in this country since our very existence.
•  Alimony laws do not equally consider the rights and responsibilities of both people.
•  Alimony laws allow judges to make assumptions that are not considered fact.
•  Alimony laws do require one person to serve the other for life, while reaping no current benefit.
•  Alimony laws assume that the economic benefit of the marriage was the only benefit.
•  Alimony laws do not prioritize the needs of the children over that of the ex-spouse.
•  Alimony laws do not consider automatically considers either parties ongoing and current needs or ability to earn. 
•  Alimony laws do not consider the loss of economic value to the payer such as the need for child care, the loss of income that may occur as a result of being a single parent.
•  The entire process requires that someone has enough money to fight the issue in court. A person can be right and still go bankrupt just to achieve the right to survive.
•  A person who has never committed a crime or done anything wrong can go to jail.
•  If my spouse (the wagon wheel maker) starts to see her income going down because no one buys wagon wheels any longer, I can divorce her and the laws will require she provide me with a lifestyle similar to that of our marriage, making it more advantageous for me to divorce. If she doesn’t pay, she will go to jail. The judge knows nothing and is not required to know anything about the wagon wheel industry and no one has use for a 50 year old ex-wagon wheel maker.
The idea that “you are more responsible for supporting me than I am” is hard to grasp. One comment provides an example of a Harvard graduate who quit her job to raise kids. It states that her current earnings capability is $50,000 and her husband’s is $1 million. Is it fair to assume that she, armed with a degree from Harvard, will be able to earn more with experience? Is it also fair to say that she should be expected to work and earn to her greatest potential with alimony being only a supplement to get her to that point? Is it fair that she refuse to take responsibility for her own livelihood because he makes more?
It is impossible to legislate fairness. While we hear stories of how bad one person was in a marriage, we never know the entire story, we typically only know how it ended. For this reason, no-fault divorce is common.  For the same reason, alimony cannot be punitive. Without a fair trial, the information needed to punish does not exist. Both parties must be considered equally, not just at the time of the divorce but until the need for alimony no longer exist.
The burden of proof that there is a continued discrepancy between a person’s need and earnings potential should be on the person receiving alimony. The process should standard, simple and free. The person paying alimony should not be bound for life. The payer’s current need and ability to earn should always be a key factor.
One person (a judge) should never be able to bind someone for life based on his own discretion. An individual should not have to gamble everything just to remain a free person. Alimony should never provide a burden that would not have existed if the two people remained married.

By Divorced Dad on 2012 02 08, 9:20 am CDT

It seems that we need a new system of checks and balances for the legal profession. I just called the Florida Bar to ask if there were any complaints about a particular attorney (gave the Bar Number and everything) that I know for a fact had multiple complaints. I was told there were none. With the legislators as part of the Bar or feel they have to answer to the Bar, it is like the fox watching the hen house.

This is an extremely serious problem that can’t be ignored.

We need not only to unite for alimony reform, but for reform of checks and balances in general. Most of us walk around ignorant to just how corrupt our system is. We don’t realize it until we try to change an unjust law and are up against resistance. Most people feel alimony reform is a no brainer, yet we are up against a force that is clearly unethical unethical and borders on unconstitutional.

There is a lot of work to be done. If we just accept the status quo, we are part of the problem. The founding fathers are appalled.

By Debbie Israel on 2012 02 08, 11:34 am CDT

You haven’t changed a thing until you control the lawyers.  That is who wins every time.  And they know and we all know there is no way to control them.  So, then, it seems, what FAR is trying to do is be-friend them by making more work for them.

From everything that I have read here and elsewhere, these changes to alimony will only increase the the pay dirt for the the attorneys and the stress on the legal system.  If you think you wait a long time now for resolution - wait until this stuff goes through!  2-3 years is the average time it takes in FL for a divorce—okay let’s make bad reform bills and increase that to 5 to 6!  And now we are invited to re-open cases that are resolved.  Let’s clog the system even more and give the lawyers a bonus since we all know even they are hurting in this economy.  (Well that will certainly make us some friends in the legal field, then we can be one of them!!) 

Some things remain true: income is rarely equal, one spouse often needs support and has earned it, each case is individual; one spouse often gives up income and social security earnings to raise children.  And please do not kid yourself - there is still not equality pay between men and women.  Women DO NOT surpass men in education, occupation and income.  A stay-at-home dad typically has a better chance of recovering income quicker than a stay-at-home mom.  Not in my case.

I am a man.  I receive alimony and I deserve it.

Perhaps we should begin marriage as a business partnership since so many of them end this way.  My alimony is EQUAL to what I earned in the years I stayed home to support her career and take care of our children, one of whom is disabled.  She walked away—you think she shouldn’t support us?  She makes 5 times what I can make and takes NO responsibility for our children.  Except she pays the alimony and child support.

I do NOT agree with the idea that I could get a higher reward if she remarried, that is just plain slimy - unless she wasn’t paying her initial obligation…  then I might fight her.  But she is willing to recognize my contribution (I am blown away when men do not get what a stay-at-home mom gives to the family and children!) and her failure and she supports us.

Wondering about how many of the 2nd wives and 2nd husbands and those fearful of marrying actually waited for the first spouse to be FREE before they imposed themselves on the first marriage??

PS there is NOT a 90% approval rating for alimony reform - there is a DEEP bias in the polling.

If you want change you need to review the divorce PROCESS and the use of tactics that allow for the spouse with more money and more earning power to continue to litigate or abuse the discovery process to run down the savings of another, and thereby fill the coffers of lawyers.

If you don’t want to go through life with someone, perhaps you should never VOW to do so.  But once you VOW it then man-up, woman-up and do what you you should do - support them.

These laws exist because there was so much abuse previously.  The courts had to help the financial victims and they have done a good job of it.  It is difficult to see balance when none is presented.  Those who argue for reform simply have forgotten the plight of so very many.  The stories told here are not the norm!  And are only half the story!

I am a man.  I receive alimony and I deserve it.  I earned it. Most stay at homes do!

By StayHomePapa on 2012 02 09, 11:10 pm CDT

Comment removed by moderator.

By bethcasey on 2012 02 09, 11:12 pm CDT

The problem with articles about alimony IN GENERAL is that alimony is very specific to each state. That said, it must also be said that FLorida, NJ, and Mass., until March 1, when its new laws take effect, have alimony laws that are extreme, barbaric, and out of keeping with most other states and most other planets.  The idea that lifetime/permanent alimony is something ordinary is simply NOT TRUE.  It remains in a number of truly backward states where bar associations have a stranglehold on the legislature. Most states in the country do not have laws like these.  So, please let’s get over how necessary and fair permanent lifetime alimony is. It is neither and most states, and most civilized people, agree with that.

To STAYat HOME PAPA, NO ONE, least of all me thinks you shouldn’t get alimony and C/s. The question is should you get it from this woman until the day you die? Should you get it at the same level if she loses her job and her income is decimated? WOuld you like her to go to jail if she can’t pay her alimony? THAT is what happens in FL, NJ, and MA when people can’t pay their alimony. IT’s not uncommon.  Should you and she be forced to return to divorce court again and again and again throughout your lives, whenever you circumstances change? I don’t think that’s fair to anyone, except the darling needy lawyers, who NEED a very great deal, don’t they?

Last but not least, all the reform bills WANT alimony for those who need it for a limited period of time - up to 60% of the length of the marriage, in addition to marital assets, pension, part of Social security. NO ONE thinks that alimony should not exist.

Finally, Stay at Home Papa, I know you’re upset, but PLEASE do not make ad hominum attacks on those of us who fell in love with people who were forced to pay lifetime alimony. Please DO NOT assume we broke up marriages, OK?  THere is NO need to go there, OK?  It is childish and beneath you to make such catty assumptions. 

I have a lot of sympathy for you and your situation, and I think you should be getting support. But I don’t think it should last FOREVER AND EVER AND EVER and the payer should have NO RIGHT EVER TO RETIRE.  And I don’t think you should give lawyers the right to force you to keep going back to court whenever you circumstances change. THA"TS what permanent lifetime alimony laws do to people and their families. No wonder the lawyers are fighting so hard to keep them in those few unlucky states where they still exist, after the rest of the world has joined the modern age.

By lizzie8484 on 2012 02 09, 11:34 pm CDT

If government and the judicial system are going to be involved in peoples personal and financial lives then lets take it seriously and do what were paid to do; look at the facts and JUDGE equally.  Both sides of a divorce deserve a life after matrimony.

By john felten on 2012 02 10, 8:03 am CDT

Why are we not looking at both sides with equal unbiased compassion?

By Susan Felten on 2012 02 10, 8:07 am CDT

To Stay at Home Pappa: It sounds to me that you are right where you want to be - home with your children. This is every mother’s dream, but in reality, has not been the “norm” for many decades. Unless you are independently wealthy or have worked very hard and become successful in today’s world, it takes both parents to support their families today. That being said, you admit you get alimony and child support and if you have a disabled child, I suspect you are getting SSDI as well. You and your children are being taken care of courteousy of the Florida court system, and the generousity of an ex-spouse who makes five times more than you can earn. That’s great! You have nothing to complain about.  But, I suspect you are afraid if the proposed reform takes place as it did in Massachusetts, you will see an end to your support as your children’s child support comes to an end. Then what? You will have to get a job to support yourself, and why shouldn’t you support yourself? You stay-at-home mamas and papas think you are deserving of alimony because you claim you gave up your own careers in doing so, and therefore, cannot take care of yourselves.IT WAS YOUR CHOICE! You think you are some kind of super-hero for doing so over another working man or woman who has a family? They are the real heroes, as they work and then come home to all the responsibilities you have, after they have put in eight or more hours on the job. So grow-up, Papa, because change is coming. One more thing: I met my husband way after his divorce. He left his alcoholic, drug abusing, physically abusive wife after 25 years when their only child reached adulthood. He only stayed in the marriage to protect his child until she was on her own. His ex does not work because she doesn’t have to…she gets a welfare check every month from my husband until one of them dies, and don’t think for one minute that he is rich. He had to give up his health insuance in order to continue paying her alimony, and he has health problems that must be monitored in order to continue getting his prescriptions for diabetes and heart problems. She is 12 years younger than he is. He tried to modify his alimony when he retired a few years ago, but the judge said there was no substantial change in circumstance and he had remarried. (2nd wife’s income). Where is the fairness in that judgement? These reforms will address both issues and bring fairness to the antiquated alimony laws in Florida. I’m telling the absolute truth, just leaving out the details of a horrible 25 year marriage. These stories are real whether you choose to believe them or not.

By 2ndwife on 2012 02 10, 10:41 am CDT

Enough is enough. Stop permanent alimony!

By Blake Wales on 2012 02 10, 11:09 am CDT

If this amendment is to past House and Senate next ,it must be reformed. We do not need judges to have discreation over time frame of alimony and assets. We the people who are going threw a divorce and other who been divorced for just a short time or longer have our lifes on the line. Do away with alimony all together. It’s the right thing to do.

By Chris on 2012 02 10, 11:43 am CDT

The ABA should take a leadership role in alimony reform.

t should be self evident and obvious that:

1. All payors have a natural end to their working career. Either the payor gets too old/disabled to work, the job goes away, or the payor reaches retirement age. If the payor no longer works for him/herself, then the payor should no longer work to support the recipient. Retirement should be the end of working for anyone, including alimony recipients.

2. If you are low income and live in public housing, your “friend” can co-habit for THREE WEEKS. Then your “friend” has to kick in 30% of his/her income as rent. Why should wealthier divorcees be treated better? Adults should have adult responsibilities. Why should the “friend” live rent-free in a divorce’s house, when the friend would have to pay to co-habit in public housing? The co-habitating “friend” should reimburse the alimony payor up to 30% of his/her income or alimony should just end with co-habitation.

3. At his/her 62nd birthday, the recipient can collect 1/2 of the payor’s social security. The alimony payment should automatically be reduced by that amount without requiring a modification.

The above are “No-Brainers” to enact. It is time for the ABA to step up to the plate and least take a stand on the above. This should be the first step towards ending the infringement upon the civil liberty of alimony payors.

By localmd on 2012 02 11, 12:40 pm CDT

OMG, really!  It takes the creativity out of lawyering.  I have met some of these creative lawyers!  Creative!  Yes they are very creative on the billable time. So this is what this is about, whether or not a lawyer gets to be creative.  There is not much mention of the lives of the people behind these divorces. 

Oh yeah, don’t forget this comment “Gold-Bikin has observed a general hostility toward the idea of alimony, but she says it should be considered “compensation to those who sacrificed their life to stay home and raise the kids.”  Really and who is going to compensate the breadwinner who worked 60 hours a week to allow someone to stay home with the kids. 

I married and divorced in Georgia.  I stayed home with the kids. If alimony is “compensation for staying home with the kids” then why does it end upon remarriage?  Shouldn’t the compensation still be due?  Splitting all assets isn’t enough? 

There are lives involved here!  The law does not encourage either party to go on with their lives.  In fact their lives and the lives of all around become an emotional and financial train wreck.  The only winners are the lawyers who have been creative with their billable hour.

My husband and his ex-have spent 6 years in court.  That is insane!  The ex’s attorney convinced her that she will, after receiving half of everything, also get half of his gross income for the rest of his life.  So settling out of court was out of the question.  In fact would be suicide.  So 6 years and near $200,000 later there still has not been a final decision of permanent periodic alimony.  His family was quit wounded when they split.  Two grown daughter have been going through this with them as well as parents.  My husband’s parents have both passed during these 6 years and were very emotional about the deviation.  The grown daughters were not allowed by the ex to attend their grandparent’s funeral.  One of the grown daughters does talk to her dad and has visited a few times, but he has to keep it secret.  Imagine being that father who has to carry on a secret relationship with his own daughter.  The other daughter is totally estranged from her father.  She is a law student who has been told that her mother should receive 50% of her father’s gross income for the rest of his life.  She is angry that he did not sign an agreement that would be non-modifiable for $73,000 out of his $110,000 per year.  She would only believe this after hearing it from her mother’s attorney.  She had planned on being able to be supported while she was in law school.  Oh and by the way her father paid cash for her master’s degree at Berkley in California. Oh yes they also want a million dollar life insurance policy on a 59 year old man with diabetes.  Really?  Guess he should sleep under a bridge.

I watched the most recent Senate Judiciary Committee.  The only person who showed up against these changes was someone who felt that the changes would result in more work for the courts.  Can’t have that can we.  There were NO alimony receivers there to protect their compensation. Why?  Even they know how their ex is struggling just to survive. 

Also there was discussion about the ability to bring up adultery in the event family assets were used to pursue the relationship.  OK then what about any other addiction that drains the family’s assets.  Such as drugs, gambling, shopping, dui’s, criminal activity?  Shouldn’t the innocent party get compensation for the costs of these activities and punitive awards for putting up with it? 

How about this one:  “Gold-Bikin recalls the case of the Harvard Business School grad who gave up her career to put her husband through medical school. Two dozen years, four kids and multiple affairs by her husband later, the marriage fell apart. The wife makes about $50,000; the husband, $1 million. Gold-Bikin says there’s no question the wife deserves alimony.”  These situations are very rare but pay attention to the fact that # 1.  She chose to give up her career to put her husband through medical school.  Nice lady.  But unless there was a contract to compensate her at a later date, then it was not a smart thing to do.  Can the state now compensate her for this gift?  OK 4 kids with a man who was having affairs.  This was her choice again.  She could have stopped at one child.  But 4 kids bring in more child support.  When you bring in the “multiple affairs” you are trying to turn this into punitive alimony.  I thought Florida was a not fault state. By the way you can leave after the first affair.  Also why are victims of domestic violence not compensated for their pain and suffering.  This is because they are usually too afraid to ask for it.  Alimony if far less likely to happen when there has been domestic violence because of the fear factor.  They do get child support because it is the law and there are guidelines.

I believe if there has be a felony conviction in or after the marriage is dissolved then they have forfeited their right to alimony, as this is a great predictor of the atmosphere during the marriage.

This new law should set guidelines regarding amounts and duration for alimony.
This will make it easier for the most needy to get alimony with less fear for retaliation.

This is about people’s lives here.  Not how the policies will affect the legal community and affects their billable hours.

The original bill would be a huge relief to many payers and an adjustment for many receivers.  The law is written so that they will have time to plan for this adjustment as well.

There is no reason at all that alimony should cut into income and assets of someone who has never played a role in the marriage.  That is just wrong!  The receiver has the right to date and move on.

There is not good reason that alimony should double dip into the payers retirement years.  Enough is enough.

With these guidelines the parties can plan for a more predictable financial future without fear of constant appearances in court and more legal fees.

Please bring logic to this decision.  Pay more attention to the lives that you will be affecting and potentially saving. 

FAR is not about eliminating alimony.  They are for eliminating the horror stories like the ones featured on their site floridaalimonyreform.com.

This is a human rights dilemma.  It should not be a political dilemma.

By gapippa on 2012 02 13, 3:25 am CDT

I like GAPIPA comment on adultry and draining assets, if that is a qualification then the other events like dui’s drug addictions imprisonment etc should be mitgating factors as well, enough of us have delt with these events and been told, too bad at the divorce table that was your problem. I paid for 2 dui’s that my ex gave to our family, paid the fines, the higher insurance rates and lived with driving her to and from work everyday due to her actions. She wrote hot checks-who paid-me. She went to jail, who had to work and take care of HER grls when she was incarcerated? Me. Funny when I said enough was enough I got the bill then too! Lifetime alimony and 1/3 of my military retirement for being a productive law abiding citizen. This is a screwed up law and needs to reformed.

By Del G on 2012 02 13, 5:47 am CDT

The Bikin-Gold example is UNREAL - the harvard MBA mom worth 50K annually and the million dollar earning MD is hard to believe as a 2012 story. First of all, new Harvard MBAs with no experience average $120K annually with a 20K signing bonus at their first jobs (check out the Harvard MBA web site for this one). Second of all - what MD earns $1million dollars/year!!! - MDs at their peak earn $150K to $300K on average. To earn more than average the MD is likely a surgeon extra-ordinaire, whose prowess is dependent on his fine motor skills. These skills, like any other “athletic skill” decline with age and do not last a lifetime. Should the man be socked with an alimony of 1/3 his pay ($333,000 annually) if a few years from now, his skills decline and the only job he can get is a $150K VA job? Should he be jailed and have his medical license revoked if he cannot come up with $333,000 annually in alimony?
And all those extra-marital affairs??? It is 2012 now. Seducing or imposing oneself on all those female hospital employees is NOW called sexual harassment. This behavior may have been tolerated 20 years ago. But now the doctor is considered to have all the “power” in the relationship and to have “coerced” the hospital’s employees, and is a liability to the hospital. These types of relationships are NO longer tolerated on medical staffs and he’s gonna have to keep his fly zipped or else lose his operating room privileges.
Quite frankly, it sounds like the gentleman has been busy working too hard and dallying too much and should find an easier job and spend some time with his children. Will the divorce settlement let him do that?

By localmd on 2012 02 13, 8:20 am CDT

The judge in my divorce case was the chief justice in my district.  He was not inexperienced or young.  I was married for less than 10 years, and I was ordered to pay her for the rest of my life.  I was 35 and my ex-wife was 34 when we divorced.  She does have a learning disability, but it does not prevent her from working.  She was able to study to get several medical certifications (3 before the divorce, and 2 after), plus she studied to become a licensed Realtor.  Obviously, she is capable of training for a career and supporting herself… but she chooses to sit on her back side and collect money from me instead.

The judge’s DISCRETION WAS THE PROBLEM.  Give judges guidelines… just like what already exists for child support.  The guidelines should establish durational limits, guidelines for amounts and eligibility, guidelines for what constitutes “need” and “ability to pay”, etc.

I had proof for every item on my affidavit of income and expenses.  I had no money left for alimony after paying my debts each month.  I was ordered to pay ALL of the debts from the marriage.  However, the judge somehow determined that I had the ability to pay.  He basically ordered me to go bankrupt.  Conversely, he took every cent from my ex-wife’s affidavit like it was gospel… even though she had no proof and had falsified her expenses by more than double.  The amount on her affidavit was the exact amount he determined was her “need”.  It was total BS!

Yes, I had a lawyer.  I can’t say he was a good one.  But why should I be penalized for his failure?  WE NEED GUIDELINES!!!

By Brian Reynolds on 2012 02 13, 3:50 pm CDT

Alimony reform has to happen. There is currently no consistency. Judges can’t be experts on all of the topics that must be considered. They are expected only to be experts on the law. Give them law as a tool. Ambiguity (discretion) helps no one. These laws will change sooner or later because they hurt us all. Even if you are fighting for these laws now, would you want your son or daughter to be paying lifetime alimony? For that matter, would you want your son or daughter to be on the receiving end of lifetime alimony? That can’t be a happy life. When people are encouraged not to work and told they dont have to take responsibility for their own livelihood, they slowly die.

These laws affect jobs and the appeal of the state as well. The attorneys don’t even win.  We lack higher wage jobs in Florida because our laws are so backward. We don’t do what is right for citizens in Florida. We are blatant about doing what is best for the people buying drinks at the convention. We lack big industry and high paying jobs because of these practices. If you were a CEO moving your company, would you move it to Florida? Lifetime alimony?? No Way! Sure, you may be able to buy your way to some favorable legislation but you will pay all the gains to your ex when you get a divorce!
We all pay. Even the short cited BAR. Lower income clients, fewer billable hours.
I know single moms who are not getting child support because they ran out of money and couldn’t fight. I know Single moms who lost everything fighting to keep from paying lifetime alimony. I know people who filled the court with experts only to have the judge refuse to listen.
What can be wrong with making the rules based on a collective wisdom and belief system? Let the judge deal with the hard stuff. Let families keep their money.

To C in Gainesville…..shame on you. You know judges are biased. Everyone knows judges are biased. All I ever hear is that you can’t get justice from a judge. You are shamelessly trying to protect your gravy train at the expense of families and kids. Read the book “Who Moved My Cheese”.  Fight to protect the kids. They actually need your help. They are the ones who pay the ultimate price by being raised by two miserable parents. One parent is desperate and the other who is entitled and angry because they can never get enough.

What if we told the judge and the attorneys that their number one goal is to protect the assets of the family and provide the best solution for the benefit of the kids? Would it be so bad? Would it all fall apart for the family? Really??

We have to fix this for our kids! This is a loaded gun. Do we want our kids to be enslaved for life by having to pay lifetime alimony?

By Divorced Dad on 2012 02 13, 10:01 pm CDT

#76 Divorced Dad: BRAVO! You said it perfectly.

I would simply like to add that attorneys who are coming out sayiing all is well in the divorce industry and that any bad rulings can be fixed in appelate court are out of their minds. They are assuming that the average folks have multilple thousands of dollars to gamble on an appeal.  All they are doing is protecting their status quo- their gravy train.

It really is time that the ABA start some self examination and better self regulation. There is a reason attorneys get a bad rap. A real reason.

By Elizabeth D'Amato McWilliams on 2012 02 13, 10:08 pm CDT

Divorced Dad wrote: “What if we told the judge and the attorneys that their number one goal is to protect the assets of the family and provide the best solution for the benefit of the kids? Would it be so bad? Would it all fall apart for the family? Really??”

This really moved me to make an additional comment.  When I told my ex-wife that I was finally fed up with her and wanted a divorce, I made a VERY generous offer.  I had just paid off our vehicles and credit cards.  The only debt we had was the mortgage.

At the time, houses were selling in 1-2 days for ridiculously high prices.  We could have sold the house ourselves and walked away with $200K.  I had done my research, and I predicted the peak of the market to within three months of the actual date it occurred. 

I offered for her to take the newer of the two vehicles (an 18-month-old minivan that was paid off), she could keep ALL proceeds from the sale of the house, and all the furniture (which was all purchased within a year before we filed for divorce), guideline child support ($2300/month), half of my 401(k), and half of our savings.  Plus, she had about $50K in cash stashed in a safe deposit box (un-provable by me, of course).  I told her that if she took all that money, put it in the bank, and rented a house for a few years that she could buy a house cash after the market crashed.

I was going to take my 7-year old car that had over 200K miles on it (basically worthless), my clothes, tools, computer, and my sanity.

Of course, her lawyer convinced her that she needed alimony too.  So, my offer of practically everything we owned wasn’t good enough!  I told her that if we fought it out in court, the only people who would win would be the lawyers… because everything we had would go to them.

In the end, the divorce lasted well past the crash of the housing market, so the house didn’t sell for anywhere near what it would have at the peak.  She and I ended up with practically nothing.  The lawyers took it all.  Since then, she has repeatedly told me that she wishes that she had listened to me.  If she had taken my offer and advice, she would be living mortgage-free today, and still have money in the bank.

When she says this to me, I always reply, “You never listened to me when we were married, so why would you have listened to me during our divorce?”

By Brian Reynolds on 2012 02 14, 11:13 am CDT

I suppose now that I should add… during the divorce process, I went deep into debt.  My old car started to die when it had 260,000 miles on it, so I had to buy a new one… and I had to borrow money to stay afloat during the divorce.  The temporary support order was even more insane than my permanent order, so I could not survive without borrowing money.

She didn’t pull any punches during our divorce.  She accused me of hitting her and manipulated the two older girls (whom I had adopted and raised as my own children) to accuse me of sexual abuse.  I had to hire a criminal defense lawyer on top of the divorce lawyer… and I was kept away from my kids for 8 months before I was finally allowed to see them with SUPERVISED visitation!  By the time I finally got regular, un-supervised visitation with my kids, it was everything I could do to scrape up enough money to FEED THEM FOR THE WEEKEND!

The ONLY reason I finally got to see my kids was due to the woman whom the judge ordered to investigate the whole situation.  Thank GOD she saw through my ex-wife’s manipulation!

To top it all off, the judge ordered me to have a psycho-sexual evaluation, and he ordered her to have a psychological evaluation.  I had to pay $150/hour to the quack “doctor” who evaluated me.  The guy got almost everything in his report wrong.  He quoted me as saying things that were exactly the opposite of what I said.  He even incorrectly quoted a written response that I had given him… and I had saved a copy as proof that he was wrong!  My ex refused to do her psych eval, and claimed to the judge that she couldn’t AFFORD it!  Even though she easily had $1,000/month free after paying her expenses.  The judge turned to me and asked me if I was willing to pay for HER EVALUATION!  I told him that I could barely afford to live, so he let her get away with disobeying his order!  There is no penalty for the woman in a divorce when she blatantly refuses to abide by the judge’s order… but if the man doesn’t give in to the judge’s every whim… he goes to jail!!!

If she had actually done her evaluation, maybe the judge would have found out what a nut job she really is!

By Brian Reynolds on 2012 02 14, 2:54 pm CDT

This issue is tearing my family apart.  I lost my job this year and my husband’s income went down by 36% due to the terrible economy (he is a partner in a law firm).  56% of my husband’s net pay goes to his ex-wife, who could work but who chooses not to.  Or rather, she pretends to be a real estate agent and therefore gets to do nothing, earn nothing, but present herself to the world as a working functional member of society.

We tried to get a modification and guess what?  The legal fees were killing us.  Why?  Because we have no money.  Why?  Because almost $7,000 per month goes to her.  She has a family of one, we have a family of three.  We are fighting for alimony reform here in Oregon.  This situation is so ridiculous that it would be funny, were it not so dire.

By SecondWifeisbroke on 2012 02 15, 5:04 pm CDT

The current alimony laws in FL are anti-family and anti-marriage. I urge our legislators to support HB 549 and SB 748.

By Carey on 2012 02 17, 6:37 pm CDT

Many of us hope that the ABA will step up to plate and advocate for fairness and justice for both marital partners. Trampling upon the civil rights of breadwinners should NO longer be tolerated. Some one with clout, as in YOU the ABA, need to talk to the Florida Bar and remind them that advocacy is about the litigants and NOT for lawyer’s billable hours and NOT about increasing how far apart litigants can be from compromise to inflate those billable hours. Especially when the rights given to all of us in the Bill of Rights and US Constitution are denied routinely in Family Court. Instead of being a self-serving organization for the economic benefit of lawyers, the ABA should be their moral conscience and advocate for what is right. Do not let the Florida Bar/divorce lawyers intimidate legislators into disemboweling the alimony reform bill. The reforms are reasonable, sufficiently protective of the lesser earning spouse and should be championed through

By localmd on 2012 02 18, 5:41 pm CDT

Alimony is inconsistent with no-fault divorce.  It is the creature of fault divorce and was only owing if the Husband left the marriage.  Further, divorce law eliminates any obligation except child support and alimony.  Why?  Does anyone believe that part of the marriage vow was to support the spouse after divorce.  Of course not.  For this reason, alimony should be eliminated or severly restricted.  Texas caps alimony at $2,500 and 3 years.

By Brad M. on 2012 02 20, 2:07 pm CDT

Thank you for bringing attention to this matter. Florida has and still continues to live in the past. We are a society where both individuals typically have careers. Florida’s alimony laws still live in the 1950’s. My ex has worked since before we were married and is quite capable to earn a salary to sustain the lifestyle she is use to. She had left the marriage 3 years ago and left me with all the debt and a house in foreclosure. I have a medical condition which requires extensive care and without it will eventually take my life. The judge failed to take this in account and continues to burden me with additional debt which she has incurred. The ex is now able to live a lifestyle better than mine. No retirement, no medical and now no home. When does it end?

By RB on 2012 02 20, 9:03 pm CDT

Texas has humane laws 3 years max on the alimony side and a top payment of $2500 per month. That makes sense for all! times have change and women are earning just as much as men these days.

By Luis Gutierrez on 2012 02 21, 8:48 pm CDT

Why have alimony at all? Really, think about it. When a man and a women get divorce only one get alimony and the other doesn’t. Was it the man faults or the womens fault for the divorce? It still shouldn’t be based on whos fault it is. The bottom line is that they both want a divorce.
No one is entitled to alimony. Why? Because there is nothing on the consitution that said so. Read it for yourself. This is what this country was based on. No a bunch on laws dream up by lawyer and the political world.
Giving a judge the right to put a price on someone life. That slavery pure and simple. Do I own this person because I pay alimony every month? No! They are free and the consitution saids so. So why do we have to pay alimony at all.
The bill here is a good one and needs to be changed a little to read NO ALIMONY, GET A JOB.

By Chris on 2012 02 22, 11:54 am CDT

I agree with everyone who says alimony is an outdated concept and should be abolished.  The problem is, reform must come first, because no legislature will get behind outright abolition to start.  We need to chip away at alimony and then eradicate it.

Alimony is such a horrible concept that as I work towards reform in Oregon, sometimes I feel incredible frustration.  I am a professional woman, a mom, and second wife to the love of my life.  But I must help support his lazy, overweight first wife who chooses, as she has her entire life, not to work.

Reforming alimony is like trying to pick up the clean end of a turd.  But we must proceed with some restraint, or we will never get changes in the law.

www.facebook.com/oregon.alimony.reform

By SecondWifeisbroke on 2012 02 22, 12:11 pm CDT

The bottom line is that the Alimony program is something that was devised by the courts and fully backed by the attorneys of this great land. It is outdated and needs to go away period. The judges and attorneys do not support this law ever being removed. It is a money maker for the courts and the attorneys. The judge raises your alimony when you go to appeal for wasting their valuble time. Most attorneys promise you the world only to pocket thousands of your dollars knowing they will not win an appeal. There are some attorneys that will tell you up front that an appeal is a bad deal before wasting your hard earned money on them. However, this is very rare due to the bad economy. Our lawmakers can stop this “Robbery and Slavery” if they will listen to the people it affects. But, the lawmakers are lobbied to look the other way just so they can stay in office longer. It’s all about the money folks. Our State governments are not for the people anymore so it seems. There used to be a time when a citizen’s cry was listened to and action was taken by their lawmakers to right the wrongs. Now it’s all about greed and lies. I wish for once that a State’s lawmakers would step-up and listen to the people instead of lining their pockets for popularity. I put this challenge out for any State government to abolish permanent alimony and not just change the name. I highly doubt any State government would take me up on my challenge due to what I have stated above. How can the people trust the lawmakers when they can’t even stick up for the people that put them in office. I have served and fought for this great nation and I would do it over and over again. But, I am ashamed to say that most of our politicians have ruined my country and no longer truly represent the people as they once did. Just lots of mudslinging campaigning and wasting of the tax payers dollars. I would love to see Permanent Alimony abolished but I don’t think it will ever happen in my lifetime due to corruption and injustice.

By RonJon40 on 2012 02 22, 12:19 pm CDT

@SecondWifeisbroke: Your comment states my situation exactly although I am not married because I don’t want to contribute to that lazy woman’s alimony. She is taking another vacation this week. She travels, shops, and goes to the beach and our laws allow this to happen. Your comment gave me a little chuckle which is what I needed today that “Reforming alimony is like trying to pick up the clean end of a turd.  But we must proceed with some restraint, or we will never get changes in the law.”

Each of us in different states need to support each other. I will post your Oregon FB page on my FB page. Please support us in FL as well.

By Debbie Israel on 2012 02 22, 1:40 pm CDT

I believe we need to get the alimony laws changed but then we need to overhaul the family court system. I know it is a tall order but family court should be based on a collaborative process using subject matter experts, with a specific process to move cases along. Disputes in each area, should be judges by experts in that subject matter. The primary directive of the court should be to preserve the assets of the families and to minimize the fight and the pain. Participants who refuse to bargain in good faith or choose to cause the other pain should be fined. Our current system is based in the same adversarial systems we use in criminal and civil justice where people are fighting to win and another person’s expense. If any other industry, so blatantly attacked the welfare of families, openly working hard to take all that a family has, we would not put up with it. Why do we allow it family court? The Florida Bar is not an organization that is interested in doing what is right and they only have power if we tolerate it. Lets change the system, fire the judges and apply real though to a system that preserves family sanity, security, finances and leaves people feeling strong and empowered. Lets for a watchdog group to monitor judges and attorneys to make sure they are expedidting the process and doing their best to preserve the assets of the family. Lets place penalties on those who refuse to negotiate settlements in good faith. Lets fine ex’s who drag kids though the mud or harras their ex. Lets protect the privacy of each party from the other with disclosures that summarize, but provide no detail. Lets make both responsible for their own legal fees so each has incentive to keep the cost down.

By DivorcedDad on 2012 02 23, 11:53 pm CDT

Florida family law attorneys that are against reform:
Carin Porras,  Gordon Brydger,  Lindsey Corcoran,  Donald Sasser,  Jorge Cestero, Thomas Sasser, Elisha Roy.

Have petitioned against 2012 alimony reform in florida or in a firm that does.
If you are male,  I would suggest staying away from them

By dsr broward on 2012 02 26, 8:25 pm CDT

On 02-16-02, at the House Judiciary Committee hearing,  Representative Gaetz, who is an attorney (but does not practice Family Law) , said it best when he stated, “The Family Law Section of the Florida Bar, they serve a special purpose, but you also have to remember they are a special interest group…. They have an interest in making sure that these things are not systematized and not just objectively equitable. Their incentive is to ensure that people still need family law lawyers. And so I don’t know that we need family law lawyers more than we need fair reform. ”

By Hector Torres on 2012 02 26, 8:56 pm CDT

Regarding the Florida Bar, there are more of us than there are of them. The family laws need to be under constant attack. I believe we get a win on this one. We need to keep it going though. There needs to be common sense in family law for the the good of the kids and so people can go on with their lives. We are under no obliation to support bad attorneys who believe their wealth is more important than the welfare of kids. I hope we dont let up just because we make a little progress. We should work to publicize the names of judges and attotrneys who are behind the financial ruin and demise of families. I was going to go at it without an attorney until I found out that there are different rules for people who dont have attorneys. I have to respond on time but someone with an attorney does not. At there very least, we should simplify the process so it is easy for people to represent themselves. I have been in the process for 3 years and have known quite a few people in the process. I have not seen an attorney yet that has provided any value beyond understanding the legal process. I have not seen or heard of any attorney providing amazing strategy so far. Even when I have believed we had a good strategy, the judge has just ignored it and followed their mood for the day. We cant leave this stuff the chance. The judges and attorneys go home and sleep fine. We have to deal with the carnage. Lets fight the Florida Bar. Lets make sure that our representatives who side with them are aggressively voted out and that people with common sense replace them.

By Divorced Dad on 2012 02 26, 9:58 pm CDT

Before I became a victim, I, like many people, felt that “Family Lawyers” were those whose righteous role was to protect the children of dysfunctional families.  I knew that, in a divorce, assets must be split, child support must be paid and that alimony was often required to help a lower earning person gain skills so they could reenter the job market and again become self supportive.  I had heard the complaints, but assumed they were just a few extreme cases, until I learned first hand that it was all such a game of scripts, of acting, of coaching, of role playing, of a legal system that perpetuates itself and has a strong lobby to help ensure the laws remain so vague and adversarial that one can never completely finalize the legal proceedings and must always need an attorney.

After years of the kids and I wondering where mom was, and two years of divorce proceedings and mediation, the first time I heard of “permanent alimony” was when I was handed the final papers to sign.  I said I can’t sign this, I have to retire someday.  My attorney told me the judge would award permanent alimony anyway, so sign it, but don’t worry, everyone has the right to retire.  The years have gone by and I called my attorney last year to ask about retirement, and was told there would be a $250 consulting fee, up front.  I arrived, paid the $250, and said I am nearing retirement and would like to know what I need to do.  “Retire?” she said.  Retire?  Ha Ha Ha!  You can’t just up and retire!  If you could do that, then everybody would retire!”  It went downhill from there.

And here I am, with business so bad I am liquidating my retirement fund to pay alimony and couldn’t retire anyway, and hoping the combination of the law revisions and a new attorney will provide some relief. 

Unfortunately, I did not learn the truth until it was too late, and did not understand how many were in similar circumstances until Florida Alimony Reform was formed.  Bless Alan Frisher and Representative Ritch Workman for their hard work.  Now that the victims are communicating, we must not let up.  We must defeat the divorce lawyers and ensure the process is fair to all parties, is transparent, and that reasonable guidelines are drawn and followed.  We have far to go, and have just begun

By Gilbert on 2012 02 27, 12:01 am CDT

Divorced Dad, I am so sorry for what you are experiencing. My husband is in the same situation. Here in Oregon we are finally organizing to reform alimony laws (www.facebook.com/Oregon.alimony.reform).  The family law bar (of which I was one briefly before I realized they are almost entirely made up of money-grubbing soul suckers and antagonism-inducers) will always fight reform because alimony is their biggest money maker.

My husband borrows against his retirement to pay his former wife over 6,700/month. She is a college educated wealthy woman who has more than enough money to last her a lifetime. She will never remarry, unless somehow the State of Oregon allows people to marry their bitterness (we can’t seem to pass same-sex marriage, so I dont see this happening).

I am reaching out now to law professors at our law school here in Portland hoping to start a discussion, in addition to lobbying the legislature. I believe that someday, not too long from now, we will look back on the days of alimony with disgust and incredulity, much as we do the days of slavery and women being denied the vote and right to own property.

By Secondwifeisbroke on 2012 02 27, 12:23 am CDT

As a resident of St. Pete Beach, I strongly urge the support of the House Version of the Alimony Reform Bill (HB549) and vote in favor of SB 748. The alimony guidelines and laws currently in effect are unfair and outdated at best and in many cases punitive to the payer.

My fiance pays lifetime permanent support to an ex-spouse who came out of the closet and declared herself a lesbian after 20 years of marriage. She is perfectly capable of supporting herself yet chooses not to. She is college educated, worked as a human resources executive and is now an activist and journalist for gay and lesbian causes and publications. The alimony amount my fiance is required to pay is based on his gross income in 2005, an amount he hasn’t come close to matching in any of the ensuing seven years. The alimony his ex-wife receives equals more than 50% of his net income. Because the court awarded her permanent and lifetime alimony, he is compelled to work and pay her until the day he dies.

The Hillsborough County Court was not allowed to consider her change in sexual orientation when it ended their marriage and he is now forced to support her and her new lifestyle. Why must he pay a declared lesbian for the rest of his life? The current laws render him (and me) indentured servants.

The current laws also impacts our decision of whether or not we marry. Should we wed, my assets could be considered along with his if the lesbian ex-wife were to petition the court for an upward modification to the alimony she already receives. She has already indicated her intent to do so. Thus, we have delayed our legal and moral union. The current alimony laws are anti-family and appear to favor the gay agenda in this case. This is reprehensible and sinful.

Clearly the alimony laws need changing and the changes must be retroactive to address the injustices dealt my fiance and thousands of others. Why should anyone be forced to pay alimony for longer than they were married or into their retirement years?

In this particular case, why should anything other than temporary-short term rehabilitative alimony be awarded? The revised legislation should include guidelines for the amount and duration of alimony and include special provisions for normal heterosexual people in situations like this. I am counting on your support for this legislation as well as additional amendments that address this special circumstance.

Thank you for your time and attention to this very important issue.

Elvina Bergmann

By Elvina Bergmann on 2012 02 27, 3:27 am CDT

“Till Death Do Us Part”...if that is null and void upon divorce, why does it hold true only in the case of Alimony??? As a 2nd Wife to Be (only if the law passes as I refuse to give my son’s inheiritence to his ex-wife) I find it repulsive that she can work part-time, lives in a house with no mortgage (she is letting her home go into foreclosure for the last two years and is making money renting it out), received an early inheritence from her father in Germany, but had it placed in her daughters name so not to lose her alimony, has her daughter living with her who also does not work and gets food stamps and they live off the system together. She receives $2,000 a month in alimony and is debt free. Collects rent from a home she does not pay for or no longer owns, eats free thanks to the state of Florida and there is nothing wrong with this system???  Yes, there is…too many attorneys wanting to drag out the Jerry Springer saga in each one of our lives for as many years as possible to milk every last dime out of us. This is a no brainer…open and shut case. She is milking the system, cut her off and be done with it! 20 years of marriage yes, does she deserve lifetime alimony no! Case closed!  Next!

By Kathie Jette on 2012 02 29, 8:42 pm CDT

Capitalism itelsf destroys family (founder cell) Agonie.Das on the part of the family’s concept of trend is the production of energy is Extintion development.The family.

By Chandra on 2012 03 01, 10:25 am CDT

Some Florida Family Law attorneys want alimony reform. See this article and video titled “Alimony Outrage: why people are demanding change” .

http://www.actionnewsjax.com/content/topstories/story/Alimony-outrage-Why-people-are-demanding-change/bwTLmraQl0i0-16z2bxx7A.cspx

By Miami Attorney on 2012 03 01, 10:44 am CDT

My ex-wife walked out on the kids and I after her girlfriend got divorced and told her how she could be set for life if she filed for a divorce after quitting her job.  She immediately began acting single, sometimes not coming home at night, yet I was stunned to find that I had no rights.  It seems a wife can do anything, no matter how heinous, and the husband gets stuck with supporting her until he dies.  The husband’s financial life is essentially ruined.  In Florida, bills have been introduced that would help balance the scales, and passed the house, yet the divorce lawyers have managed to take all reforms out of the senate bill and appear on course to completely derail the bill.  I am baffled why the Bar cannot at least take the position that alimony should stop when one reaches retirement age, and I pray there are enough senators who will recognize the need for reform.  I know there are many fine senators, but they may not get the chance to vote on a decent bill.

By Gilbert on 2012 03 02, 11:12 pm CDT

I have had an alimony obligation from my previous marriage which has virtually left me broke.  I was represented by a family lawyer that should have had his license revoked (hindsight is 20-20, but when going through a traumatic event such as divorce, all senses are not functioning and legal matters are very vague to a layperson).

It is important to understand that my ex-wife got all property (other than a car and my clothes), lifetime alimony in excess of $2,300 per month, a lump sum payment of $100,000 (which I was ordered by the Judge not to declare as payment for her to avoid taxes!), I was responsible for all debts run up to the time of the legal separation. 

Today she has a home completely paid for, completely furnished, retirement from not only her job, but all of mine as well, from a job I had for over 14 years during our marriage.  My financial situation changed for the worse within a couple of years after the divorce decree was imposed by a Tampa Judge, where I lost my job and was unable for almost 4 years to get back to work.  In the meantime, the Judges following this Judge kept threatening jail if I did not pay her over $100,000.  I had to go to my own family to finally be able to collect enough money to buy her out of this mess.  I am still obligated for almost $12,000 per year as long as she lives despite the lump sum settlement she took.  It is also important to note that she had taken in several live-in boyfriends, avoiding marriage (which would nullify her alimony) while flaunting this in my face.

To this day (since Feb 1995 and I am almost 60), I am strapped to this despicable decision by a Judge who laughed and joked with my ex-wife’s attorney when my ex-wife had to be called on the phone from the Courtroom, the day of our final hearing,  where she said she “forgot” about the hearing and was on her way to the Beach.  The Judge said “oh that is ok…”, sided with her (no real circumstances of my case other than long term marriage of 20 years to a mentally abusive woman - no children at home).  I was shocked at our system and to this day remain dismayed that the system can be so unfair.

Is there such a thing as fairness in the system (can there be)?

By Stillsuffering on 2012 03 03, 2:43 pm CDT

Thank you ABA Journal for publishing an article about alimony reform.  I hope you will continue to follow up on this issue.  As a lawyer who has been through a divorce, I can attest to how wasteful and unpredictible the family law system is when it comes to determining alimony awards.  My divorce attorney, who is very experienced and came highly recommended, advised me after reviewing my situation in tremendous detail that “we have credible evidence to believe that no alimony will be awarded”.
Imagine my surprise after presenting extremely detailed financial records to the Judge when the Judge exercised his discretion and awarded my ex-wife $4,500 per month Alimony on top of approximately $2,400 in child support.  My ex-wife has a master’s degree (which I paid for) and is fully capable of supporting herself.  She got the house (which is fully paid for) and a good chunk of my retirement accounts.  She has no debt.  WHY SHOULD ONE ABLED BODIED PERSON WHO IS WELL EDUCATED AND FULLY CAPABLE OF SUPPORTING HERSELF BE ENTITLED TO “SPOUSAL SUPPORT” FOR AN INDEFINITE DURATION?
The current system is broken.  It is needlessly expensive, unpredictible, and unfair.  Child support guidelines work well, and alimony guidelines would also give us predictibility, a greater measure of fairness, and would save a tremendous amount of resources for those going through a divorce as well as the court system.  Thank you Florida Alimony Reform for raising awareness of this travesty of justice. The need for reform is great.

By John on 2012 03 03, 7:05 pm CDT

Please support HB 549. It is the only true reform bill although it contains many compromises.
The SB 748 is NOT real alimony reform.
Reform is crucially necessary for families in Florida.

My fiance was divorced in Hillsborough County in 2005 only because his ex-wife decided to pursue a lesbian lifestyle after twenty years of marriage. The court awarded her lifetime and permanent alimony when she was 46 years old and in excellent health.

This is a highly competent woman who simply chooses not to work. She is educated and worked as a human resources executive during the marriage then voluntarily left that position to pursue artistic and freelance photo-journalism part-time assignments.

Permanent alimony was born when women had no economic power, divorce was rare, and cohabitation was scandalous. Given that times have changed, permanent alimony does not make sense.

Alimony for a set amount of time that has limits is fair and just. Alimony granted for a limited amount of time allows for a person to be able to seek employment, get vocational training, or degreed education to return to the work force.

There is a huge difference between permanent alimony that enslaves the payer to the ex-spouse versus a set and limited period of time for alimony. Permanent alimony in essence does not allow the couple to truly be ‘divorced’ from each other since the financial tie is always there.

My fiance and I would like to marry yet if we do, his ex has threatened to seek an upward modification in alimony because I have assets. He and I are 55 years old. We fear his ex will deplete me of my assets if we marry. In essence, the state of Florida would rather we live together and in sin rather than in marriage by being so anti-family and allowing his ex the ability to collect permanent alimony.
Why should he be punished to pay her till his death when it was her decision to pursue a different lifestyle that certainly didn’t include him? She is avaricious and a hypocrite.

Florida is one of very few states that has backwards, out-of-date laws.

Please support HB 549. Please allow those currently paying lifetime permanent alimony the ability to retroactively change their alimony obligation to a limited-temporary set amount of time alimony.

Thank you for your interest and attention to this important matter.

By Elvina Bergmann on 2012 03 05, 1:32 am CDT

The news is spreading.  The NY Times just wrote an article about alimony reform.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/05/us/alimony-payers-prod-states-to-update-divorce-laws.html

Thanks again.

Alan Frisher

By Alan Frisher on 2012 03 05, 12:39 pm CDT

Breaking News: FAR’s Co-Director Alan Frisher appeared on Channel 13 News Broadcast tonight and discusses what is going on in Tallahassee with the current Alimony Reform Bill. The video on YouTube is titled “Florida Alimony Reform is getting hijacked by the Florida Bar”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qESDufmC5qI&context=C4909d2bADvjVQa1PpcFM0_Q3rrC7Ec1ez_jYrF7SK5igFP-ZlSco=

By Florida Alimony Reform on 2012 03 08, 10:35 pm CDT

I am thrilled to see all the comments here.

I have no job. My home is in foreclosure. My kids are with me this evening. My 5 year old told me that Grandma told him that dad lost his job. He is scared. My daughter is scared to tell me what Mom and Grandma are saying about me at home. My kids love me so much. They are the best kids in the world. They are so scared. I have offered my ex all we have and her attorney is telling her to keep fighting. She is telling her that if she holds out, she will get more?!? There is nothing left but her attorney is preying on her anger. Her attorney will get our boat. She is bothering my attorney for fees because she wants to buy a house. I am telling her take it and end this so my kids wont be exposed to it any longer. They should know nothing about it all but their mother and grandmother know that they are all I care about so they are being used as weapons. The judge, at our last hearing refused to even hear what my attorney had to say. My ex took close to $100k from out joint accounts and he doesn’t care. He wont listen. My attorney, who is known for being good and fair, does not want to go in front of the judge again becuase of his bias. He doesn’t seem to care about the kids. My ex is able to keep this going as long as she wants even though I have agreed to give her what she wants. She wants to run me into bankruptcy just to make me pay. I have saved all my life, she has refused to work for the last 5 years and now I am the one who pays. She worked for 15 years of a 20 year marriage and refused to work for the last 5. My worse fear is not being able to support my family. She is doing her best to make sure that fear is realized at the expense of my children. The judge is eager to help her make that happen. I will end up in jail. She and my kids will end up on the street. She has no plan. Her attorney has no plan. The current law says she can do this and a very good attorney can’t stop her. WOW!

The attorneys who believe the judge should have more discretion are doing this for their own benefit. They know people and kids are suffering. They don’t care. These people are cold people.

My ex needs counseling. She wont get it. The lives of my children are being ruined….right now….as we speak. My 9 year old is begging for a counselor. I can’t afford it.

We need to stop this. No one cares. We are outraged by people like Burnie Madoff for stealing people’s savings. Attorneys and judges are doing it legally and we all stand by and watch. This is not right.

For many years, I thought we are all in contol of our own fate. I made $500k per year and saved 1/2 for years. Now I can’t find a job and I have lost everything. There is no reason for it. My kids are close to being on the street and I can’t do a thing to stop it. We need to all see that our family court system is here to serve the attorneys and judges. There is nothing in it for the families. My ex has two arrests for domestic battery. No one cares. Is this really the U.S.?

Alimony reform is important but we need to drive to the root of the problem. Our family court system is based on the same system used for criminal and civil law. We should not be trying to beat each other. The court system and all the money injected into it should be used to find a good solution for all parties using counselors and subject matter experts. The state has a responsibility to make sure kids are safe. They should make sure kids get a fair chance in family court as well. Currently, no one is looking out for their best interest.

Judges and attorneys should have a code of conduct, a primary mission to make sure all end up in the best possible positon, and independent oversight that can fine or fire them for not doing what is in the best interest of families. At the moment, they can all do what they want. A judge is accountable to no one.

One attorney told me that judges make $120k per year and many of them are overworked. He told me that they have bad attitudes becuase of their feeling of being over-worked and under-paid. We can’t allow them to make decisions that will affect generations. Our legislators who bow down to the Florida Bar should be exposed. The Florida Bar should not have this kind of self serving influence and those who give it to them should be exposed. They spend alot of time talking about the woman who raised kids and is now getting hurt but they don’t tell us about the fact that she refuses to work or about the kids that are now suffering. They don’t tell us about the suicides because people cant cope or the people going to jail who have never commited a crime. They don’t tell us about the kids who have to work to help support their families while they watch their friends have a life. They dont tell you about the kids who lose their homes. It is happeneing every day. It will happen to my kids in the next few months if I dont find a job. It may happen anyway if the judge doesn’t wake up.

By Divorced Dad on 2012 03 08, 11:00 pm CDT

Divorced Dad,

I’ve replied to your post once before.  I was in your situation once.  My divorce started in 2004.  I was so desperate that suicide seemed like the only option.  I can tell you from experience that it does get better with time.  Yes, your ex-wife is doing harmful things to your kids.  Yes, the lawyers are only in it for the money.  Yes, the judge will make an unfair decision because you are a man.  Yes, permanent alimony is a terrible life-long burden.  However, your kids are your reason for living… you need to continue to be as much a part of their lives as you can… and you need to continue to be a positive influence in their lives.  Trust me, they will figure it out eventually by seeing your example.  Don’t give up.

You can contact me by searching for my username “barnabas1969”. I’m all over the web.  Let’s get together and talk.  I don’t want anyone being so desperate that they commit suicide.  In the beginning of my divorce, I was kept away from my kids for 8 months.  I was accused of sexual abuse.  My situation seemed hopeless.  Things are OK now.  Just keep moving forward… even if the progress is very slow…. you will get there eventually.

By Briaraaan Reynolds on 2012 03 09, 12:58 am CDT

http://www.change.org/petitions/womans-and-childrens-income-up-for-grabs-in-florida-court-rooms

By Dana on 2012 03 09, 10:14 am CDT

I think alimony should be done away with completely. Where does it say or show that when you get a divorce you must pay alimony? How would a judge like it if he or she had to pay alimony ? Then those that are paying alimony are inslaved to the payee the rest of their lifes. Someone that the payer is NO LONGER MARRIED TOO. Our goverment isn’t for the people but against them. Fight alimony and wipe it out for good. NO PERMANENT ALIMONY AND NO ALIMONY PERIOD.

By Chris on 2012 03 09, 11:12 am CDT

Is Florida’s alimony system broken? http://www.cfnews13.com/content/news/cfnews13/news/article.html/content/news/articles/cfn/2012/3/9/alimony_in_florida_b

By Debbie Israel on 2012 03 09, 11:40 am CDT

Brian, thanks for responding. I will most definitely hang on for my kids. I appreciate the passion of those pushing for reform and I am sad to see that reform didn’t pass in Florida, regardless of the fact that it was the right thing to do. I have never been involved in politics to this degree and quite frankly, I am surprised that the Senate and the Florida Bar took such an important issues and made the clear statement that their paycheck is more important than the people they serve. I would like to call for all reading this forum to help flush out all of those people responsible for stopping this legislation and get them out of office. If they are part of the bar, spread the word that they are looking out for their interest over that of their clients or the children involved. All the legislators involved need to be replaced. We need to find all the names and use our leverage in the social media to publicize these people and the money they take from families struggling to survive. Let’s aggressively turn the tables and mobilize. Can we boycott family law? Can they put all the lifetime alimony payers in jail if everyone refuses to pay? Can we all agree that it’s time to make more of a stand against self serving politicians, attorneys and the Florida Bar? Do we want politicians who are too weak to stand up to the goons with the Florida Bar? Is it our time to fight for freedom? We are being enslaved for life and our children are being victimized. Revolutions have started for much less.

By Divorced Dad on 2012 03 10, 10:18 pm CDT

Divorced Dad, I completely agree.

First, I want to thank the ABA Journal for allowing this blog/forum.  I understand the ABA must support free speech, but they could stop this at any time.  I once thought Family Law referred to the attorneys who fought for the safety of the children, held them in some respect, but now see they are down there with the PIP fraud guys.  Knowing what I now know, I see that my representation was a farce. The attorneys refer to each other as mean bulldogs but I’m going to protect you because I’m a saint.  Ha!  Then they go for coffee after you leave and they talk about us like morticians talk about corpses, except we are corpses they can keep sucking money out of as long as they screw us. 
I am for taking and publicizing names, starting with the judges who made the wackiest judgments.  The guy with a ten year marriage paying permanent alimony is at the top of my list.  I hope he will petition for a halt or reduction in alimony so we can have a news crew ready to interview him afterwards.  Talk about a poster child.  We must show the world how crazy this is.  I also want to take a moment to thank Alan Frisher for his leadership in Florida.  Until he put the FAR together we did not speak with one voice.  Now we do and now we will be a pain in the side of all the self serving lawyers, starting with Senator Anitere Flores, the family lawyer who was head of the judicial committee and who did her best to completely kill the bill.  I think that is a total breach of ethics, manipulating an issue in which you have an interest.  She seems like such a nice person, but now we know.
Alan, can you add a blog to the FAR site to get this going?

By Gilbert on 2012 03 10, 11:27 pm CDT

We may not have updated Florida’s outdated laws this year, but we have a very good start.  We will continue to build our membership at FAR and continue the movement to have no-fault alimony follow Florida’s no-fault divorce.  Alimony laws were written prior to Florida’s adoption of no-fault divorce.  Prior to that, you knew who did what.  Without updating the alimony laws to match no-fault divorce laws, many innocent people have been handed life sentences, without benefit of a jury.  We will not stop our alimony reform movement.  When the Florida Senate Sponsor of the alimony bill balks at bringing the bill to the floor for a vote, it should raise an eyebrow of the ABA.  Some have likened it to the Fox in the Henhouse.  You decide.
In the meantime, Florida Alimony Reform will continue to grow, organize, and help end these ridiculous lifetime alimony obligations to innocent citizens. 
I used to think that was the job of our legal system, protect the innocent.  If the innocent has money, they are fair game in Florida’s “anti-family” court.  Innocence or guilt do not matter, only “ability to pay.”
We will NOT go away.  I can’t even say the pledge of allegiance without shaking my head; “With Liberty and Justice for All.”  It used to mean something to me.  Now they are just empty words.
Please get involved with FAR at www.FloridaAlimonyReform.com   We WILL Continue!

By Charles Reinertsen on 2012 03 11, 7:28 am CDT

With all due respect, I used to really believe that there was some justice in life.  My husband and I were thrilled to have some representation in Florida.  The way things went down can make a person very paranoid.  I get that it is very hard to believe that a middle-aged white man could be a victim.  There are also families connected to these men.  They are victims too, Mothers, fathers, sisters, wives children, communities and friends.  I really only know one alimony payer, my husband.  At this moment I feel helpless.  Six years ago he was a middle-aged white man, now he is a broken elderly man.  This is what FLORIDA has done to him.  I hope that the income made by these laws is a bitter pill to take.  Was that extra vacation his attorney takes every year worth the years that have been stolen from us.  Not just the years actually going through this, but the years that have been shortened from his life.  And this is repeated for every alimony payer that goes through your court system.  You may believe, ha-ha, that you are protecting the alimony recipient, what about giving her the over $200.00 in legal fees that you have taken from my husband alone.  She would be fine then.  But I guess your over indulged teenaged daughter needed a new car.  I was having a lot of anger issues the first six months that I knew my husband, but now I realize that she is not really the enemy.  She has only been doing what her attorney told her she could do, including lying on the stand.  He was right!  She got away with it.  My husband has begun taking injections for diabetes in the past year.  He shakes all of the time.  He either cannot sleep at all for weeks or he sleeps all of the time.  He has even been known to fall asleep at work.  His father passed away last November.  He spent the last 6 years of his life watching his son’s health decline.  All from stress related problems.  One of the requests he had before he passed away was that the x not get a dime of the inheritance.  Call us paranoid!  We are not even able to at least vote for or against the lawmakers, we don’t live in Florida!  We also doubt everything.  How do we know that the leaders of Florida alimony reform are not taking payoffs?  Would be very profitable and they have teenage girls in their family that desperately need a new car. 

I know that it is hard to feel sorry for a middle aged man with a decent paying job.  You have not met my husband.  If you met him you would wonder what makes him shake, and how he could look so old and hunched over at the young age of 60.  Well you live through what he has.  I also have aged in just the three years I have known him.  This is what happens when the x wages war and the state of Florida is the one giving her free ammunition.  Well I have seen cancer patient die an easier death than the one his.

Well I am sure there is not anyone who reads this that cares.  O well may God have his revenge on all of you involved.

By Dana on 2012 03 11, 8:50 am CDT

Comment removed by moderator.

By Dana on 2012 03 11, 9:24 am CDT

Divorce.com is the equivalent to AXGARY.com.  Nothing we can do about it.  They will always try to preserve litigation.  Mr. Manz says the standard line of those in that position and who can argue with it.  We must counter that line with the other side in a methodical way, with a marketing program to educate the public. With blogs and YouTube videos.

I am 64, and have aged at least ten years, maybe 20, in the past six years since my divorce. I will work all day again today, Sunday, like yesterday, to try to keep up, but still cannot. What to do?

I do not question Alan Frisher’s sincerity.  I am appalled to hear Portilla has a connection to alimony lawyers.  He and Flores are two peas in a pod.  I smell RICO.  Float that balloon and see what happens.  But there are honest men and women in the senate and we must draw a picture of the spider web of deceit and put forth our arguments to them, so our first move is to begin the investigation and draw a picture of the web.  Tallahassee CSI.

Dana, tell your husband to hang on.  I also wonder out loud if any state denies deportation for jail time imposed as a result in failure to pay alimony?  Anyone know, or must I move to Nicaragua?  Or am I safe even there?

Back to Mr. Manz’s statements.  Indeed, that situation happens. What is our counter statement?  How can the law protect the older lady with no job skills whose husband dumps her, and at the same time protect the husbands (mostly) whose wife did the things he speaks of yet the husband still has to pay.  Then maybe adultery remains a reason to grant alimony.

We must first support the issues that no one can argue with, such as alimony stops at age 67, or is limited to 50% of the time of marriage, or must not leave the payor in a worse situation than the payee. It would be a baby step in the right direction if the payee’s retirement benefits reduced alimony dollar for dollar.  At least mine would go down to only a few hundred a month.  Today, I fear she will get half my social security, and keep all of hers.

I know a senator who can be trusted, I just don’t know his position on the issues. Our views are flavored by our circumstances.  Maybe his sister got a raw deal.  But if we all speak with those we know then maybe we can get this done.  Considering we only got started late in the year, we (Alan) did a remarkable job. Let’s start writing the game plan, let’s get going!

I again want to thank the ABA Journal for allowing this debate, though I feel like a CIA agent using Putin’s conference room. There’s nobody listening, right?  —Alan, can you set up a forum or blog on the FAR web site?

By Gilbert on 2012 03 11, 10:24 am CDT

it’s a matter of time boys! what we need to do is organize by county first, followed with hiring a good lobbyist and spend some marketing dollars and put an end to these outdated laws, and at the same time we can show these so called politicans the door! I am sure we can out spend the lawyers

By luis on 2012 03 11, 10:26 am CDT

See!  even luis says that only those in a florida county is of any value to the cause.  My degree is in marketing.  I have worked for fortune 500 companies such as First Data, Suntrust, Chase, and WW Grainger.  In fact I was the first female Grainger Ranger.  Organize by county go ahead.  You should also add that only white middle aged men can join.

By Dana on 2012 03 11, 11:04 am CDT

To Cathy Meyer, at least we agree with one thing, you had a bad attorney. Your comments sound like you are making a case for standardization of laws. Attorneys have a 2 year degree and don’t have to be very smart. Judges don’t have minimum qualifications either. They have no expertise in the areas they are judging and they are not looking for justice. This is about billable hours and making clients full time career projects. You say you didn’t get alimony. With standard guidlines, you probably would have. I think some deserve to be made whole but we could do that with specific guidlines for those situations, that is if the goal is not just to create an environment where the attorneys win. The Florida Bar could help craft the guidlines that would be fair if that was their goal. Most, who have managed people know, that you should not provide incentives for an outcome you don’t want. Cathy Meyer wanted alimony. She hired an attorney. The attorney got paid. She did not get her alimony. She is fighting to keep the system the same. Seems like a lesson in insanity.

By Divorced Dad on 2012 03 11, 11:30 am CDT

I agree that we should start with issues we can all agree on…..hopefully. I believe that those who are making the claim that they should receive alimony becuase they don’t have the earning power of their ex should at least have to work full time or as much as the payer. One should not be able to refuse to work while the payer is forced to work. One should be required to take responsibility for their own welfare, relying on alimony only to bridge the gap. A payer should not be forced to support someone who is not willing to at least try to support themselves.

By Divorced Dad on 2012 03 11, 3:41 pm CDT

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