Alimony battle lines forming for 2020 Legislative Session

alimony fight
I’d start popping my popcorn now. It’s sure to be a wild ride in 2020.

The battle over alimony reform will resume during the 2020 Legislative Session, with both sides making big moves in preparation for the next round in the fight.

It’s no secret Florida Politics has criticized alimony reformers in the past for astringent and insensitive comments on social media.

No matter your opinion on lifetime alimony (and we certainly have strong opinions on the matter), next Session’s fight could be the heaviest yet.

That’s because the leading pro-alimony reformers have upped their act and elevated to another level. A fight formerly led by the Florida Family Law Reform PAC will now be led by the new Florida Family Fairness group.

Tampa Attorney Marc Johnson is a leadership member of the new group which claims the bad behavior of some former members gave alimony reform a negative reputation with some lawmakers.

Florida Family Fairness is cutting bait with the troublemakers and starting fresh.

“Name calling, personal attacks and questionable behavior are unacceptable. We will stay focused on the issue and help educate legislators, Governor [Ron] DeSantis and the public,” said Johnson. “A divorce does not need to destroy a family. Florida’s current alimony laws are hurting families.”

To help them, Florida Family Fairness has significantly beefed up its bench. They have hired Ballard Partners and public affairs shop McNicholas & Associates which has offices in Palm Beach, Tallahassee, and Charleston, SC.

This has rubbed some of the pro-reform keyboard warriors the wrong way, but we say good riddance to nasty and gutless social media pages run by folks like Debbie Leff-Kelapire and Elvina Bergmann Kallett. Pages that, need I remind you, compared alimony payments to slavery, called Rep. Bob Rommel a ‘one-man dictatorship,’ and refered to women as ‘leeches.’

Even Terry Power is on his best behavior. He has returned to Florida from Texas and is no longer a fugitive. We hear he is settling his case with his ex-wife.

Time to make the donuts!

Not to be outdone or outgunned, the Family Law Section of the Florida Bar is retaining Smith, Bryan & Myers. The team on East Park will certainly have history on its side, with alimony reform going down in flames for the past six years, mostly in part to the work of Nelson Diaz and Southern Strategy Group. Diaz apparently made the decision to part ways with the Family Law Section at this end of this past session.

This one is almost as good as NBA free agency. I’d start popping my popcorn now. It’s sure to be a wild ride in 2020.

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises Media and is the publisher of FloridaPolitics.com, INFLUENCE Magazine, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.


21 comments

  • John Waldorf

    August 1, 2019 at 7:19 pm

    The solution to the problem is to dismantle the legal unions. The family law attorneys are why previous efforts have not been successful. The lawyers put money in their pockets as long as everything is status quo…they do not operate in the best interest of their clients, they operate on what puts the most money in their pockets so they can put another Mercedes in their drive way….don’t be fooled….how many more families will be destroyed ? How many more suicides will be the result of these union family law attorneys?

    The people trying to push through new and progressive legislation in prior years are heroes and should be applauded for their efforts.
    I am not a “keyboard”warrior” ….my fighting has been done from inside the prisons that the family law courts use to jail people who are attempting to change the status quo and prevent our children from having to fight the same battles. Try walking in my shoes and you might understand the language behind the keyboard…
    If you can’t stand the political fight then get out of the frying pan….politics is nasty and corrupt…just calling the attorneys for what they are.

    • Val

      August 1, 2019 at 9:49 pm

      John Waldorf, that was Beautiful! You are absolutely right!

    • Dotty Holley

      August 11, 2019 at 9:55 am

      I can’t believe this battle is still going on in Florida. I was battling this issue in the 1970s when my husband was having to pay lifetime alimony to his ex-wife despite the fact he had custody of their five children. she was college-educated and had the ability to work but why should she when she had a free ride with alimony with no requirement to work or any other requirement or ending date. Other states have finally put some requirements on the party seeking alimony and time limits. Florida comes into the present century and acknowledge that women are not little weaklings that need to be taken care of in perpetuity.

  • Shelley McKaughan

    August 2, 2019 at 6:13 pm

    Funny, I did not get alimony and neither did my ex. Current law requires findings to show alimony is appropriate.

    From observing past years battles, it’s clear to me some folks just cannot except the outcome of their divorce.

    Keep in mind, alimony is enforceable via contempt. Equitable distribution payments are not. I suspect that is the real reason some people push for this reform!

    I mean when a spouse who refuses to follow the rules can be held in contempt for not paying attorny fees, but cannot be held in contempt for refusing to make equitable distribution payments that they have the ability to make….. the law may already be imbalanced.

    • Sandy Oestreich

      August 3, 2019 at 11:27 pm

      I JUST DO NOT UNDERSTAND WHAT THIS IS ALL ABOUT. IS THE CHANGING LAW GOING TO ABOLISH ALIMONY, OR SOMETHING ELSE?

      I HAVE BEEN trying hard, WITH MY 300,000 members, to fight for fair alimony, child custody etc. for men. FAIR is the key word here. Divorce is painful and do these issues conflate the issues or are they the cause?

      In short, we partner with 3 other huge nationwide Equal Rights AMendment organizations, with the goal of US Constitutional guarantee against Sex Discrimination against male and female, both. Though males, too, generally agree that little girls and women take the brunt of sex discrimination (think: rape adjudicated with a slap on the wrist rather than as a soul-searing crime) but divorcing men may have a point. And I’d like to hear about that.
      PS Seems like most men either pooh-pooh girls’ and women’s fight against sex discrimination, they are surprised to hear that the ERA could benefit them, too. We work hard for both sexes, despite my having been run off the road in front of our home in pitch dark, and having been issued public death threats by men who assume the ERA only benefits females.

      Somebody please let me know what men think. And how they have been abused by The System that’s not flavored by the costs of divorce. Seriously.

  • Bill Null

    August 2, 2019 at 8:22 pm

    Divorce lawyers argue that alimony “can’t be reduced to a formula—every case in unique. Only full judicial discretion is appropriate “. Translation: Fighting over alimony produces enormous amounts of billable hours. We can’t possibly give that up.

    Even New York reduced alimony awards to a definable, explainable, predicable formula. Why not Florida? Why not NJ?

    Because divorce lawyers would lose an enormous cash cow—there is no other reason.

    Bill Null
    NYC

  • Bob

    August 3, 2019 at 7:40 am

    Saying something isn’t so doesn’t make it so. When the hours, minutes, and seconds of your life are involuntarily taken over and you are forced to use them to labor for an entity and an individual(under threat of punishment)with no hope of ever being able to live your life the way you want to as a free person. That is the very definition of slavery.

    The only difference between traditional slavery and Florida’s permanent alimony laws is that the whip has been replaced with the jail cell. One only has to read the numerous laws against “involuntary servitude” to see how they describe permanent alimony to a tee.

    I’m happy to see someone still fighting against this but smart, intelligent, and awakened men are walking away from marriage and relationships by the hundreds of thousands. In the future the only men willing to sign a marriage license will be those still duped by the system and brainwashed into thinking that the state is entitled to this kind of power over their lives.

  • Bob

    August 3, 2019 at 8:07 am

    42 U.S. Code 1994

    “The holding of any person to service or labor under the system known as peonage is abolished and forever prohibited in any Territory or State of the United States; and all acts, laws, resolutions, orders, regulations, or usages of any Territory or State, which have heretofore established, maintained, or enforced, or by virtue of which any attempt shall hereafter be made to establish, maintain, or enforce, directly or indirectly, the voluntary or involuntary service or labor of any persons as peons, in liquidation of any debt or obligation, or otherwise, are declared null and void”.
    (R.S. § 1990.)

    Sounds like permanent alimony to me.

  • Anastasia

    August 3, 2019 at 9:23 am

    Wow! Looking at characteristic of the Debbie woman,she appears to be a very pretty lady. But such an evil heart :-(. Such a shame too. I wonder what the others look like? Are their hearts just as evil?

    • John Waldorf

      August 3, 2019 at 2:13 pm

      Debbie is a smart rocket and has helped tremendously in the battle for change in Alimony Laws. Before you start throwing stones walk a 1000 miles in Debbies shoes.

    • John Waldord

      August 7, 2019 at 10:11 am

      Debbie is not an evil women, just a very smart one. Anastasia what is your skin in the game? Are you or your husband a union attorney ? If you have skin in the game, your Constitutional rights violated and you voice you opinion, you label them as “evil hearts”.
      Maybe you should take a step back and think about what is in the best interest of your children and hope you might have strong people like Debbie on you side in a battle, and yes this is a battle between good and evil. The evil here are the union lawyers who want to keep the status quo.

  • Elvina Bergmann Kallett

    August 3, 2019 at 11:16 am

    Anyone who has been paying attention will know that since its inception in 2004, Florida’s alimony reform movement has been led by numerous organizations. In the case of the newly re-branded Florida Family Fairness, changing the name of the organization doesn’t necessarily change its composition. They may have added a few more people to their leadership, but most of the veterans remain.

    In my opinion, paying permanent/lifetime alimony is like slavery and those demanding and receiving permanent alimony (men or women), forcing their ex-spouse to support them when they could be supporting themselves, are indeed leeches and parasites.

    McNicholas and Johnson’s efforts to distance themselves from dissenting views from within the ranks of alimony reform will not stifle those voices or make them go away. It should be remembered that in years past, two alimony reform bills with overwhelming grassroots support from all voices achieved majority votes in both the Florida House and Senate without the new Florida Family Fairness leadership’s guidance. One doesn’t need to have a horse in this race to know that Florida’s antiquated family laws are long overdue for reform. Perhaps they will succeed where others have failed and I hope and pray they will.

  • john williams

    August 7, 2019 at 3:45 pm

    Elvina hit the nail on the head, we actually had a super majority from the house and senate. Scott killed it. This past year it never made it, because time expired? Never understood how that could happen, was it sabotaged intentionally. It baffles me that divorce lawyers in Florida have this much power, clearly having a fair formula’s in place will make the entire process more streamlined, less contentious, and save a tremendous amount of Court time. Its a win for divorcing families, saving them thousands and thousands of dollars that can be used for the children, or simply getting a new start on life. The only losers when we get this through is divorce lawyers, it is not about them anyway!

  • Danny Yates

    August 7, 2019 at 3:51 pm

    I am a victim of permanent alimony since 2000. At that time I was 33 years old now at 53 I have wore my body out as a landscaper and am in pain daily but cannot even consider slowing down $3500 per month for life….. The current law says I have to work myself into my own grave.. in the meantime my x wife is perfectly healthy was paid 70k a year for rehab alimony for the first two years and still doesn’t work… Please help fix our broken laws… There is so much more to share about my story it could make a strong stomach sick !!!!! HELP please

    • Bob

      August 7, 2019 at 4:44 pm

      Danny,
      I understand the psychological torment you are experiencing. I would never offer you legal advise but, only tell you what others have done. Many men in your position have killed themselves and others after all their hope was lost. Please don’t do that. I know people in your predicament who just left Florida and started a new life in a new state that doesn’t treat their citizens this way over alimony. One particular couple I knew fled to Texas and last I heard from them years ago,are happy there. Research this on your own. It is my understanding that Florida cannot pursue you there for alimony. Your ex can but then, the laws of that state will come into play and they don’t treat alimony like a felony. Chances are any alimony reform that occurs in Florida will not reach back to old cases. They just won’t give up their slaves.

  • MICHAEL MORRELL

    August 7, 2019 at 5:29 pm

    I am 48 yrs old and went through a divorce where I had to give our house of 25 years to my spouse, which has only a small amount left on the mortgage, had to give a large equitable distribution and pay $3000 monthly for life to a woman that make over $60 K a year, not including all the tips she receives as she is a well established hair stylist. Mean while I have to kill myself the same as Danny above… in a landscape business that I built by myself with no help from her all the years for the rest of my life to make her comfortable ? Two children grown and out of the house… and I have to do this forever.. great fairness in Florida alimony laws.

    • George

      August 7, 2019 at 6:29 pm

      I am with Danny and Michael and many others, Alimony for life since 1998, now I am 71, gave my ex 50% of my retirement, 50% of my stocks, my house, my car, Child support for my two kids for 10 years and they never got a penny of that money because my ex always told them on any need for school or support ask your dad I have no money. Meanwhile she was working with an Airline, then became a Real State Broker making thousands a year. When my daughter turned 18 she was kick out by my ex because needed her room, she moved with me and went to University and graduated, my son left to University, never talked to her again after a couple of years in school for reasons I don’t know, now is a Dr. with my help. This woman had received thousands of Dollars from me, I can’t afford to own a house and my future is very uncertain while hers is totally clear and with lots of money. This is not fair at all, Alimony in Florida needs to change retroactive. We are slaves for getting divorced.

  • Joe

    August 12, 2019 at 4:41 pm

    The family attorneys are nervous. They see any attempt at reform means a reduction in billable hours for them and they might have to seek honest work as ambulance chasers or carnival barkers.

    • Bob

      August 12, 2019 at 7:01 pm

      The Florida Bar has $millions to spend fighting reform and yet 2 bills made it to governor Scott’s desk with overwhelming support in the legislature. We have a governor now who is ethical and moral and seems to understand right & wrong. Despite the power of the Bar, I believe Governor DeSantis understands the ethical and moral failure of Florida’s alimony laws.

  • Bryan J Smith

    August 15, 2019 at 3:37 pm

    I think most of us have seen rampant abuse — not over just years, but even decades — and what the courts need to do is address serious changes in fiscal ability and standing, instead of perpetual agreements that do not apply in the 21st century.

    This is something we should all agree on, independent of the sex arguments and claims.

    Although I disagree with some of the assertions here. Whether one agrees or disagrees on the sex arguments and claims, it shouldn’t be labeled sexist to make an argument that a woman with a fiscal ability is an example to follow. In fact, it’s kinda the point.

    It may not be politically correct, but it’s not an invalid argument.

Comments are closed.


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