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Amy Hamlin: Sweeping alimony changes will hurt Florida families

Hasty changes to alimony reform won’t yield better results for Florida families.

For the last several Legislative Sessions, there has a push for sweeping changes to Florida’s alimony statute that would severely alter our system and cause significant harm to Florida families. This year’s push has come in the form of House Bill 843 and Senate Bill 1832.

These bills would make negative and far-reaching changes to the current alimony system, including doing away with long-term alimony and adopting the presumption of equal timesharing, along with other provisions that discount the concept that marriage is an equal partnership.

First, long-term alimony is already being misleadingly referred to as permanent or lifetime alimony. Neither of these names are a correct description of this type of alimony, as long-term alimony can always be modified at a judge’s discretion, upon a significant change in circumstance or a supportive relationship. The only way that long-term alimony cannot be modified is if the parties agree to it as part of the divorce settlement.

Additionally, by doing away with long-term alimony and prioritizing certain types of alimony, as this legislation does, we’re creating an unfair system that would leave one party severely unprotected and would open up the possibility for alimony to be awarded in short-term marriages when alimony is not applicable and long-term marriages where a statutorily preferred type of alimony might not be the fair solution.

Another troubling part of this proposed legislation is the presumption of equal timesharing, as a presumption of 50/50 timesharing wrongly assumes that all families are the same and should be treated the same.

While evidence-based psychological research has shown that children do best when they have quality parenting time and an ongoing relationship with both parents, there is no single optimal amount of time that benefits every child, as each child has different developmental needs — what works for a toddler may not work for an adolescent.

Moreover, current law acknowledges that children should continue to have contact with both parents, but it is up to the court to ultimately take into account a variety of factors, including anything deemed relevant to the determination of a specific parenting plan, including the timesharing schedule.

This fact-driven determination should continue and take into account the many factors that affect the upbringing of a child and not just have a blanket policy that immediately presumes 50/50 timesharing, like SB 1832 and HB 843 would do.

Additionally, creating a presumption of equal timesharing, which now must be disproved to cause a different result, wrongly shifts the burden of proof and persuasion to a parent to prove lack of involvement or unfitness of the other parent — even in extreme cases where there has been abuse or neglect.

The reality is, an equal timesharing presumption rewards all parents, regardless of whether a parent has historically and consistently acted contrary to, or even compromised, the child’s best interests.

While HB 843 and SB 1832 should be rejected primarily because they do away with long-term alimony and adopt the presumption of equal timesharing, among other elements, there are common-sense changes that Florida lawmakers could consider that would improve upon our system while also maintaining fairness to all parties involved.

Common-sense changes that could be made to Florida’s alimony system include making normal retirement a change in circumstances for alimony, changes to supportive relationships and codifying in exceptional circumstances that the court can award life insurance.

The bottom line: Hasty changes to alimony reform won’t yield better results for Florida families. This is an issue that has far-reaching effects for all parties involved; therefore, we recommend seriously considering the real-life impacts changes to the existing system would have on Florida families.

We ask Florida lawmakers to keep in mind our state’s families, especially women, children and seniors, that would be adversely affected by HB 843 and SB 1832 and stand with them against this legislation.

___

Amy Hamlin is chair of the Family Law Section of The Florida Bar.

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58 Comments

58 Comments

  1. Ray Blacklidge

    February 10, 2020 at 11:12 am

    Perhaps Sweeping alimony changes will hurt Florida Family Attorneys?

    I know presumptions do away with legal arguments but hurt Florida Families, really? Amy is correct, “long-term alimony can always be modified at a judge’s discretion, upon a significant change in circumstance or a supportive relationship. The only way that long-term alimony cannot be modified is if the parties agree to it as part of the divorce settlement.” Well Amy to go back to Court, even with good reasons, costs a Florida Family a big chunk of money that goes right into the pockets of the Family Law Attorney’s of The Florida Bar. While Amy’s suggested law changes are a step in the right direction, the suggestions are decades late and why didn’t the Family Law Section of the Florida Bar propose and have enacted these changes before today?

    Contrary to Amy’s assertions, the proposed law changes of HB 843 and SB 1832 haven’t been done in haste, it has been a numerous year effort to fix real problems with the Florida Alimony Laws.

    Pass HB 843 and SB 1832!

  2. Terrance Power

    February 10, 2020 at 11:21 am

    “Hasty changes”??

    Family Law Reform is probably the most well-vetted subject in the Florida Legislature!

    The only “Florida Families who will be hurt” by fixing a broken system are the families of predatory litigating divorce attorneys, since there will be little left to fight about. That’s why they’re fighting any change in the law.

    Follow the money.That’s the REAL “bottom line” for the $2 billion/year (in Florida) divorce attorney industry.

    Please pass HB 843 and SB 1832!

    • Jim Thompson

      February 10, 2020 at 2:31 pm

      Terry Power…..are you the one who falsely file for food stamps while you unsuccessfully ran for the Florida House. When you lost you fled the state with fugitive warrants for not following court orders? Oh yep. Listen to you. Pathetic. Man up! Anyone who doesn’t believe me just google Terry Power.

      • Patrick Brady

        February 10, 2020 at 3:02 pm

        Wow, faced with this compelling argument, Jim, I am switching my vote. NOT!

        How about some actual, factual, objections to the text of the bill. Is that possible or are ad hominem attacks all you have?

        • Jim Thompson

          February 11, 2020 at 12:05 am

          Actually, that was a very compelling argument. Who would listen to someone who tries to defraud our government. This is the lowest type of man. Making fun of people who receive benefits but secretly trying to rob the government of them. Disgusting.

          • Sara Staffman

            February 11, 2020 at 12:42 pm

            Wrong.

          • Jennifer

            February 13, 2020 at 10:23 am

            Thank you Jim. Let’s not forget the unrelenting bullying of the opponents of this bill and their UNDERAGE children. And there IS proof of that.

  3. Alan Elkins, Esq.

    February 10, 2020 at 11:24 am

    Amy, with all due respect our current alimony system is broken. I am a practicing family law attorney with 40 years of experience. I have also been paying permanent alimony for 20 years. In my opinion, guidelines are fair for several reasons including that we will get consistent rulings from our judges. I’m sure you know the joke that the courthouse is the biggest casino in the state when you leave your fate up to the judge to determine how much alimony and for how long one will pay. Also, the second point is that this bill will provide that payee become self-sufficient after a reasonable period of time.

    To be clear, our bill is not anti-alimony it is anti permanent alimony. No matter what you call it in your letter, permanent means in perpetuity. Also, the reader should understand how expensive it is to attempt to modify a permanent modifiable judgment.

    As to your last point regarding time sharing, the bill simply has as a starting point that both parties be on an equal playing field.

    • Jim Thompson

      February 11, 2020 at 12:12 am

      Did you let the readers of your comment know that when you received your alimony judgement the laws were different. Alimony laws were updated in 2012 and now a judge only awards lifetime alimony for very extreme circumstances which should always be there to protect the most vulnerable. What if you divorce your wife of 30 years who has Parkinson’s? Yeah. She’s going to need permanent alimony. You guys like to make people think this is some kind of epidemic in Florida when the truth is the opposite. This is rarely awarded and when it is it’s justified. You can always go in for a modification now. You’re an attorney and you know that. Don’t mislead people.

    • Murielle Fournier

      February 13, 2020 at 6:12 am

      Attorney Alan Elkin represents a deadbeat who owes almost $400,00 In back support. His client has an arrest warrant and went to plan B. He defends the deadbeat!

      What about people who hide and dissipate
      Assets??? What’s the remedy Alan? Your client did that.

      • Murielle Fournier

        February 13, 2020 at 10:00 pm

        It’s almost $400,000. Alan has zero credibility.

    • Cheryl

      February 15, 2020 at 1:45 am

      Alan ELkins, Esq.
      Why should parents be on an equal playing field post-divorce if they weren’t on an equal playing field caring for the child(ren)during the marriage. In addition, the state can’t make the presumption that equal time sharing be the starting point for parents that have been married only. This will be the presumption for single parents as well. Once again, fathers, in particular, will be given the state’s blessing to shirk financial support of their children while the burden of financial and the actual physical care giving of the child is dumped on the mother’s lap. Oh, and the judges love to initially chastise the mother when she takes the non-paying parent to court for the delinquent payments. Paradigms shift once the judge learns that the mother’s household doesn’t qualify for federal entitlements like SNAP because the monthly ordered CS amount is considered paid, even though it hasn’t been for months. Then the judge threatens the dead-beat with jail. I know children whose father doesn’t abide by the ordered visitation and rest assured, the moms of these children “suck it up, butter cup” and don’t take him back to court for CS re-calculation because they understand that if their child’s father doesn’t want to exercise visitation, she can’t force him to parent his child.

      • Bruce

        February 15, 2020 at 7:49 am

        “Why should parents be on an equal playing field post-divorce if they weren’t on an equal playing field caring for the child(ren)during the marriage.”
        Notice how you presume they weren’t?
        That is the sexist lie this bill seeks to mitigate.

  4. Michael McAuliffe

    February 10, 2020 at 11:57 am

    It’s no surprise that the chair of Florida’s largest anti-reform organization would claim these these reforms are “hasty”, and continue to advocate keeping the status quo on laws that were written over 100 years ago. The sad truth is that the CURRENT LAWS HURT Florida families, and continues to enable profiteering in an industry that preys on families in crisis. Read the hundreds of horror stories posted by Florida voters on how the current laws have wrecked their families and their lives at:

    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1S49ASa2PGDA4nCkH9JAIvfRL29DUCnfCCHhkYgKfy88/edit?usp=sharing

    • Brandan Babineaux

      February 11, 2020 at 11:26 am

      Thank you

    • Jennifer

      February 13, 2020 at 10:28 am

      You are so concerned with the alimony portion of this bill. People are letting the forced 50/50 shared parenting portion just slide right under the radar. People say when I bring up cases of abuse that abuse is mentioned. What they fail to mention is that in recent years cases of abuse are sliding in under the wire because victim are learning that mentioning abuse is a sure fire way to lose all contact with yourchild. So you do as many of us have done, pray that YOUR Child is safe and protected when I’m unsupervised contact with the abuser until they are out. How sad that a living parent has to hope that their child ages out quickly so they don’t get abused. No chance to enjoy that childhood, raise the child – just hurry up and turn 18. Grow up so you can cut the abuser off yourself.

  5. Patrick Brady

    February 10, 2020 at 1:23 pm

    HB 843 and its Senate companion should become law. Ms. Hamlin claims that lifetime alimony can be modified. The modification is extremely expensive and there are no guaranteed outcomes because current Florida law allows for way too much “judicial discretion,” that is judicial subjectivity.

    HB 843 provides clear statutory guidelines that will bring fairness and continuity to the application of our laws. Lifetime alimony should be abolished, leaving three other forms of alimony available for an obligee, the person receiving alimony. But the new law, which has been debated for the past eight years, recognizes that there is a terminus to alimony. The culture of dependency must end. The Florida Legislature must pass this excellent legislation to model the 44 other states that have already adopted it. Federalism works, give it a try!

  6. Jean-Marie Graham

    February 10, 2020 at 2:07 pm

    I have only recently realized that Florida has a thing called permanent alimony and still cannot believe that this is the policy of our state. Thankfully, HB 843 and SB 1832 will end this archaic practice and update our laws to reflect modern day America. The public policy of the state of Florida should be self-reliance and work, not welfare. Short-term or durational alimony may be appropriate, and the proposed laws will allow judges to decide this on a case-by-case basis while eliminating this terrible concept of permanent alimony that is imposed by the court. It would allow it if the parties involved agree. Current family law benefits attorneys, not Florida’s families.

    YES ON HB 843/SB 1832!!!!

  7. John Tenant

    February 10, 2020 at 2:36 pm

    Same old 10 men trying to get out of their responsibilities to their family. Please stop complaining. Get over it. Wasting time for good bills.

    • Michel Andre Buhler

      February 10, 2020 at 3:07 pm

      I have spoken or interacted via survey with hundreds of alimony payor subject to permanent alimony. The reality is that the largest proportion of these people (men and women) tried to do right by their families at every turn. They split their assets 50/50 at dissolution. Paid child support and have always paid. When they found themselves out of a job or retiring, they tried to modify and divorce lawyers fleeced them with the help of overburdened judges that permit all the acrimony, including using their kids against them. Alimony Payors, as the word connotes, are paying and are upstanding citizens of this state that for a marriage that didn’t work out deserve to be treated with respect, dignity and courtesy. Until you are faced with incarceration or forfeiture of assets because you are unable to continue alimony payments well after having supported an ex spouse for a period of time for him/her to be self-sufficient, you will continue to lob insults at this respected and much maligned group of people.

      • Jennifer

        February 13, 2020 at 10:32 am

        Alimony mayors are paying. Or are they? Nearly every day their pages and groups post about Plan B. Leave the state. Go to a state that does not allow garnishing social security. Lie, deplete assets. Well businesses and property to girlfriends or siblings or trusted friends. Divorce subsequent spouses so you can mislead the courts about your true expenses. Sounds like they pay to me.

    • Bob Sell

      February 10, 2020 at 8:57 pm

      You sound completely ignorant of this issue. Is that on purpose?

  8. Tina Murphy

    February 10, 2020 at 2:43 pm

    After reading Ms. Hamlin’s opinion, I strongly encourage members of the legislature to resoundingly vote YES on HB 843 and SB 1832.

    First, ending permanent alimony only makes sense, like almost every other state in the union has done. Also, it will allow people to retire with dignity. If you care about senior citizens, then vote yes on this.

    Finally, the 50-50 rebuttal presumption is good policy. Unless the parties agree to a different arrangement, there is a 50-50 time-share split that recognizes the importance of mothers AND fathers in child rearing. Ms. Hamlin want’s to keep up is the dark ages of the so-called “tender years” doctrine with its destructive gender role stereotypes. If a parent is alleged to be negligent by the other parent, it SHOULD be proved with evidence not hearsay. Thank you Rep. Andrade and Sen. Stargel for your leadership. VOTE YES!!

  9. Marina B.

    February 10, 2020 at 2:51 pm

    I disagree with the author of the article. The alimony reform bill is long overdue and should be passed post haste. This bill has been vetted, debated, argued, tweeked, and amended like no other. It’s time has come . . .

    Lifetime alimony is unfair and should be eliminated. Retirement should be an automatic termination of alimony, allowing senior citizens to retire without depleting their limited resources to convince a judge it is the right thing to do. And we need consistency in how the law is applied. You can take the same case to the same court house, have two different judges hear it and come to two totally different conclusions. This needs to end. I support HB 843!

  10. Michel Andre Buhler

    February 10, 2020 at 2:55 pm

    Ms Hamlin seeks to perpetuate a multi-billion divorce industry by preserving wide latitude for (overburdened and not always interested) judges to basically allow divorce lawyers to escalate fighting and fees at dissolution and at modification. Please see our response via the editorial below:

    https://www.miamiherald.com/opinion/letters-to-the-editor/article239595603.html

  11. Anonymous

    February 10, 2020 at 4:16 pm

    Everything Amy has written is exactly right, this coming from the daughter of an alimony recipient. ‘Fess up you cowards: you just don’t want to pay alimony after making a serious commitment to your ex-wifes, and you just want to leave them homeless and destitute. Don’t like the truth? News flash: you should have never gotten married! #VoteNOAgainstHB843

    • Bob Sell

      February 10, 2020 at 9:00 pm

      Misandry much?

      • Mark Harris

        February 11, 2020 at 12:02 am

        No. I don’t think that’s misandry. Our country was at its best with stay at home mothers. Their value is immeasurable. Recent studies have stated stay at home mothers are on the rise as people realize how much the latchkey kids struggled. Having a main support system at home reduces crime and produces stronger and more confident children. These women need some protection.

        • Sara Staffman

          February 11, 2020 at 12:38 pm

          Mark,
          Nice try, but 78% of all divorces are filed by women. It is women who are divorcing their husbands, by and large husbands do not divorce their wives. This is because the state of Florida has created a financial incentive for divorce rather than reconciliation.

          Lots of women can work at home due to the advent of the information age. Your post would make sense, in 1950. Thanks for the effort, but we are leaving your views on public policy behind.

  12. Jason Savidge

    February 10, 2020 at 5:30 pm

    Amy Hamlin,

    Until the mid 70’s when it was socially unacceptable for women to work outside of the household and maintain a legitimate career, yes, Spousal Maintenance (Alimony) was acceptable. Since then, the national family dynamic has changed significantly and the majority of women have successful employment in every facet of the economic machine.

    Stop destroying individuals who are merely seeking a legal end to a failed relationship. Spousal Maintenance is an archaic system that no longer has a place in our society. Stop the madness in “Family Court” and let individuals take responsibility for their own lives. Stop Spousal Maintenance and stop the adversarial system.

    • Anonymous

      February 10, 2020 at 5:51 pm

      Actually Jason, even now with the career and educational opportunities available to women child rearing is still associated with them. Men are never asked ‘When are you having children?’ or ‘Why are you putting your career before your children?’ So you see, even now it’s a catch-22 for women. I can’t imagine how bad it was for women growing up in the 70s and 80s, who were still being pressured to have families and take care of the children. This is why permanent alimony is still necessary, for women who’ve basically been pressured by society and by their husbands to stay home and care for the children. Facing that kind of pressure is not easy, and clearly alimony payers can’t even take the pressure to meet a commitment that they made to their wives, and just pay their alimony. It’s not that hard, but the ones fighting for this reform are tearing their own families apart. It’s not attorneys who are at fault, but those alimony payers who can’t face the consequences of their actions to get married. They’re the only reason attorneys benefit from this. My point: permanent alimony is absolutely necessary, and until the culture changes so that men don’t feel intimidated by strong independent women, it will always be necessary.

      • Jason Savidge

        February 10, 2020 at 6:55 pm

        Anonymous,

        If there are “strong and independent women” as you state, then why would they cave to pressure, sacrifice their independence and their career to stay home with children. Children are the responsibility of both parents, not one or the other, and society has changed to except that dynamic. Take responsibility for your individual life and be accountable for “your” decision. Especially once you’re divorced, go out and make a living of your own. Don’t be dependent on someone else’s income to support your life.

        • Anonymous

          February 10, 2020 at 7:33 pm

          Clearly you don’t read very well because I stated until all men are comfortable with the idea of strong and independent women–which many don’t seem to be–then there’s no room for doing away with permanent alimony. Maybe read more carefully next time, yeah?

          • Jason Savidge

            February 10, 2020 at 8:17 pm

            Hello Anonymous,

            You completely invalidate your entire argument in your own response.

            You see, if you’re “strong and independent” then you’re not dependent on someone else, i.e. your spouse or ex-spouse. If you were in fact “strong and independent”, then you would have made a decision to secure your own financial stability instead of relying on your spouse. That makes you dependent, i.e. the reason you rely on Spousal Maintenance to support your life.

            Also, if you were “strong and independent” then you wouldn’t rely on a man’s perception as to whether they (men) were comfortable with anything. You would have made a sound decision as a strong and independent person. Apparently, you didn’t do that.

            Now, because of your bad decision making, you have to rely on another person’s income to support your life. It’s modified welfare.

            In stead of taking responsibility for yourself, you’ve pass that burden onto your ex-spouse. This is the problem with Spousal Support.

        • JB

          February 11, 2020 at 5:09 pm

          Exactly

    • Cheryl

      February 15, 2020 at 1:59 am

      Jason,
      I call BS.
      In the 1990s and early 2000s, in my community, women would be docked pay and forced to take time off from work for going to prenatal appointments during the workday. Or if a mom had to stay home with a sick child, or pick a sick child up from school, boom…the mom would be given a number of points that accumulated in a quarter. Too many points, and mom was out of a job. Taking care of the children was women’s work in my community (and in many workplaces is still viewed as such). Fathers did not leave work to care for their children back then, period. So were not talking about the 70’s and 80’s here. We’re talking about a time frame from 15 to 30 years ago.

  13. Shawn Pearson

    February 10, 2020 at 5:42 pm

    As a man who receives alimony, I have a different take, and definitely slay the stereotype of those who oppose these bills. Alimony should never be intended as punishment for marriage, as some have clearly indicated. As for the equal shared parenting, it’s clearly designed to reset the starting point. Currently the cookie cutter system is set up in such a way to maximize the stress and disagreement that comes with divorce and the only people who benefit are those from the BAR association. Setting the default at 50/50, where it belongs, reduces the fighting and winner takes all attitude currently found in custody/divorce cases. Vote yes!

    • Anonymous

      February 10, 2020 at 6:19 pm

      Alimony is not punishment but a just consequence of making a lifetime commitment to someone, especially when a payer pressured his/her ex-spouse to stay home when they were married. If you’re going to do that, how do you expect this person to survive post-divorce if he/she doesn’t get alimony? You can’t have it both ways, and if you didn’t want that kind of responsibility then you shouldn’t have gotten married! Easy. This is about learning to be responsible that’s all, and quite frankly that’s what these payers should have been taught when they were growing up, but clearly they think they’re still in high school.

      • Jason Savidge

        February 10, 2020 at 7:02 pm

        Anonymous,

        Statistically, there is a 50% chance that your first marriage will end in divorce. This is a widely known and excepted fact. Again, using the excuse of being pressured into not safeguarding your own future is just that, an excuse. Yes, you’re correct that you can’t have it both ways. So when your marriage ends and you have to fend for yourself in life, pay your own mortgage, buy your own groceries, pay your own auto loan and every other aspect of adulthood, what are you going to do? Taking money that you haven’t earned from someone else isn’t the answer. Take responsibility for your decisions and your life.

        • Anonymous

          February 10, 2020 at 7:41 pm

          So you’re telling me cleaning, cooking, taking care of the children and husband emotionally isn’t work and doesn’t deserve payment? I guess I should expect that response.

          • Jason Savidge

            February 10, 2020 at 8:28 pm

            Cooking, cleaning, taking care of children that you’ve willfully birthed are basic responsibilities of life. Are you implying that your ex-spouse didn’t cook, clean or take care of children? Did your ex-spouse do anything other than go to work? Did they mow the grass, paint the house, do maintenance on the vehicles, repair appliances?

            You see, life is full of daily responsibilities that individuals within a relationship take on. So to say that you clean, cook, and look after children is daily responsibility. It doesn’t make you any better or worse then your spouse.

            These are things you have to recognize before you marry a person.

            To answer your question, no, you don’t deserve payment for these chores. It’s a responsibility each individual takes on in their own lives. It has no financial value and it surly doesn’t justify the forfeiture of someone else’s income.

            Just out of curiosity, how old are you? The reason I ask is because you come across as somewhat self entitled and emotionally immature.

          • Bob Sell

            February 10, 2020 at 9:03 pm

            Was the choice to do those things made with full knowledge that the state would intervene if the marriage failed?

          • JB

            February 11, 2020 at 5:18 pm

            Anonymous, but you was paid for cooking, cleaning, taking care of your children and husband (although I find it weird that you think you should be compensated for raising kids you decided to have) during the marriage. How did you eat during the marriage? Who paid for your health insurance? How did you see a doctor when you got sick? Who put clothes on your back? You see that’s the exchange. During the marriage, he works outside the home and pays all of the bills, while you work inside of the home. Your compensation is not having to pay bills or have any other financial responsibility like most adults.

      • Tim Shepard

        February 10, 2020 at 7:20 pm

        And yet the current system REWARDS the party who abandons their “lifelong Commitment” and punishes the party who wants to keep the commitment? How do you explain that?

      • Cheryl

        February 15, 2020 at 2:26 am

        Anonymous,
        The state and people expect the ex-wife to do exactly as she had done in the marriage by continuing to care for the children. However, she is expected to go back to school or participate in some type of job training. She’s expected to use student loans toward her personal expenses and for her share of child support for the children. After job training, she is expected to establish a career, pay taxes,and ride off happy into the sunset.

        Btw, you have made many great points, but I disagree with you that alimony should be for life. I believe there are few circumstances where permanent alimony should be awarded. Those circumstances would include a disabled spouse or disabled child of the marriage.

        If there is a serious situation that prevents a former spouse from working and being self-sufficient, like a documented disability or caring for a disabled minor/adult child, then that individual should receive extended spousal support. Otherwise, spousal support should be given a specific time frame at a pre-set calculated amount. People have the right to move on after a divorce and start a new family if they choose.

        However, the proposed bills barely address spousal disability and do not address the sacrifices a parent caregiver consistently makes for a disabled child (saving both the other parent and state of Florida a heck of a lot of time and money). Alimony recipients in these circumstances will be in financial jeopardy with limited support.

  14. Mark Elias

    February 10, 2020 at 6:18 pm

    Alimony and child sharing are two different topics which should be bifurcated so as one does not impinge on the other. Yet no one seems to put that into the bills. That’s why it won’t pass. As long as both are part of the same bill, you are holding two non-starting pieces of paper. Separate the bills, ie: one pertaining to alimony and one pertaining to visitation to give both a fighting chance.

  15. Tim Shepard

    February 10, 2020 at 7:17 pm

    It was a revelation to me to learn how crooked unethical and self interested Florida’s Bar Community is, 10 years ago, I am all too familiar with fake calls they put out, trying to keep fleecing us the public. They will never give up their corrupt hold on the pockets of our long suffering families. Fie on you Amy Hanlin, we are on to you and your cohorts greed, and hopefully someday, all lawyers will pay a lesson for what they have done to the honest people of Florida and America. Your day is nigh.

  16. Mark Harris

    February 10, 2020 at 11:56 pm

    Florida has an amazing system for awarding alimony. So long as we have legal marriage in Florida we need an alimony system that protects the stay at home spouse and the traditional families who are the heart of conservative values. I hope people don’t think the men who left derogatory comments on here speak for all men. Real men take care of their families. If you don’t want the responsibility of being married then don’t do it. It’s not required. Nobody forced you.

  17. Michel (Michael) Bühler

    February 11, 2020 at 6:53 am

    Alimony = marriage unemployment insurance. For a limited time and limited amount.

  18. Sonia Alvarez

    February 11, 2020 at 11:03 am

    I would like to know how many people has been successful with a “modification” based on change of circumstances or a supportive relationship? We have spent a fortune in the hands of predatory family lawyers, who drag these cases with the purpose of continue billing exhorbitant hourly rates, buying time for the other party to leave their jobs and “move out” the day of the hearing. We have also been told that there is no penalty for perjury in family court, so if you are an honest citizen, how can you get justice when it is evident that the other party is lying? Unfortunately, this is “lifetime” because now is another few years to recover from the modification financial loss, and we can’t afford a modification regardless of the evidence.

    • Jennifer

      February 13, 2020 at 10:43 am

      Not alimony related, but my ex modified child support after only 4 months, all arrears were erased from the date of the doctor statement (which was before the filing date) and it was that way for almost a year. And it cost him NOTHING. Filing a motion in court is fifty bucks (unless you fill out indigent paperwork) then it is free. Motion paperwork is available on florida courts self help website. Filling it out only takes a few hours if that. These alimony payers seem to have a certain level of intelligence so how can it be that difficult for them. Instead they go rogue, plan b trying to find ways to disobey what was an agreed upon contract in their MSA, very few alimony orders are court ordered.

      Opponents speak of elderly women being homeless. They likely won’t be homeless, what will happen is they will work until they die, they will rent cheap rooms after having to sell the few assets they gained after the divorce, or they will live with family (children, grandchildren). These pastors make it nearly impossible for the women to move on because even post divorce, they invade our lives trying to destroy us.

  19. GetOffYourAssAndGetAJob

    February 11, 2020 at 12:02 pm

    This article is so self serving that the author should be absolutely embarrassed.

    I work 100% commission for 20 years. Some years are good and some years are bad. Never have we had a steady income. I’ve spent 75% of my life savings on attorneys, $250,000, because of an unethical $450 / hour attorney from my ex and her refusal to accept anything reasonable and her refusal to work at 40 years old. It’s sad and ridiculous. Please end these prehistoric laws and out something in place that actually works for people.

  20. Natalie Willis

    February 11, 2020 at 2:41 pm

    The only ones who will be hurt if needed reform passes , will be the family law attorneys who get 300 to 800 dollars an hour for arguing over as much as possible.There are few guidelines currently which has led to harmful litigation. Fair laws will make alimony more equitable and predictable. Alimony will not be eliminated. Long term marriages will still receive long term alimony. It’s time for the greed of the Family Law Section of the Florida Bar to be exposed.

    • Jennifer

      February 13, 2020 at 10:51 am

      This is not true. A 30 year marriage under this law would be eligible for 15 years. But the partners in this marriage would likely be at least 50 years old, if not older. So that 15 years would disappear the instant the payor retires. Let’s explain this so people unaware of the games your group plays can understand. Woman goes to college, meets man. Remarry at 25. Divorce at 55. They have 2.5 children. She stayed home to raise the children, supporting her spouse as he furthered his education. Separate at 55, file for divorce. Divorce finalized in three years. Maybe less maybe more because you know that man doesn’t want to give that b**** any of HIS money. So now they are 58/59/60. Man retires at 65. So woman only gets five years of alimony.

      Stop misleading people PLEASE!

  21. Jerry

    February 11, 2020 at 4:31 pm

    Much has been written by the far right wing pushing this legislation arguing that most states have eliminated permanent alimony. They argue that it is long overdue for Florida to follow suit. This is very misleading for a number of important reasons. First, Florida had no equitable distribution statute until 1988. Second, few Floridians were born here. Most relocated here in search of paradise and some brought a laundry list of problems with them when they came in search of place to solve their problems, some of which were their own making. They came here as deadbeat dads and moms. They came here hiding from the law. They came here from nearly all 50 states. And many came here already married. The places they married treated assets and support differently than Florida did which operated without an equitable distribution statute until 1988.

    To deal with the many varied problems, judges were accorded wide discretion, and this discretion was carried into post 1988 years. The seminal case that explained Florida’s rational was decided by our supreme court in 1980. It was Canakaris v. Canakaris, 382 So.2d 1197 (Fla. 1980) decided January 31, 1980. It sets forth the various forms of alimony, the purpose for each, the standards used deciding which alimony is appropropriate, what factors should be considered determining how much, how and when it terminates, and what criteria must be used for modifying the alimony both in its amount and duration. The ruling also addressed property that may be awarded, and how property and alimony may be used to fashion a result that applied to the circumstances of each factual case the trial court decided. The ruling also established the operating principles upon which a reviewing court would oversee the matter tried. There were two: 1) the abuse of discretion standard; and 2) the de novo standard. It defined both. It also required that the standard be cited in the appeal upon which the appellant sought review. And most importantly, when the review involved the abuse of discretion standard that the reviewing court would view everything the court did on the entire case in assessing whether the court abused its discretion because trial courts under Florida law were accorded wide latitude with treating both property and support as an overall scheme, where one of the two could be used to compensate for the lack or lesser of the other. Much of this had to do with the influx of people from all backgrounds and from all different cultures.

    This treatment was used to enforce the award of property before the creation of the equitable distribution and before the standards were enacted for determining what is marital property and how it is measured. The January 2020 Bar Journal contains an article in the family law section that addresses how the termination of permanent alimony will empower people that do not want to share property earned as marital partners to avoid listening to the courts. As the problems with enforcement of property awards cause just as much discontent as paying support does, spousal theft of property awards has been rising sharply. People want to retain the property they earn by their own labors, reject the concept of marital partnership, and therefore object to the rule of law when its suits their own purpose.

    These two bills do far more than end support as we know it. Both undermine the 1988 equitable distribution statute in a number of important ways. It does this not just by ending alimony, but by defining parameters that unlevel the playing field in favor of the spouse that controls the assets. It does this first by penalizing the poorer spouse for collecting temporary alimony during the litigation by requiring that the time count against what may be awarded afterwards. It does so by allowing the controlling spouse the ability to fight a 50/50 award of assets and then bifurcate the divorce itself from the division of assets after one year. Each bill strips the court of its most effective means for enforcing its orders with dividing property and support both by eliminating permanent alimony even when one spouse steals all the assets, severely limiting the amount of temporary alimony and stripping the trial court of enforcement by contempt by severely limiting what assets can be used to purge the contempt. In short, these bills invite the unhappy spouse to ignore court orders. It allows the party that controls the assets in the marriage to use fear to keep the other spouse from leaving because that spouse will be left without assets and without an income just as they were 75 years ago. Make no mistake about it. This is far right wing agenda having little to do with fixing the statute as it currently stands.

    • Steve Williams

      February 11, 2020 at 9:51 pm

      Jerry,
      This was a waste of time. The bill is now bi-partisan as a Democratic representative has joined to pass the bill today. In addition, there are left-leaning Democrat Senators that are on board too. So this right-wing business is bogus. Next, divorce and family law should not be determined by “seminal court rulings.” They should be decided by statutes. The law should be made by the elected representatives of the people in the legislature, not the Gnostics on the court.

    • Bobby Vox

      February 12, 2020 at 9:47 am

      Jerry,your interpretation and representation of these new changes is just plain wrong and incorrect. I suggest you reread the proposed Bill.

  22. Cheryl

    February 15, 2020 at 4:02 am

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