Florida’s alimony laws grew from when men served as a typical family’s main wage earners while women stayed at home. Those days are over. Both women and men work hard to support their families, with more women serving as the family’s primary economic provider.
This has happened as more women have become the primary wage earner in American households. The Women’s Bureau of the U.S. Department of Labor Women in 2017 noted how the percent of households with children under 18 in which mothers are equal, primary, or sole earners grew to 40.4% in 2017 from 15.6% in 1970.
Eternal alimony replaces everlasting love
Couples leave marriage ceremonies with the overwhelming intention of loving their spouse forever. Unfortunately, not all couples keep the promise of eternal love that their hearts made on their wedding day. People change, love dies and marriages end.
More women are now being forced to start new lives with a heavy burden of paying monthly alimony for life. For one woman I’ve met, the judge in her divorce ordered her to pay $10,000 a month. For another, the judge orders her to pay $3,500 a month. These women are unfairly carrying a lifetime sentence for ending a troubled marriage.
What this means is that these women will have to struggle to pay their own bills, run their own households, all the while being faced with paying alimony for the rest of their lives. Basically, these women will have to work forever to ensure they comply with the court-ordered permanent alimony.
Alimony reform brings fresh approach
In Florida, it’s time for us to update the tired, obsolete, and frankly reflexive approach to the award of alimony in Florida. With the support of the volunteer-run group Florida Family Fairness, I’m working with state Sen. Joe Gruters of Sarasota to build a fresh policy to retire our forever alimony law and join the 44 other states that have ended permanent alimony.
Without responsible reform, the way our system works, divorce attorneys are the only sure winners when a marriage hits the rocks.
As divorced couples set their lives off in new and different directions, our proposed legislation (CS/HB 1559/SB 1922) helps them transition toward independence and self-sufficiency.
Our responsible reform proposal to end permanent alimony approaches this issue as one of fairness, not gender. It codifies the current practice of courts to favor 50/50 timesharing as a standard. Allows parents equal access to children’s records and information.
Women lifted by Florida economic success
In Florida, we are proud of the work to make our state the best place for families to successfully live, work and grow. The earnings for Florida women have outpaced the nation. Data for 2019 from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows Florida’s women’s-to-men earnings ratio stood at 85.1%, higher than the nationwide ratio of 81.5%.
We have taken smart, principle-driven, conservative action to increase economic opportunity for people across our state, provide relief from taxes and stimulate job creation. This careful proposal to reform our out-of-date divorce laws is a reality-based one.
It’s time for change. Florida is the largest of just six states that still has permanent alimony. This is a well-measured approach that reflects the modern family living in today’s economy, where trends show that an increasing number of alimony payers are women.
When a marriage ends, each person involved deserves respect and closure. As divorced couples set their lives off in new and different directions, our proposed legislation creates predictability, uniformity, and consistency statewide while helping both parties in a divorce transition toward independence, finality, self-sufficiency, and, ultimately, increased opportunity for success in life.
Anthony Rodriguez represents Florida House District 118, which includes part of Miami-Dade County.