Judges in Florida are effectively handing down life sentences in divorce cases, with both men and women walking away from court burdened with alimony payments for the rest of their lives.
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.
April 13, 2021 at 7:25 pm
Great article, and Thank You for simply stating the facts.
It’s long past time to move Florida into the 21st Century.
April 13, 2021 at 8:38 pm
I live in Texas. But if I were in Florida I’d vote for you!!
April 13, 2021 at 8:40 pm
This article is completely false. Many states have permanent alimony. Including ones that have gone through ’reform’ such as Alabama and Massachusetts. The reason? Because their are still many stay at home mothers in marriages. Rodriguez quotes that 40% of women are the breadwinners but that includes single mother homes. Full of misinformation. Out of Florida’s married couples with children over 30% have a stay at home parent! Please ask Rodriguez to retract his article.
April 13, 2021 at 8:55 pm
As a working woman, and a mom, Im looking forward to Florida finally changing it’s antiquated laws.
Women are not helpless like some would have you believe.
We can take care of ourselves .
A lifetime of independence is better than an eternity of dependence
April 13, 2021 at 11:16 pm
Alimony is a necessity in modern life but the administration of alimony should be much more predictable. Currently most divorces in Florida are settled out of court. The guidelines for the settlements are generally up to the attorneys and mediators who usually are selected by the attorneys. Prior case law points but is no real guide. No matter which side you are on there should be some defined general guidelines to reduce legal fees and protect both sides. Prior settlements and an explanation of what the judge usually does is a bad example of guidelines for settlement. Lawyers should represent and not make de facto law for marital settlements.
Divorce is a traumatic event in peoples lives. Decisions are sometimes made out of anger or fear and relying on two attorneys to settle a major life event without a road map is a recipe for disaster. Games will be played at the cost of home equity , children’s college education, retirement and other of life’s necessity’s.
Whether you are for or against the current bills people need to ask the legislators of the State of Florida to provide clear and fair laws to guide individuals and their attorneys in the divorce settlement process. The current system is not of benefit to the people divorcing. As in any change not everyone will be pleased but the the legislators will be making the laws and not ceding that function to attorneys and mediators. Florida law makers please do your job.
April 14, 2021 at 9:29 am
As a Financial Advisor, Certified Divorce Financial Analyst and the former President of Family Law Reform (now Florida Family Fairness) I applaud your effort to reform our outdated and financially hurtful alimony law. Ten years ago, with the guidance Rep Rich Workman, I helped lead a group of alimony reformers to Tallahassee to begin the process of educating our Legislators for the need of reforming current alimony (family) law. The hands of justice move slowly, especially when the Family Section of the Florida Bar (the most powerful lobby in Tallahassee) financially support certain key Legislator campaigns, and when a certain Governor cares more about his personal political aspirations than listening to the major majority of our elected Legislators. But as they say, justice will eventually prevail. It took over ten years, and many set backs for sure, but our alimony reformers didn’t go away and we now have many family law lawyers, Legislators and a Governor who believe in fairness for families that allow for divorcing parents to move forward with their lives without having to be financially tied together by permanent alimony law. The new proposed legislation includes an appropriate formula for the amount of alimony ordered by a judge (as we have always had for child support) as well as the elimination, once and for all, of permanent alimony. This new proposed law will not be welcomed by the National Organization of Women who, in my opinion, have been incredibly hypocritical in their objection to the proposed law all along, or the Lawyers of Family Section of the Florida Bar, who derive their revenue from the continued infighting from divorcing couples. However, the new law will be welcomed by the thousands of divorcing couples who can now move on with their lives with more certainty of the amounts they will pay and for how long they will pay it. It’s time that we accept this proposed law into actual law. Again, thank you so much for taking the reins and leading this effort. Florida’s divorcing families will thank you many years into the future.
April 18, 2021 at 5:29 pm
I hope this bill is approved and we can finally see changes in Florida. As a working wife and mother, I have seen the challenges of a Divorce, but I also think that the real changes and opportunities come when you start moving past divorce and independence. It is time, that we give all men or women, the opportunity to have a respectful life and work towards Happiness!
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