I've been practicing for about 30 years now - most of it in family law, and Florida’s finally doing away with permanent alimony is long overdue – about 150 years overdue, in fact!
This is 2013! We all support smashing the 'glass ceiling' in the workplace, equal pay for equal work, women in combat, burning bras, and in general any and pretty much every other cause that holds women as competent and capable as men...and that's the way I certainly raised my own daughter to be. It’s time to pass House Bill 213/Senate Bill 718 which finally treats divorced adult women as adults instead of disabled incompetents who cannot survive after divorce with enslaving their ex-husband for life through alimony payments - and vice versa for any man who thinks he is somehow 'entitled' to a substantial part of his ex-wife's income for life so he doesn't have to act like an adult after his marriage fails!
Alimony is nothing more than an involuntary servitude, and it should have been abolished in 1865 along with the rest of slavery! It apparently only began in old England becasue there was no other means of equitable distribution since most married couples owned only one asset - their farm. If they divorced, the husband had to keep it since women couldn't hold title to real property under English Law and thus it couldn't be split! Also, banks wouldn't lend husband's money to buy out their wife's interest in those days, as banks really only lent to the rich then (merchants, not farmers). The reason alimony ended upon remarriage of the wife wasn't because it was support, and it wasn't to shortchange her equitable distribution share - it was because the woman ceased to exist as a legal entity once she remarried (As Blackstone explained then: "When a man and woman marry, they become one, and the one is a him"). Anyway, the roots of alimony were never understood nor transferred to the Colonies although the English Common Laws were, and so alimony has continued ever since under the wrong presumptions to the point where it mistakenly became a presumed “entitlement” ON TOP of Equitable Distribution - double counting actually if you understand its roots! It's long past time to end this farce and allow Adult American Women to "put on their Big Girl pants" and act like adults even when they get divorced! They AREN'T helpless! They AREN'T incompetent. They AREN'T disabled.
You are an adult and YOU work for a living....just like I do! Most of the adult females you know do too, I'll bet. What's wrong with adult human females who get divorced working to support themselves also? They really don't become disabled simply because they got married, maybe raised some kids, and then got divorced, do they? Widows don't get alimony! Women who never marry don't get it. Women who don't stay married for long enough to qualify don't get any either.
What makes those women who stayed married longer before they were dumped, before they dumped their husbands, or before they were caught in their affairs, or before they just "fell out of love with him" any less able to work and support themselves as adults thereafter than all the other women who aren't married and don't get alimony??? What image are they projecting to their kids? Self-image, self-esteem, and the example they set for their children by going to work instead of living off their ex-husbands as entitlement subsistence 'slugs' is a plus for them and their children.
Society simply cannot afford non-productive entitlement/alimony dependent adults to that degree, for many reasons. The TRULY disabled can be supported in our society, but the intentionally or deliberately disabled, whether its a lazy divorcee living on alimony, a kid with so many tattoos and piercings he or she is now an unemployable freak show, or a thug or druggie or malcontent who dropped out of school and expected someone else to take care of him or her forever...it's all the same - they CAN support themselves if they know they HAVE to, and they will benefit from it as will all of society.
Humans are supposed to be the most highly evolved, top of the food chain, smartest, most capable of all the animals on this planet. And if EVERY other adult female of every other species is fully capable of supporting and surviving without alimony or support of any form from their mate, then those adult human females who get married and later divorced are no different!
I have learned many times over my 30 years of practice that Men marry Women hoping and expecting they will be PARTNERS! Those that do act like partners stay married, and those that don't are divorced! The law treats marriage like a partnership when it is dissolved with the blatant and irredeemable difference that dissolved partnerships don't pay alimony or any other unearned involuntary servitude after the assets and liabilities are divided! Leave equitable distribution as the sole consequence of divorce and MAYBE we'll find wives being a bit more financially responsible hereafter too, instead of running the debt (and their attorneys fees they expect their husband will have to pay) up and then counting on alimony ever after so they can continue to sit on their butts and financially punish their ex-husband for life!
I cannot think of any other issue that is used so coercively and unfairly as alimony is in divorces! It’s the most profitable (for attorneys) issue to litigate and over-litigate! Even the attorneys fees threat under Fla. Stat. 61.16 doesn't engender as much coercion, stress, anger, and vengefulness as does alimony. Get rid of permanent alimony and limit more fairly transitional alimony, and the prohibitive cost of divorce in angst, attorneys fees, time and judicial resources will be cut by at least 25%, probably more.
If divorce is made less "profitable" for wives by the elimination of permanent alimony, then it will be made substantially less costly as well, and it may even promote married people to work harder at being good marital "partners" to preserve the marriage instead of pushing it towards divorce - because alimony makes it a 'can't lose' situation for one (and her attorney, especially) and makes it excessively coercive and unfair to the other party. Sitting on one's behind and being unproductive and useless during a marriage is one thing, and if a spouse is willing to permit it during an intact marriage, then he or she is the fool paying for it and can't complain then. However, when the marriage ends, the 'gravy train' should end too. We have a no fault divorce state here, and that precludes a lot of defenses to alimony also, which is yet another reason to do away with it. The “he let her become dependant” rationale for alimony is as ridiculous as making parents who didn’t make their kids study hard enough to get at least average income jobs after emancipation have to pay their kids for life? Ridiculous, isn’t it? WE all have to act like adults!
I used to tell Florida’s Congressmen, during breaks in session when I was asked why divorce was so costly and acrimonious that they could fix all that with one law: Pass a law requiring every couple applying for a marriage license to complete and file with the completed application a signed Divorce Settlement Agreement, and holding that if the marriage failed, then that agreement was what they were left with. I explained how that would almost certainly prevent at least 60% of marriages from ever happening, and the percentage of the 40% that did happen that ultimately got divorced might be less than 10%. The judicial workload would also drop by about 90% in family law. The next best thing is House Bill 213/Senate Bill 718! The Senate did its job for our State last week in passing it by almost a 2 to 1 margin. It's now the House's turn to move Florida into the 21st century and abolish this last bit of marital slavery. Please get it passed. It’s long overdue!