Divorce in the United States is just as common as marriage, and one would be hard pressed to find someone who has not been affected by divorce. For many people divorce means the end of one life and the start of a new one. But some individuals are not able to start over completely because they are still tied to their ex-spouse through alimony payments. Permanent alimony has become a hurdle to many trying to start their life over with someone new. Pressure to change currently alimony laws is coming from an unexpected group -- women who are seeking to marry individuals who have an alimony liability to an ex-spouse.
The group Second Wives Club, which unsuccessfully tried to change Florida's divorce laws last year, hasn't given up the fight. The leader of the group is a woman who does not want to marry her fiancé because he is a permanent alimony payer. She fears her income will be used to increase his monthly payments to his ex-spouse -- a fear that could be made reality under current Florida law. Last year's alimony reform bill, which made it out of the House but not the Senate, has now been revamped. The group Florida Alimony Reform plans to have it filed in the upcoming legislative session.
If passed, the bill will effectively ban permanent alimony and would not allow a new spouse's income to be taken into consideration when determining payment amounts. The bill would also take into consideration the number of years a couple was married, both parties' incomes and other factors when reaching an alimony decision. This formula approach would be closer to child support guidelines and would help prevent judges from using alimony as a punishment against one spouse.
Many permanent alimony payers will have to continue paying until their former spouse dies or re-marries. This condition may encourage those receiving payments to never re-marry. But the era that permanent alimony was created for has ended and the laws should be updated to reflect that change.
Source: WFSU, "Proposed Alimony Overhaul Pits Reformers Against Divorce Lawyers," Jessica Palombo, Dec. 7, 2012