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Thursday,
January 14, 2021.
posted in Divorce

On behalf of The Law Office of Gustavo E. Frances, P.A.

As we enter a new year, the Florida bill to end permanent alimony is back on the table. The hot button topic has incited immense controversy in recent years. Last year, the alimony reform bill failed to make it through the legislative process. In 2020, two separate bills were introduced to reform alimony, and it is safe to say bills will continue to be presented.

What Does This Mean For You?

The Law Office of Gustavo E. Frances, P.A. is highly knowledgeable on the subject and continues to follow reform efforts. If you are thinking about divorce, the question of alimony weighs heavily for both of you. Our exceptional divorce attorneys in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, are here for you. Divorce is an emotionally taxing affair. You need someone to look out for your best interests while you look forward to a new life. The highly sought attorneys at The Law Office of Gustavo E. Frances, P.A. will protect your interests and see you through one of the most challenging times in your life.

The Argument to Keep Permanent Alimony

The purpose of permanent alimony is to ease the economic strain of divorce, especially if one spouse is a non-wage earner or earned proportionally less. In its basic form, it acts to protect individuals from the financial harm a divorce can bring. Permanent alimony differs from regular alimony. It is up to the judge to decide if a spouse qualifies for permanent alimony.

Let’s leave gender out of the topic and refer to Spouse A and Spouse B. Suppose Spouse A holds a position of affluence due to a high-powered career and agrees Spouse B does not need to earn a wage. They may have agreed on this economic duality so Spouse B can be the primary caregiver to children or not. Whatever the reason, it was a joint decision. Spouse A and B decide the marriage does not work and wish to divorce. They have been married for fifteen years. Spouse A has all the economic power in the union due to being the sole wage earner. Spouse B has no prospects or recent working experience. A judge might award Spouse B permanent alimony if;

  • Spouse A can afford the paid support
  • Spouse B is unable to become self-sustaining

If alimony was not awarded, Spouse A would economically be fine. However, Spouse B could potentially struggle. Would many decent-paying jobs hire a more mature person with no working experience? Spouse B would be forced to take whatever job they could find and drastically alter their lifestyle. Or worse, if Spouse B is disabled, they may rely on spousal support for medical reasons. Without such support, their quality of life could be greatly diminished. In Florida, it has been long-standing that a judge examines the union and decides whether permanent alimony is justified.

An example of such a need can be found in the divorce of Dr. Mark Flood, former Laser Spine Institute surgeon, and Blake Taylor. Here are the facts in that case:

  • Dr. Mark Flood’s income is in the millions
  • A judge ordered him to pay spousal support in the amount of $22,000
  • Blake Taylor is permanently disabled and is wheelchair-bound.
  • Dr. Flood routinely does not pay the alimony or pays late, allowing for Taylor’s medical insurance to lapse several times and causing her deep emotional anxiety every month, wondering if she will be able to support herself and take care of her medical needs

Arguments against alimony reform refer to cases like this where one spouse is unable to become self-sustaining.

Arguments for alimony reform cite an inconsistency with judges. They purport judges can award alimony that financially cripples one spouse while the other lives without any economic change.

The Argument for Alimony Reform

Alimony reform aims to fix inconsistencies, financial burdens, and to prevent an ex-spouse from taking advantage.

To continue with the above scenario, if Spouse B is first awarded 30% of Spouse A’s income and five years later that income is diminished significantly, Spouse B could be unaffected. However, Spouse A is could now be paying more than 50% of their income in spousal support. Is this fair? Spouse A can pay court and lawyer fees to go back to a judge but may or may not be awarded an amendment.

In the case of Natalie Willis,

  • Natalie Willis decided to divorce her husband for refusing to work or maintain the home
  • She was ordered to pay or ex-husband alimony
  • Her ex-husband chose to rely on spousal support and still refused to work
  • After 13 years, Willis lost her business, house, and car, reportedly needing to “borrow money for gas.”

In this case, the ex-husband was encouraged to work during the marriage but refused. There was never an agreement that one spouse would be a non-wage earner. This caused the dissolution of the marriage. Still, he was awarded permanent spousal support to the detriment of Natalie Willis.

What This Means for You

If you are thinking about divorce, understand that alimony can turn into a bitter battle. A quick scroll through Google and there are dozens of cases where couples fight over alimony for years until there is simply nothing left. To understand your rights and how alimony will affect you in the event of a divorce, you need a knowledgeable divorce lawyer in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Contact The Law Office of Gustavo E. Frances P.A. for a free consultation of your case by clicking here or calling 954-533-2756 today.

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