Florida lawmakers and advocacy groups are pushing to overhaul the state's alimony law in a bid to better reflect today's marriages and make the system less burdensome for the alimony payer. Last year Massachusetts rewrote alimony laws in an attempt to make them more "equitable."
In Connecticut, Arkansas, Oregon, West Virginia and a few other states, men's groups are calling for reform of alimony laws based on stories of the hardships caused for men who are ordered to pay lifetime alimony. I'm all for fair but want to take this opportunity to say, "hold on a minute."
Broad sweeping change to alimony laws will do the same thing for divorce that no-fault divorce laws did. It will only make it easier for a spouse to leave a long-term marriage without fear of repurcussions.
"For every guy, there is a wife or former wife who got the short end of the stick," Mr. Manz said. "Look at the standard of living of most people in a long-term marriage: divorced men's standard of living goes up, and the women's goes down. That happens every day. We are not in favor of disenfranchising someone who has given up her career," he added. "What you are hearing about is a very vocal, persuasive minority" says David L. Manz, the chairman of the Florida Bar Family Law Section.
I've always been of the opinion that if the higher earning spouse chooses to leave the marriage that spouse has a financial responsibility to the person he/she is leaving behind. For me this is not a gender issue, it isn't about men paying women, it is about a spouse being held responsible when leaving a long-term marriage and a spouse with low earning potential regardless of gender.
I often hear about how "easy" it is for women to be awarded large sums of alimony after divorce. As a woman who is divorced and not by choice I wish I had known it was so "easy." Evidently my attorney didn't do her job because I didn't walk away from a long-term marriage with alimony of any sort and even if I had pushed the issue would not have received even close to permanent alimony.
By rewriting alimony laws due to the whining of a "pursuasive minority" these legislators are not only endangering the futures of women who are left but of men who have chosen to promote their wive's career instead of their own. There are fathers who are stay-at-home dads. There are fathers who earn lower incomes than their wives who will also suffer the consequences of these new alimony laws.
Today's marriages are different and any law related to divorce should not be "one size fits all." Divorce laws should take into consideration the needs of the individuals in each individual case. As it is, a man or woman can leave a marriage, have an affair, be jailed for domestic abuse, gamble away a couples savings and none of the behavior is taken into consideration during the divorce.
Take away the financial insentive for a spouse to reconsider bad behavior and abandoning a spouse and you are promoting further decay of our societies morals.