Alimony has been a hot topic lately. Massachusetts recently changed its out-of-date alimony laws, and now Florida and New Jersey are hoping to do the same.
Before Massachusetts changed its alimony laws, the standard order for alimony in these 3 states was lifetime permanent alimony. The laws were made when the divorce rate was much lower and many married women didn’t work outside the home. Florida alimony law is vague, and payment decisions are left up to the judge’s decision. Many agree that Florida law needs guidelines for the duration and amount of alimony. If there were set guidelines, it’s possible that more couples in Florida would settle out of court.
For many divorces, lifetime alimony payments just don’t make sense anymore. In fact, many people are suffering under these decades-old laws. Under current Florida law, the default order is for the higher earner in the marriage to pay the lower earner until death, regardless of either person’s employment status. Going back to court to request adjustments in alimony payments can be costly and time consuming. And it doesn’t always lead to a reduced payment.
72 year old Michael Morgan is one Florida resident who has been trying for years to change the $2,100 monthly payment he must make to his ex-wife. He is now bedridden with advanced Alzheimer’s, and his current wife Linda is his full time caretaker. Linda and Michael have been to court 5 times in the last few years requesting to reduce or end these ordered payments for a marriage that ended 20 years ago. Despite 5 attempts, Michael must continue to pay a $2,100 monthly payment.
Alan Frisher, co-director of Florida Alimony Reform (FAR), says his group has been pushing lawmakers to change alimony laws for 2 years. “You should be able to move on with your life,” he says. “The way it stands now is absolutely wrong.”
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