Payers pin their hopes on the draft law on maintenance reform

When WLRN's Public Insight Network asked for comment on Florida's child support law, it was met with very deep anger and bitterness.

Commentators told us of ex-husbands who could no longer think about retirement because of their lifetime support obligations. We heard of second wives who feared the courts would seize their own income if it increased their husband's ability to pay.

“I will be paying alimony for much longer than I was married while my ex-spouse owns a business, has a regular partner and owns two homes,” one man wrote. Another said he paid alimony for 21 years after nine years of marriage. A third wrote, “I can't remarry because my ex would demand more alimony. My ex doesn't work and actually receives more money each month than I do.”

A bill for the 2013 legislative session could eliminate permanent alimony and limit temporary alimony based on the length of the marriage. And some current alimony agreements could be changed.

These are some of the comments we received:

  • The child support has destroyed my children's future. After nearly half a million dollars in legal fees, I have no money left to send my children to college, retire, or invest in a future. I live paycheck to paycheck. I have been threatened with jail for not paying enough money. My child support and child support payments are nearly $17,000… a month!! Forever!!! Robert Simon
  • As the fiancée of an alimony payer, I have watched an ex-spouse exploit the system for 13 years by consciously choosing to work only the number of hours each week that he needed to in order to receive the benefits from the state. While she sits back and takes advantage of not only the state of Florida, but her ex-spouse as well, he (the alimony payer) will work until he dies, as that is when the alimony payments will end. What a shame that “until death do us part” only applies to alimony! Kathleen Jette
  • We need alimony reform! My fiancé and I have not been able to get married for nine years because he is constantly paying alimony. His ex could usurp my income. She was 41 when they divorced and he has to pay her alimony until he dies. Peggy Goldstein
  • Permanent alimony has turned me into a criminal. The judge… has imposed on me a crushing judgment that would cause great hardship to pay in a good economy. I can't pay it and still have a roof over my head and food, so the courts are threatening to arrest me. All the judges and lawyers care about is how much money they can squeeze out of the pockets of the unfortunate people who have the misfortune to come before them. When two people get to the point of getting a divorce, they should never be tied to each other for the rest of their lives. Mark Holtz
  • I am court-ordered to pay my ex-wife alimony for the rest of my life. After paying half my salary for more than 20 years, I would like to retire. Florida's outdated alimony laws prevent this. James Laufer
  • My husband is 60 and had a heart attack last spring, but he continues to work hard because he has to pay his alimony. I have always worked and will be 59. My husband's ex-wife is eight years younger than me and has not worked a day since their divorce. But why would she work? She got $90,000 a year in alimony for a 13-year marriage. The scary thing is that if we go back to court now, she may get even more money because now a second spouse's income can be used as evidence of greater ability to pay. My husband has paid her alimony for 14 years now. Susan Wieland
  • The lifetime alimony law is simply a money-making scheme by lawyers to ensure that those affected continue to hire lawyers. Change the law to match child support by putting a limit. Lifetime is insane. I will be paying alimony for much longer than I was married while my ex-spouse owns a business, has a domestic partner, and owns two homes. Tom Brandlein
  • I was married for nine years and then divorced. I was forced to pay alimony in perpetuity. I have been paying alimony for 21 years now. I am now retired and have to dip into my savings each month to keep paying. I cannot remarry because my ex would demand more alimony. My ex does not work and actually receives more money each month than I do. Attempts to change have been extremely costly and have brought no relief. Kevin Loucks
  • I have to pay permanent alimony to my ex-wife. She has no plans to ever work or marry anyone else, so I am condemned for life to give her money while she has given me nothing since the divorce. This is affecting my life, my ability to help my adult children, and my retirement savings. L David Monroe
  • (What would a legislator think if his) wife filed for divorce, got a restraining order so you couldn't come home or see your children, had all bank accounts, lines of credit and credit cards emptied, had your investment accounts frozen, had you pay enough child support to support an adult, had you lose seven-eighths of all your assets to keep your business, had you assume all debts as part of the divorce, had to pay her legal fees, had to take out life insurance for the rest of your life with her as the beneficiary, and had to pay 40 percent of your income until you die so she and her significant other could collect their nest egg. AN INSURANCE POLICY that you must leave them, because when you're dead and buried you're not making any more money, so they get a big life insurance payout to maintain the wonderful lifestyle you think women should get for bad behavior! Tom Yeaman
  • I pay my ex-wife who left the marriage $4,000 a month…I cannot retire or support my new family and elderly parents. Through no fault of my own, I am now obligated under state law to pay my ex and support her gay lifestyle for the rest of my life. Lee Kallett
  • I was married at 19 and divorced at 34 in Florida. A judge ordered me to pay alimony for life. My ex-wife, a perfectly healthy and able-bodied woman, received lifetime alimony 11 years ago at 33. I must support my ex-wife for the rest of her life before supporting my children. Current laws put good, caring and responsible people like me in a difficult financial situation where they MUST support their ex-spouse before supporting their children. Hector Torres

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