Michelle.Hayes via Flickr
Most people, when they make their marriage vows, hope to be with their spouse until death do them part.
But in the face of love, many do not think or simply are simply unaware that in some states it is possible to be together until death even if you get divorced.
Permanent upkeep is what it sounds like.
A couple marries, and if they divorce, one spouse pays child support for the rest of their natural life or until their spouse dies, whichever comes first.
In most cases, remarriage cancels payments, which is why many of the payees choose to live with someone else instead of remarrying.
Opponents of permanent maintenance also agree that there are sometimes good reasons for permanent maintenance for a spouse (e.g. due to incapacity for work).
In other cases, however, when the recipient is healthy and has studied, it may seem as if fate has smiled at the one who now has something like lottery wins for life and despises the other as an unhappy soul who must now for the mistake pay to marry the wrong person for the rest of their lives.
Even Powerball winnings expire after 20 years and permanent livelihoods continue until retirement – although the amount paid can be reduced by the courts. As a result, some seniors give part of their social security check to a spouse who receives the same amount of social security plus alimony.
[Read: Why Almost Everyone Needs a Prenup.]
The permanent alimony trap can be especially annoying for someone like Jane Carter, 43, who uses a pseudonym so she can speak more freely about her husband’s case, which is soon to be resolved in court. Her husband separated from his first wife in 2003 and was sentenced by the courts to pay his ex-spouse $ 90,000 a year (excluding child support).
They divorced in 2005 and eventually the amount was lowered to $ 81,000 a year. So far, Carter’s husband has paid his ex-wife $ 800,000 child support, and while his monthly child support used to be 30 percent of his income, in the current economy, 57 percent of his income goes to his ex-wife.
Until Carter wins the court’s favor, there is no end in sight. In fact, she says her husband’s ex-wife is now after her money. “I have a small nest egg for my 11-year-old son and your lawyer is trying to figure out how much I have for that nest egg because we’re in the middle of a change process,” says Carter.
Longevity is a particularly annoying problem for anyone stuck in the courts; Carter and her husband are both licensed lawyers and well versed in the law, and they still find it difficult to navigate the law.
Many states have abandoned the permanent livelihood practice – or at least reformed the law – but it is still going strong in states like New Jersey, Oregon, Vermont, Connecticut, North Carolina, West Virginia, and Florida. Permanent alimony was created during the time when women did not go to college and rarely had a career, but looked after the children and the household. Then it was sorely needed. Well, opponents argue, those reasons for its existence are long gone.
Debbie Israel, a 47-year-old math teacher at a college in Miami, is engaged to be married until her state has permanent maintenance. She started dating her fiancé, an engineer, in 2010 after their respective divorces in 2008 and 2009.
After seeing each other for about a year, he suggested. She said yes. But shortly thereafter, Israel read about divorce and learned that her salary in Florida state could end up in the hands of his ex-wife, which resulted in Israel becoming a core member of the Florida Alimony Reform Group, which now has more than 2,000 members.
[Read: Why Single People Are So Financially Stressed.]
The nonprofit has been pushing for alimony reform since 2010 and plans to tackle other family law issues once the state reforms alimony – something its divorced founder Alan Frisher, a certified divorce finance analyst in Melbourne, Florida, believes. The change could come as early as this year, with a bill to end permanent alimony expected to be voted on in Florida Parliament in a few months.
Israel, which is divorced, could have received permanent support, but refused. She thought about it, but when a cousin asked her, “Why would you want to hold onto an unhealthy relationship for the rest of your life,” that question stayed with her and ultimately led her to decline the maintenance and come up with a plan for her Receive child support for her and her ex’s son.
Both Israel and Frisher know many people who are caught up in the burdens of permanent alimony. Frisher talks about an IT guy who is in arrears with permanent alimony payments and wakes up every day wondering if this will be the day the sheriff knocks on his door.
Israel knows a member of the Florida Alimony Reform Group who, after discovering that her husband is having an affair with his nanny, is now paying her perfectly healthy ex-husband permanent alimony – for the rest of her life if the law is not regulated . Israel laments that she even had a boyfriend who committed suicide for a living.
“Some people are told that their marriage is over and then they feel like they are losing their families because they don’t have daily access to their children and they see their finances wiped out and then they are told that they have to pay their ex for the rest of their lives, “says Israel. “That can be too much to handle.”
Frisher wants his state maintenance to be capped at half the marriage. For example, under this law, if someone was married for 18 years, the lower-income spouse would have nine years of support – probably enough time to go back to school or find decent work.
[See 12 Money Mistakes Almost Everyone Makes.]
Ongoing maintenance also kills the desire to work hard, says Frisher, who cites an example of a dentist who is a member of the reform group and currently pays his ex-spouse $ 10,000 a month. He quotes another member, a doctor who pays $ 6,000 a month.
In both cases, the way the laws are now written means that their exs could go to court and ask for their alimony to be increased as the dentist and doctor expand their practices and make more money.
The law in force arguably creates a welfare-like state for the recipients and also kills their desire to work hard, opponents of permanent maintenance, as they actually receive a monthly payment
for the rest of your life.
“In some unusual cases, I can see where the maintenance should be made permanent, such as when a spouse is disabled,” says Robin DesCamp, an activist for permanent maintenance reform in Portland, Oregon, “but there should be a formula, and I do Personally, don’t think you should give any person more than 25 percent of your income. You shouldn’t have to give more than 50 percent of your income to a sane person who can get a job at Starbucks by shouting out loud. “