The Californian man calls alimony “authorized blackmail” and desires to reform the regulation

Steve Clark pays his ex-wife $ 1,000 a month child support. And he may have to do this for a long time.

“It’s legal blackmail,” he grumbled.

So the Huntington Beach resident is back at it – slapping the sidewalk to get enough signatures to put his complaint on the 2020 California ballot. To achieve this goal, Clark must register 623,212 registered voters by February 3.

As Clark learned in his 2015 trial, it is difficult to attract the attention of 5% of California voters – especially on an issue as sensitive as maintenance reform. In this case, he failed to collect enough signatures for his measure to qualify.

“Men are reluctant to stop at our booth and sign the petition when their wives are with them, but some have looked back and given a thumbs up,” he said.

With the title “Elimination of unlimited maintenance payments”, the initiative would limit maintenance payments to a maximum of five years. Current California law provides that maintenance obligations for marriages 10 years of age and older can remain in place indefinitely until a judge decides otherwise.

Clark plans to deploy paid advertisers to malls across the state – a strategy that would cost millions. “I hope to attract the attention of a billionaire who is dissatisfied with high alimony payments,” he said.

The mission began with the collapse of his 24-year marriage. Clark’s then-wife Cindy filed for divorce, but the decision was mutual, he said.

“We’re not full of hostility,” said Clark. “Our only point of contention is maintenance.”

After the divorce was final in 2013, Clark paid child support for a while until his daughter Lea turned 18. That was never a problem, he assured me. He writes checks to his ex that he can’t stand.

Cindy Clark could not be reached for comment. The couple’s daughter said she was close to both parents and was “neutral” about her father’s livelihood protection.

“I give props to my dad because he was trying to change something he disagreed with rather than just complaining,” said Lea Clark, 23, a clinical assistant in Boise, Idaho. “I’m trying to stay on the sidelines on this matter. Each case is different depending on the circumstances. “

An aerospace engineer and consultant, Clark, 58, bought his ex-wife out of their upscale home – where mostly blank walls and crass countertops telegraph his alleged intolerance of clutter.

Clark’s former wife works as a dental hygienist – a part-time job she did when her daughter was growing up.

“That was her choice,” said Clark, calling the mother’s trail an “investment decision.”

“But now she’s back to full-time and has the potential to make $ 100,000 a year,” he added.

Clark declined to declare his own annual income.

Maintenance, Clark claimed, “is a holdover from the 1950s” when fewer women worked outside the home. “It used to be sensible because the government didn’t want women to receive welfare,” he said.

Now, with more women contributing to the workforce, maintenance cuts both ways – depending on the higher wage earner.

“Imagine having a cheating husband and then having to pay him child support,” he said. “How insulting would that be.”

On his website, Clark lists the five “principles” of his cause. These include: “Any capable and mentally ill person over the age of 18 is expected to be self-sustaining” and “People must be held accountable for the investment decisions of their own lives.”

Dana Heyde, who practices family law at Orange, agreed that maintenance “should not be viewed as a kind of pension” that remains unchanged over the long term.

“It’s not like winning the lottery,” said Heyde. “You don’t get a living just because you put up with your spouse all these years.”

However, alimony serves an important purpose and should “not be imposed by an arbitrary deadline”.

“You can go to court at any time and apply for a change in your maintenance payments,” said Heyde. “On the one hand, maintenance is based on need and, on the other hand, on solvency.”

For example, she said, if the person who receives alimony gets a higher paying job, or if the person who pays alimony loses a job, a judge can decide to reduce or stop the payments.

“Maintenance is about creating a level playing field so that people can get back on their feet,” said Heyde.

And childcare still falls disproportionately on women – those who are most likely to shorten working hours, noted Heyde.

“I’ve heard many men say: ‘She made the decision to interrupt her career to raise the children,'” said Heyde. “Well, he benefited from it too. The children’s extracurricular activities and doctor’s appointments are also the responsibility of the father. “

Such arguments do not affect Clark, who views maintenance as “social welfare”.

“I finance my ex-wife’s weekends,” he said. “Nobody could explain to me how that makes sense.”

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