Alimony Reform Laws Focus on the Exception to the Rule and to the Detriment of the American Family

By September 16, 2013

By Deborah S. Chames
A few weeks ago, this article gained national attention, calling for alimony reform to help the paying spouses, mostly men, from spending time in jail for missing alimony payments. The article paints a bleak picture for these men who, as a result of post-recession changes in financial circumstances, can no longer afford to make alimony payments and are consequently hauled off to jail.  Supporters of alimony reform use these unique situations to push for sweeping alimony reform laws that will negatively impact many women who gave years of their life to support their husbands’ careers and raise a family and today have no marketable skills to bring to the work force.

In Florida, and most other states, alimony, including permanent alimony, is modifiable unless the parties agreed otherwise. If the circumstances truly change substantially the law provides for an adjustment.  In Florida, no one can go to jail for nonpayment of support unless the Court finds that there is a present ability to pay.
There are many women today that are in long-term marriages who chose (or were encouraged) to stay home, care for the children and maintain the family home and today, those women are getting dumped by their spouses and traded in for a younger model. Usually these women are in their 50’s or 60’s and have been out of the work force for many years. What exactly should they do at this time in their lives?  Even those who have a college education lack the skills necessary to find a job in today’s competitive economic climate.
Frankly, not only do you have a moral and legal obligation to provide for your child until they are 18, but you should also have a moral and legal obligation to provide for the spouse that helped you get where you are today.  If the law does not insist upon this, in effect society is sanctioning a lifestyle that renders homemakers disposable and discourages women from leaving the work force to spend time at home raising their children.  If this is the future of our family courts, entire families will undoubtedly suffer.