Father’s Day a sad day for permanent alimony payers.
What is Father’s Day? For most of us, it means a day for fathers and children to come together to show appreciation and love for each other. For some fathers in Florida who pay permanent alimony, there is a persistent feeling of frustration and sadness that goes along with their particular state of fatherhood. They cannot afford to do for their children what they would like to do. They must first pay their former spouse, and if they’re lucky, they will have enough money left for the children’s needs.
A perfect case in point of this situation is my friend and FAR colleague Hector Torres.
My friend’s own story of frustration in his own words:I’m a very good father who has always made his kids his priority in life. In 2001 I got divorced, a 13 year marriage with 3 kids. In 2006, my oldest son (at the age of 17) came to live with me after my ex-wife literally told him to LEAVE and that she did not want him to live with her anymore. In 2007, my daughter (at the age of 16) came to live with me after my ex-wife also pushed her out of the house. So in 2007, I was paying child support for 3 kids even though 2 of the 3 were now living with me. In 2007 I filed a Petition for Modification because I had two of my kids now living with me and my ex had been cohabitating with the same man since 2006. After fighting more than 2 years in court to reduce or terminate my alimony and to get a reduction in child support, in 2009 the Judge ruled that my ex-wife could continue to receive the same amount in alimony and child support even though my ex-wife was now working at her boyfriend’s company, my ex-wife was cohabitating with her boyfriend for more than 2 years, and my ex-wife had 2 less children living with her. In 2010, my youngest son (at the age of 14) came to live with me after my ex-wife threw him out of the house. It is now 2012 and I have 3 kids that need my help but the alimony law says that I must support my ex-wife before I can support any of my kids . This is a travesty of justice but it happens every day in Florida because the alimony laws are antiquated and the law and the Judges give priority to women over the children.
Here’s what the Florida Family Court Judge had to say.
“The Former Husband testified that the children live with him. While it is commendable that he has a strong bond with his children and that he wants to support them in every manner, including Hector, Jr., under the eyes of the law Hector, Jr., is an adult, even though he is a young man. The Former Husband’s obligations are to the Former Wife based on the marriage he had with her.
“The Court must find that there is a substantial change in circumstances, and it is a material change in order to modify what the Court previously ordered based upon the marriage and what Ms. Torres contributed to the marriage before the marriage was dissolved. The Court cannot consider supporting the adult child in its consideration of change in circumstances.”
Florida law favors an able-bodied ex-spouse over a young “adult” just getting started in life.
The truth is stranger than fiction. You can’t make this stuff up. What’s worse, Hector’s story is not uncommon in Florida. Do the “needs” of an able-bodied adult trump the needs of a young person, still in school, but an “adult” according to Florida law for no other reason than the two adults were once married? In Florida, the answer is an unfortunate yes.
While I have never met the former Mrs. Hector Torres, I do know she is able-bodied, yet the law does not require her to ever help herself. Hector was married for less than 15 years, yet potentially could pay alimony for another 50 years or so, all the while his former wife has absolutely no responsibility for her own life, even though her children no longer live under her roof.
My fiance is in a similar situation as many permanent alimony payers are. It’s truly the time for the laws to be updated and reflect our current society.