The Shame of Florida: Alimony Horror Stories from the Sunshine State
Prepared By Florida Alimony Reform
Thanks for your interest in reading this collection of 33 "horror stories" from Florida’s family courts. You or someone you know might have a horror story from the court. Or you might be new to this dark, disturbing, and thoroughly out-of-date corner of the judicial system.
Pass this document on to members of the media, the legislature, and anyone you know who is getting married or divorced in Florida. (Or send them the link to the Horror Stories on our website.) And please join us in our efforts to update and overhaul these laws. There is real interest in the issue in the State Capitol, but legislators must feel pressure from their constituents and the media before they will act. They need to hear from you!
Florida’s lifetime alimony laws are among the most draconian and out-of-date in the country. While divorces are technically "no-fault," they reflect attitudes and realities from America in the 1950s, when a divorcing husband was the sole breadwinner and was considered "the bad
Florida’s alimony laws were updated in 2010 in limited ways. This collection of "horror stories" from the state’s lifetime alimony payers is crucial testimony in the case for further updating Florida’s laws. Almost all of these divorces were finalized before the new laws came into effect in July 2010. Several divorces that were decided under the new law reveal the ongoing problems with the new law, and the weight of the outdated law and outdated attitudes on family court decisions.
Massachusetts is on the verge of radically updating its alimony laws, and it will allow individuals whose divorces were decided prior to the law to revisit their judgments, to guarantee that everyone is treated equally under the law. By contrast, Florida’s new law does not permit any of these lifetime payers the right to petition the court to revisit their settlements. Thus, the injustices and irrational rulings live on – relics of laws that everyone agrees are antiquated and unfair.
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Nearly all of these 33 "horror stories" were provided by our members and have been condensed and edited for space. One case comes from an appellate court decision. Because these are ongoing legal matters, we publish them with no full names; initials where possible; or anonymously. We provide the name of the county where the divorce took place and the year, where available. While these are statewide laws, the outcomes vary greatly from county to county.
Please contact our office for more information or to confirm the facts of these cases.
1. Man pays ex-wife 50 percent of his income in alimony, while ex-wife has lived with boyfriend for 7 years. They wear wedding rings; are each other’s beneficiary in case of death. Ex-husband must keep $1 million life insurance policy. His modification denied in 2006.
"My father-in-law just went through this… His ex-wife has been living with someone for 7 years. They wear rings on their wedding fingers. When the boyfriend was in the hospital, he listed her on the hospital records as his wife, they are each other’s beneficiary in case of death, and the list goes on.
"My father-in-law pays her $3000 per month – 50 percent of his income. In the divorce, she received 100 percent of his retirement ($150,000), which she has spent, and is the sole beneficiary of his $1 million life insurance policy, even though he has remarried. After her son turned 18 and the child support ended, she took him back to court and had the child support rolled into alimony.
"She would not settle for a reduction of alimony, so based on F.S. 61. 14 [the new cohabitation law], they went to court. My husband and his brother testified. We watch him struggle while she goes on extravagant vacations (California, Vegas, and a 5-day cruise – all in 4 months). She had a brand-new home built and then remodeled. Her boyfriend’s Crown Victoria is paid for. She makes $11 per hour working 25-30 hours a week. The boyfriend makes $30,000. The ruling went to the ex-wife. So he is still paying $3000 a month and now he is responsible for her attorney’s fees, $10,000. This poor man is supporting not only his ex-wife but her boyfriend, and the courts are allowing it."