Why You Should Not Get a Divorce in Florida

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Do Not Get Divorced in Florida

Would you sign any contract that stated:   You May Have To Pay This Person A Significant Amount Of Money For The Rest Of Your Natural Life?

Now what if, like a cigarette pack, there was a warning on a marriage license that stated the same thing?  Would you marry the person you loved, or would you possibly reconsider?


 Divorce Decree

The fact of the matter is that this warning is not on any marriage contract, but when you get divorced in the state of Florida, there is a high likelihood that you will be ordered to pay “permanent alimony” to your future former spouse.

The information you are about to read is not meant to scare you from getting married.  On the contrary, we at Florida Alimony Reform believe in the sanctity and commitment of marriage.  We just want you to be fully aware of the facts before you commit yourself to, what may be, a financial life sentence.  Also, please be aware that we are not talking about child support here.  Alimony is not child support. They are two totally separate and distinct parts of the law.

Alimony is a payment by one party, either the husband or the wife, to the other, for spousal support. In Florida, there are no monetary formulas for determining the amount of alimony one spouse should receive, either on a temporary or permanent basis.

When the parties to a divorce go before a judge during a trial, the judge determines whether alimony should be awarded, as well as the type of alimony and the amount.  In other words, since the decision is discretionary with each judge, the amount and type will vary, depending on the particular views of the individual judge assigned to that case

The determination is made using standards outlined in the Florida Statutes; “statutes and laws that were written back in the day when women had little economic power, when divorce was uncommon, and cohabiting was scandalous.”*

Current law, in Florida, requires the judge makes the determination by trying to maintain the lifestyle the couple achieved during their marriage.  To do this, the judge typically has no other choice than to order one person to now support two households, even if it means depleting all of the assets to do so.

Current law, in Florida, allows for an ‘equitable distribution’ of the assets in a divorce.  While this may sound logical, once again it is up to the judge to decide what is ‘equitable.’ Quite often it is far from a 50/50 split of the assets in favor of one spouse over the other.

Current law, in Florida, uses “Permanent Alimony” as the default judgment (typically for a marriage lasing more than 10 years, but possibly less).  Permanent alimony only encourages the recipient to never remarry, to not work at all, or to hide income.  It also forces divorced couples to return to court whenever circumstances change, so neither party can ever move on with his/her life and must constantly live with the threat of litigation.

Current law, in Florida, doesn’t have any cap on the amount of alimony a judge can award a person.  That’s right, there is no formula like there is for child support.  Judges have some guidelines that they can follow, but no steadfast rules regarding the amount they can order.  This oftentimes leads to having to return to court when it becomes unaffordable to pay what was ordered.

Current law, in Florida, does not allow for a person paying “permanent alimony’ to retire at Federal retirement age, or the normal retirement age of their particular profession.  Permanent alimony ends only when the payer dies or the receiver remarries.

Current law, in Florida, allows income from a second wife (and even fiancé’) to be counted as “family income” in order to upwardly modify the alimony received by a former wife.

Current law, in Florida, makes it nearly impossible to eliminate or modify an alimony order once it is given.  The cost of retaining an Attorney to modify a judgment can be unaffordable, and even if it is affordable, there is no guarantee that any modification will occur in court because of the arbitrary and unbridled discretion of the judge.


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  1. Permanent alimony leads to a class of people that believe money grows on trees and just simply appears in their bank account. My ex-wife is taking me to court and she and her lawyer are demanding a payroll deduction from my pay and use a government depository for the payments. Have I missed a payment, no. Have I shorted a payment, no. Have I harassed her as part of a payment, no. Have I told my adult children to take the payments to her, no. She simply does not like having to sign for the payments, so I know she gets them, as I pay by check and use certified and signature on receipt mail for the payments. Her lawyer’s argument that this check mailing scheme is totally incapacitated my ex, she has to be home to accept payment or go to the post office to accept her check. My lawyer is worried this will carry the day in court. She is the one who cheated on me and is an emergency room nurse. I’m thinking how totally screwed up the system is, guess what I have to work for the money, it’s not just sent to me and deposited in my bank account, I have to go to work and then, I don’t even get to keep it. Florida has decided it’s better to send the money I work for to a (you pick the adjective and noun). Oh yea and then it’s too hard to have to go to the post office to pick it up. You really need to deposit this in my account so that it is effortless. WTF? When is someone just going to start depositing money into my account?

  2. Edsebastian, it is very sad what you are going through. Divorce is not easy for anyone, ever. Most people suffer depression in the midst of divorce, and I suggest you take care of yourself by seeking out family services if you are unable to afford a therapist. I am not ashamed to admit I went for therapy during and after my own divorce.

    Regarding the proposed legislation, last year and this year- the purpose
    is to make the laws FAIR. Right now they are not fair for an alimony payer or the second spouse of an alimony payer whose income can be hijacked to pay alimony to the first spouse. Read our Horror Stories and you will see just how unfair our current laws are. The divorce lawyers benefit from all the fighting that goes on between divorcing parties. Nothing about our current system is working. Hence the need for alimony reform.

    The goal of alimony reform is not to take away alimony from a person such as yourself who needs it, but to put guidelines on the way alimony is given so there is less fighting, less need for the very litigation you are dealing with right now.

    At some point, although it didn’t happen last year, alimony reform is going to happen because society needs it to happen. That doesn’t mean you won’t get any alimony when reform comes to fruition. You just won’t get permanent alimony which is very unfair to the payer in that they cannot retire. You will be expected to eventually be self-sufficient at some point in time. We are not living in our mother’s and grandmother’s where women had a harder time being successful in the workplace. Times have changed.

    Hang in there. Get some emotional help. Be as strong as you can. Do your best to find a career that you can be successful in, so your need to external support is minimized. It will do wonders for your self-esteem and for your wallet. Trust me, I’ve been there.

  3. blondie1024 says:

    What’s not being stated is that NEITHER party in a divorce will be able to maintain the exact lifestyle previously enjoyed. If you take a pie and cut it in half, you don’t still have a whole pie for each person. My 62 year-old husband has been out of work for 2 years and has exhausted all unemployment income (the judge awarded his ex 1/2 of that unemployment compensation!). His prospects for a job are non-existent due to age, health problems, the industry he was in, and the economy. We are trying to get the permanent alimony eliminated or at least lowered. So far we have spent $15,000 and are not yet to pre-trial. We have been told that if he retires and takes early social security to have some income, that the judge can award some of that to his ex as it’s considered income. She works freelance as a tax preparer when she pleases, and quite likely does some of it under the table. In addition, she received social security disability income but states that he “health is not an issue” in this action. So, right now she has a lot more income that he does. Fortunately for us I have some assets that allow us to continue to pay our bills. Unfortunately for us, she says that I am “keeping” him and that she should receive monies whether he’s working or not. Sadly, I believe that this is not all about money for his ex; it’s about retribution for his having left her 9 years ago. Because I was successful in my career and saved money, we must now consider divorcing to protect my assets. This is a heartbreaking thing for us to even discuss but we don’t want to continue to give money to either the attorneys or to a spouse that doesn’t want to work and believes she’s entitled to have the same lifestyle my husband and I now enjoy. The greed for more money is definitely there for her. We are at our wits end. I can’t sleep anymore and we are demoralized with the system that is supposed to protect us all. What’s legal and what’s right are not the same thing!

  4. Linwood says:

    Even when my income went down my ex never contributed a dime of her salary to the family, saying that was my responsibility, but she was certainly unhappy that we needed to lower our standard of living. When her girlfriend got divorced they went out celebrating and she found that the single life was more fun than raising a family, sometimes staying out all night. She eventually abandoned me and the kids, but not before quitting her job so she could claim to be a stay at home mom. I work 50 hour weeks and paid her more alimony than I earned last year, while she gloats that she will never have to work. I have withdrawn all of my savings to pay alimony and pray my income goes up. Can this be America? Pat’s situation is rare indeed, but if she is disabled then she certainly should be entitled to help. If she cannot earn enough to pay rent and eat, perhaps she deserves a subsidy. I do not know the facts of the case. My ex wife could easily earn more than I am paying her and needs to get off the couch.

  5. Charles Ciraulo says:

    I wish I could write in words to express what liftetime alimony has done to my life. I pay $52,000 per year in lifetime alimony to my ex-wife whom we were divorced from each other nine years ago. She was able to “retire” at 43 and has not nor does not work. Yet, I have to support her 100% while having had FULL CUSTODY OF OUR FOUR CHILDREN having to work every day and on my spare time be Mr. Mom. The money I give to support her could have helped my children in college as well as the charities I support. I know I will never be able to retire. I know that if I lose my job I will first be forced into bankruptcy and then jail though I am no criminal. Please hear us!

  6. Curt Proveaux says:

    Pat, like the Florida Bar Family Law Section is using a scenario that they think justifies permanent alimony. This is the only one they can come up with and even it doesn’t hold water. Nobody is entitled to an income for the rest of their life unless they work for it themselves. My daughter is a mom with four kids. She not only raised her kids but went to school became a registered nurse and now works full time. All without the help of alimony or even steady child support. Get up off your duff and go to work Pat.

  7. Terry Power says:

    Pat, I don’t know your situation, but the laws need to be updated in Florida. Nobody’s looking to throw ex-spouses on the street….there needs to be a middle ground. What if the ex-spouse wasn’t “holding the ladder” as the other spouse built their career but got into drunken arguments with the spouse’s co-workers and supervisors at conferences?

    Or was a child abuser (as was elequently outlined in the Custody Evaluation Report)?

    Do I keep a ten year old in that environment? Or protect him?

    All this happened and more in my case.

    I wish I could go back to the mid 1990’s and make $500k/year. That’s the lifestyle I want! But I can’t because life goes on. And we have to deal with the realities of the economy today.

    Take responsibility for your life instead of leaching off of the system. Have some respect for yourself and show your kids that you can stand on your own feet. You can stop being a “victim” anytime you’d like.

  8. Lia Raper says:

    Seriously, Pat? Sounds like a woman scorned… also sounds like you have a bone to pick with all men… Get a job… move on…

  9. Ben James says:

    Pats comments make some assumptions that the law should not. We can no longer assume that women are giving up careers. They often times just don’t want to work. We also cant assume that husbands are not doing the same thing. Roles are often reversed. Income is shared while they are married and assets accumulated are spilt with the divorce. Paychecks after the divorce still must be worked for. These laws favor one person unfairly at the expense of another. No one should be forced to work for life whil another is allowed to relax. 18 years of a job does not guarantee life long income and 18 years of raising kids shouldn’t either. We prove why marriages failed or what happend during the marriage. No one should be sentenced to life long servitude without iron clad proof and no one should get life long income while refusing to work. I know no one who fits in the little box you have described. I know many people, men and women, whose lives have been destroyed by these laws, ignorant and self important judges, and attorneys who will do anything to win including putting kids at risk. Bernie Madoff is vilanized by taking the life savings of families. Judges and attorney do it every day without anyone blinking and eye. It has to stop.

  10. TryingTobeRespectful says:

    Dear Pat,
    I am a father who has raised his children while going to school working one full time and one part time job. My ex-wife walked out on us and I am paying her Alimony for life. So I personally take issue to your premise that it is only the men that cause a breakup of a marriage.

    Please take you proverbial head out of the sand.


  11. @RealityChecker- good point!

  12. RealityChecker says:

    Well, Pat, by your reasoning, the ex-wife should have to continue “maintaining the comforts of home coupled with filling the varied and endless needs of children and husband.” If he has to support her forever, she should be ordered to do the same.

    • aleshia says:

      Well said R-check. Pat is is just trying to piss people off with his/her dribble. I will have to tell my friend he should have pushed the issue of “The life you were accustomed to” and maybe he wouldnt have had to clean,do dishes,grocery shop and all the things a good wife is known for on top of $1300.00 a month for life. No kids at home,mid 40’s…2 degrees that HE put her through school to get and he worked. Heck,lets create a law for our children,the ones who didnt ask to be born,to be entitled to support til we die also. It not their fault they are here,why should they work and support themselves? Why should a new wife be considered in the financial picture,x wife has no right to her income. Perm alimony will end Pat and you know what…..the ex-spouse will have to get out and work like the rest of us. Divorce should not be equal to winning the lotto.

  13. Nannette says:

    What about OUR case where the wife files for divorce from her second husband and whom they have no children and she has a four year degree he has none, and shes receives 100% assests and lifetime alimony. I am in favor of durational or bridge tha gap or half the length of the marriage but forever no way. What happens to these poor women when the husband dies, or gets put in jail, or losses his job when they soley depend on Alimony. EVERYONE SHOULD LEARN FROM THIER PARENTS HOW TO BE SELF RELIANT SHAME ON YOU PAT FOR SETTING A POOR EXAMPLE FOR YOUR CHILDREN.

  14. What I also forgot to mention is that the SAHS receives HALF the marital assets as well, whether they contributed financially to the marriage or not…

  15. A woman – having given up her own career goals to devote herself entirely to family life through both marriage and motherhood – has EARNED alimony! A husband’s name may be on the paychecks, but BOTH have EARNED that money. A wife who has held the ladder of success steady – while maintaining the comforts of home coupled with filling the varied and endless needs of children and husband – is crucial to the husband’s career climb up said ladder! We don’t hear of men raising children AND maintaining a comfortable home life – with all that each entail! – WHILE simultaneously and independently earning an income. 2012 is half over and selfish, fickle men continue attempts to oppress the very women they vowed to care for. If more men would grow up and devote as much attention to their marriages as they are to this proposed reform, there would be no discussion. Men continue to separate the wife from the children when they choose to leave the marriage. When a mature, sincere man is TRULY concerned for his CHILDREN’S WELL-BEING, he likewise understands fully their NEED for their MOTHER’S WELL-BEING. Alimony provides for just that when a man refuses to do the right thing on his own.

    • Let’s get some facts straight.
      1. The folks involved in Alimony Reform are both men and WOMEN, such as myself. The members of Florida Alimony Reform’s Second Wives Club are in the hundreds and growing by the day exponentially. We consist of permanent alimony payors ourselves as well as women who have sons, brothers, family members who pay permanent alimony or are in relationships or married to permanent alimony payors. We are involved in this cause because we see the destruction to the family as a result of PERMANENT alimony.
      2. A woman (or man) who gives up his or her career to devote him or herself “entirely to family life through both marriage and motherhood” is making a CHOICE. Life is full of choices and no one holds a gun to anyone’s head to make that choice. However, given that we live in a free country and a woman or man for that matter had an absolute right to make that CHOICE, that is why we must have laws on the books to protect a Stay-At-Home-Spouse (SAHS) (who “held the ladder of success steady”) and children such as alimony and child support. I agree that men (or woman) cannot separate the SAHS from the children when the marriage ends REGARDLESS OF WHO CHOOSES TO END THE MARRIAGE. (There is a very bad assumption here that only men end marriages when the statistics state the very opposite.) If a SAHS is raising young children and there is an ex-spouse earning an income, the SAHS and the children must be helped financially. It is only right. The problem lies with PERMANENT alimony for LIFE. Once the children are in school and for certain when they become adults, what stops the SAHS from resuming his or her career should a divorce happen? During this period of transition which includes getting back into the workforce, there should be a reasonable period of durational alimony based on the length of the marriage which would also correlate to the amount of time spent out of the workforce. Durational alimony accompanied by child support allows the SAHS to regain their rightful place as a productive member of society. Even if the SAHS never had a career prior to the marriage, what would stop someone at any age to obtain a career if they are able-bodied? People make career changes all the time at mid-life and later for a variety of reasons whether they are married or single.
      3. There seems to be tremendous confusion as to the goals of alimony reform. We are PRO CHILD SUPPORT. In my own opinion, the child support guidelines are not up to date and need lots of improvement. We are PRO DURATIONAL ALIMONY. No one in this group is looking to eliminate alimony or limit it severely like some states do. WE ARE ANTI PERMANENT ALIMONY except in VERY RARE CASES.
      4. The scenario depicted in this comment is the Hollywood-esque movie of the week where the woman sacrifices everything for her man, raises his children, has a martini on the coffee table when he gets home from work, a warm dinner on the table, the children bathed, homework done, all ready for daddy to come in and kiss the children goodnight. Behind her back, he is having a torrid affair with his young secretary, decides to leave the poor wife behind for the younger model, and wants to abandon the wife and children in every way including financially. While this may be the movie of the week, the reality is that marriages fail because TWO people failed to make it work. Since we are living in a no fault divorce state and all we need legally to divorce is a statement that the marriage is broken, why should one person have to support an able bodied person for the REST OF THEIR NATURAL LIFE? This is an essay unto itself how and why permanent alimony is so destructive to not only the payor, but the payee, and the children involved due to the acrimony of alimony wars that last for life.
      5. The current law makes an incorrect assumption that the marital standard of living must be maintained after divorce. If Donald Trump were to marry his clone with similar wealth, post divorce their standard of living would be cut in half. By forcing the income earning spouse to maintain the marital standard of living for the rest of his or her natural life, is putting that person in a severe disadvantage in more ways that can be described in this forum. Permanent alimony payors are forced into bankruptcy, foreclosure, poverty, depression and even suicide. The permanent alimony recipient becomes so dependent on the alimony they have no motivation or desire to move forward with their lives by either remarrying and/or improving their career. Both parties post marriage are stuck in a very dysfunctional dynamic. The children of these marriages get stuck in between a lifetime of fighting. In what way does this “family law” benefit the family? Divorce happens. The best thing is for the SAHS to receive durational alimony and child support and then let both parties move on with their lives with dignity! Many divorced couples who have limited or no financial entanglements with each other are better able to co-parent and even become friends at some point in the future. What person who is FORCED TO PAY AN EX-SPOUSE FOR LIFE can even ponder a healthy post-divorce relationship? It is asking the slave to get along with his master. It is not possible.
      6. Without naming names, I personally know many women who are having affairs and ending their marriages. These same women are receiving alimony for life. How is this fair to the man who is devoted to his wife and family? I would venture to say that in 2012, there are as many “selfish, fickle” women out there, if not more.
      7. Lastly, one of the goals of alimony reform is to make sure that a second wife’s income cannot be considered part of the payor’s ability to pay alimony. Think about it. Alimony was created hundreds of years ago when women did not have equal rights in education and the workplace. Now, in a bizarre twist, the second wife’s economic power is being used to supplement alimony to the first “helpless” wife. The irony is also that it is the woman’s job in today’s litigious society that is more secure than a man’s. When a company needs to let someone go, they choose the person less likely to sue. That person generally is a white male because they cannot claim gender or ethnic discrimination. The purpose of alimony reform is to give alimony guidelines and time limits. Divorce outcomes should be predictable from county to county and from judge to judge. The less litigation, the better for the benefit of the FAMILY. Divorce litigation should not lead to debt and bankruptcy. This is a very hard time for people and the laws should make it EASIER by not killing what’s left of the family emotionally and financially.

    • Curt Proveaux says:

      Have you ever watched a mother who has two grown children walk by one of them and never look his way, never say a word to him? Ignore her own flesh and blood all so the alimony will keep coming? I, as a father, witnessed this atrocity today. The laws of alimony in Florida have a gut wrenching effect on people both young and old. Holding back his emotions, my son left Florida today devastated by the very woman who bore him.
      He will go forward with his life, but in his eyes he will do it without a mother.
      The Judges, Lawyers, and politicians should take note of this and eliminate the evil that is spread by an instrument of their own making
      Don’t let this happen to any other children, young or old.
      I love my son and he knows it.

    • Pat, my husband remained married to an abusive alcoholic/drug abuser for 25 years until their only child was grown and on her own. He was both mother and father to this child, all by working a full time job in addition to completing the nomal duties that go with maintaining a home. She worked when she wanted to and quit her job when she wanted to. She never contributed financially to the household. She was by no stretch of the imagination a poster child of the “stay at home mom” you portrayed in your post. He was never abusive towards her and tried numerous times to help her overcome her addictions. His reward for being a good husband and father was the awarding of lifetime alimony to a woman who refuses to work and take care of herself – AND the judge factored in my income as his second wife. Just so you know, all divorces do not fit your scenerio, and I would be quite interested in your response to my post.

      • You were there – firsthand – for all 25 years of his first marriage to believe all that he tells you as fact? And someone commented that I should take MY head out of the sand…

    • Pat, stop hiding behind the same old story of the poor victim wife. If you are indeed the ex wife or if you are a family lawyer, did you not recive a roof over your head and food, clothing etc while you were married to the now ex husband?? While you were at home “holding the ladder” as you say, He was out working and putting in long hours So is he not entitled to a decent life after the divorce?? OR are you the only one to be considered. TOO many alimony payers are living next to the poverty line because laws were made to take care of people like you who think they are “entitled”.. MOVE ON!!

    • Charles Ciraulo says:

      Pat, I pay lifetime alimony and had full custody of all the four children. Does being married 15 years give a person a right to be fully supported for life by an ex spouse of many years ago. By supporting her fully it takes away from the ability of me to help my kids more with college and contribute to the charities I love.

    • Charles Ciraulo says:

      Wait a minute. Just read Pat’s email more closely. She wrote:

      When a mature, sincere man is TRULY concerned for his CHILDREN’S WELL-BEING, he likewise understands fully their NEED for their MOTHER’S WELL-BEING. Alimony provides for just that when a man refuses to do the right thing on his own.

      So by MY BEING THE FULL CUSTODY parent of our children and her having moved out of state she should have refused lifetime alimony right? Bottom line in this case I am Mr. Mom full 100% time of our children and the alimony payor to a woman who abandonded her children and lives many states away now living off of the lifetime alimony I pay her. What say you now?

    • Pat, you made me laugh out loud; thank you for that. You seem to have convinced yourself that your husband would not have been successful without you. I would bet he begs to differ. YOU chose to do nothing with your life but raise children and do housework. Your husband, on the other hand, chose to work his tail off to support you and your kids. If you went to college, I bet you were one of those who went to earn your MRS degree, not to learn a trade or to get an education that would help you develop a career.

      I feel sorry for your husband, as your post reeks of your bitterness and entitlement attitude. How long did your poor husband suffer with that before he finally realized that he’d rather give up all his assets and pay you monthly to do nothing, rather than live another moment with you?

      • Edsebastian says:

        Since when is raising children doing nothing with your life. That is exactly the attitude which has brought us here. Sure there are vultures out there who will try to get what they can. That is why there are judges to decide each case fairly. Stay at home moms are not parasites as you portray. I wish I had had a stay at home mom.

    • Edsebastian says:

      I am an ex wife who has been sued after two years of settling my divorce. The settlement was agreed upon without a judges ruling. We agreed to permanant alimony in a set amount in the back room of the court.

      With the impending legislation , my ex decided to spend a year driving down his compensation at work. ( he owns his own corporation). He brought his income down to 1/4 of what it was during the time of the marriage (he had already driven it down in the 3 yrs before divorce was settled). In fall of 2011 ,knowing the bill would be brought in to state senate he sued me. The suit was to eliminate alimony and child support. Stating he could no longer afford it , and that I could go back to work.

      Lawyers on both sides felt the bill could pass. Therefore I was threatened, and he was encouraged to pursue litigation.

      Let me say at this point I am 52 yrs old have not worked in my profession for 18 yrs. and have physical limitations documented and known about by both parties dor years.

      Bringing this action devistated both myself and my child. It took away any feeling of security we had. I became depressed and suicidal. My child could not understand why this was happening and why he would do this to our family. He always made enough money to support three families if necessary, and now was reportedly too poor to even purchase a vehicle for our child as promised and pay for insurance. I had to do it.

      Now, with the bill not passing we are still awaiting a trial. I have had to rehire my attorney and pay all sorts of legal bills. We mediated to no avail. This has been stressful, upsetting and brought our life to a standstill.

      All because of this bill. 549. And greed.

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