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NCFM Advisor Gordon Finley, Ph.D, Support alimony reform and equal shared parenting

April 26, 2013

gordon finleyAlimony laws are archaic and need revision. This is a historic opportunity to do just that. Mr. Finley, the group Floriday Alimony Reform, and numerous other organizations and individuals have labored for years for these reforms. If the good governor of Florida signs the reforms into law it will signal other states to do the same. Click here to sign the petition.

NOTE:  If you support Alimony Reform and Equal Shared parenting, please to the petition on Change.Org and sign it to urge Governor Rick Scott to sign the legislation.  There is massive and well-financed opposition from the Family Law Section of the Florida Bar demanding that he veto it:

Support alimony reform and equal shared parenting

The lead letter below was published in The South Florida Sun-Sentinel on Thursday April 25, 2013 and is followed by the article to which it responded.

Gordon E. Finley, Ph.D.

Support alimony reform and equal shared parenting,0,6177745.story


April 25, 2013

Regarding the April 18 story “Alimony law in Florida changes drastically under new bill:”

Writing as a divorced, alimony-paying, retired university divorce researcher, I urge Gov. Rick Scott to sign the alimony reform legislation currently sitting on his desk. Science is on the side of Sen. Tom Lee, who added equal shared parenting to the original alimony-reform bill.

There are two broad sets of replicated and internally consistent research findings that support Sen. Lee.

First, the children of divorce want equal shared parenting or something very close to it. Most children of divorce love both of their parents and want both to be involved in their lives for the rest of their lives.

Second, the research literature also shows that the children of divorce who maintain a close and meaningful relationship with both of their parents post-divorce fare far better on virtually all developmental outcomes as compared to children reared on a two-weekends-a-month visitation schedule for dad. The latter essentially is single-mother parenting, which consistently yields the worst developmental outcomes of all family forms.

If you believe that family policy should be based on science — rather than income derived from endlessly useless litigation — I would urge you to ask Gov. Scott to sign the alimony reform legislation before him.


Gordon Finley, Florida International University, Miami

Copyright © 2013, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Alimony law in Florida changes drastically under new bill,0,4195489.story

TALLAHASSEE Florida lawmakers sent Gov. Rick Scott a bill Thursday that would drastically overhaul the state’s alimony laws, reforming payments that opponents say have been critical to ex-spouses — mostly women — who are trying to rebuild their lives after the breakup of their marriage.

SB 718, approved by lawmakers by an 85-31 vote, would end permanent alimony, cap alimony awards based on a person’s income and the length of the marriage and make it easier for an ex-spouse to terminate or lower alimony payments upon retirement. It also gives parents equal custody of any children in the marriage.

Proponents of the bill said they were trying to update divorce laws, which they said were written at a time when women were expected to stay home. They argued that the current law could bind divorced spouses financially for life, depending on a judge’s ruling, and there needed to be stricter guidelines for the court.

Rep. Ritch Workman, R-Melbourne, the bill sponsor said the measure was about “fairness.”

“Look, we all know divorce is terrible, but our laws by their nature shouldn’t make divorce worse,” he said.

The proposal has been pushed by a group called Florida Alimony Reform, who has brought groups of people to Tallahassee to testify about how the current system has wrecked their lives or their families’ lives.

Terry Yochum, of Deerfield Beach, has been writing senators urging them to pass the legislation.

Married for 23 years, he divorced in 2004. He said he pays permanent alimony, and more than one-third of his salary goes to alimony “until the day I die. And she has access to my Social Security as well. I’ve sacrificed a lot. And it’s hard for me to move on with my life.”

“There are a lot of people in similar situations I am,” he added. “It’s hard to move on in your life when you have that monkey on your back, and remarry.”

The bill defines short, medium and long-term marriages. It says there is a “presumption” that alimony would typically be awarded for unions longer than 21 years, but it would be capped at 38 percent of the paying spouse’s gross income.

For medium-length marriages, of 11 to 21 years, the cap would be 35 percent of income; for those of less than 10 years, the limit would be 25 percent. Unless a judge found a specific reason to award extra alimony, the duration of the alimony would be equal to no more than half of the years of marriage.

Though many lawmakers agreed those caps were reasonable, the bill has generated controversy because in some cases, it allows a man or woman to retroactively change the terms of their divorce.

Yochum even acknowledged that those provisions could be unfair to older women who worked while they put their husbands through college or graduate school and then were divorced.

“There are two sides to every story,” he said.

In Boca Raton, the legislation led Jan Nastasia to start First Wives First because ex-wives still suffer, she told the Sun-Sentinel in an email. Many give up careers — and good incomes — to raise children, she said. Nastasia herself said she was a stay-at-home mom until her divorce after 24 years of marriage.

She wrote in an op-ed for Florida Voices, an opinion news website, that a vocational expert during her divorce said because she had opted to stay home, she would likely be capable of earning only about $29,000 a year, which is what her alimony was based upon. Her ex has since stopped paying, she wrote, and she is struggling to pay for simple things like groceries.

“If alimony reform passes, then I can join the 1.1 million Floridians on food stamps,” she wrote. “I’ll be standing in line for my welfare check while my ex-husband is skiing in Lake Tahoe.”

Workman said that under the measure, “non-modifiable” agreements should not be touched. But in cases of marriages of less than 15 years, when alimony has been paid for longer than that, the bill allows the award to be reduced or negated.

Additionally, longer marriages that produced a settlement agreed to as a result of “fraud, duress, coercion or overreaching” by one of the parties can also be undone by a judge.

Workman said he wanted to give judges discretion in cases where there were special circumstances, such as a large number of children or children with disabilities. Or, a spouse may need alimony for a longer time because he or she suffers from mental illness, he said.

Judges who make awards outside the guidelines established in Workman’s bill would have to state their reasons in writing.

“I said, ‘Here’s your guideline, but judge if you want to go past this, just write it down,'” Workman said.

Still, some lawmakers said the legislation could be viewed as anti-family and a deterrent to any woman who was thinking about staying home and giving up career security — and that it was especially unfair to women who made those choices decades ago.

“It’s unconstitutional and unbelievable that we would go back on a contract made between a husband and a wife when we know the culture back then said the woman should have stayed home and become a housemaker,” said state Rep. Kionne McGhee, D-Miami.

Gov. Scott has not weighed in on the bill yet, and members of the Florida Bar Family Law section are lobbying him to veto it. And some divorce lawyers are unclear whether the retroactivity provision would hold up constitutionally.

“It will be a entirely brave new world for us,” said Coral Springs divorce lawyer Mark Abzug. “The concept of permanent alimony is seemingly out the window. I think it will change the divorce rate; I think people would be more willing to get divorced.

“Men that have been hanging on might decide ‘OK, I know I have to pay alimony, but not for the rest of my life.’ They might decide to roll the dice.”

Donna Gehrke-White contributed to this report. or 850-224-6214


 Alimony laws need major reform.

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3 Responses to NCFM Advisor Gordon Finley, Ph.D, Support alimony reform and equal shared parenting

  1. NCFM on April 28, 2013 at 6:51 PM

    Sounds great! Now, we just need to clone you 10,000 times…

    • Ivan on April 28, 2013 at 9:05 PM

      Thank Harry . There is a female mayor wana be in Toronto who accused the current mayor 2 weeks a go of grabbing her ass at the party . She is the publisher of ‘Women’s Post ‘ . Hard core Feminist bud. Our Mayor Rob Ford is very popular and people didn’t believe her . A lot of women were defending him too. So it backfired on her . I’m so glad . To make it short. She lost and now she looks like a total idiot . Sometimes Feminists lose eh ? But its very rare ,I know.

      Also the big story today in Canada is that the very iconic Sports commentator Don Cherry sad that women have no place in Male locker rooms . He really sad it . I agree with him . Its gone way to far here in Canada .

  2. Ivan on April 28, 2013 at 8:55 AM

    Good effort guys , thank you !
    Harry I just left a very nice massage to President Obama on his Facebook page . Its very easy . I know for fact that he reads all massages on his Blackberry . We have to attack the problems head on . It reads – ‘ Mr. President thanks for taking care of women but what about the Men sir ‘? -90 % of Homeless people are all men in US , jails are full already !! – How does it sound Harry ? I think he will get it .
    Thanks again .

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