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NCFM Advisor GORDON E. FINLEY Ph.D. Professor of Psychology Emeritus — Governor waging war on men vetoed alimony reform

May 29, 2013
By
alimony

Well… it works this way in Florida. Even though our legislature unanimously voted in support of alimony reform there were a few women and a bunch of family law attorneys who make gazillions of dollars from the present system. So I vetoed it.

The letter below was published in The St. Augustine Record on Friday, May 10, 2013 and is followed by the article to which it responded.

Gordon E. Finley, Ph.D.

Governor waging war on men

http://staugustine.com/opinions/2013-05-09/letter-governor-waging-war-men

By GORDON E. FINLEY Ph.D. Professor of Psychology Emeritus

Florida International University, Miami

Editor: Yet again Florida’s Medicare Fraudster lies to the citizens of Florida and continues his war on men (“Scott vetoes bill to end permanent alimony,” 5/2/13). His veto letter implicitly lies by suggesting that a half-century of Family Law and Family Court Practice has been a level playing field where both men and women have been treated equally, fairly, and that when men signed permanent alimony agreements they did so of their own free will and free of any duress. Anyone familiar with Family Court Practice knows that this lie is as bald faced as Scott himself.

Scott also wrote “Current Florida law already provides for the adjustment of alimony under the proper circumstances.” Were one to fact-check this direct quote from his veto letter, one would obtain a score of zero out of one hundred. Permanent alimony — which Scott favors — really is permanent and ends only with the death of one spouse. It is virtually impossible to modify permanent alimony no matter if you have Alzheimer’s disease or your income drops substantially or to zero. Pay or Gov. Scott will send a man (but never a woman) to debtor’s prison.

Gov. Scott is so desperate to get the “woman’s vote” that he is willing to wage a war on men and prey on men who already have been preyed upon by an unjust Family Court System.

I hope that his wife divorces him and takes him for every penny he’s got.

Perhaps then, and only then, will he understand that Family Law — which he so fervently embraces — really is a war On men.

Scott vetoes bill to end permanent alimony

http://staugustine.com/news/florida-news/2013-05-02/scott-vetoes-bill-end-permanent-alimony

TALLAHASSEE (AP) — Gov. Rick Scott vetoed a bill late Wednesday that would have ended permanent alimony in Florida.

Scott vetoed the measure (SB 718) just four hours before the midnight deadline to approve or veto it. The bill automatically would have become law if Scott had done nothing by then.

If it had become law, Florida would have become the fifth state to abolish permanent alimony.

In a letter to Senate President Don Gaetz, Scott commended bill sponsors Ritch Workman in the House and Kelli Stargel in the Senate — both Republicans — and said there are “several forward looking elements of this bill.”

But alimony “represents an important remedy for our judiciary to use in providing support to families as they adjust to changes in life circumstances,” Scott wrote. “As a husband, father and grandfather, I understand the vital importance of family.”

Scott could not “support this legislation because it applies retroactively and thus tampers with the settled economic expectations of many Floridians who have experienced divorce,” he wrote. “The retroactive adjustment of alimony could result in unfair, unanticipated results.”

Florida law “already provides for the adjustment of alimony under the proper circumstances,” Scott wrote. “The law also ensures that spouses who have sacrificed their careers to raise a family do not suffer financial catastrophe upon divorce, and that the lower-earning spouse and stay-at-home parent will not be financially punished. Floridians have relied on this system post-divorce and planned their lives accordingly.”

The proposed law also would have set limits on the amount of alimony and how long one would receive financial support from an ex-spouse.

The bill would have made it harder to get alimony in short-term marriages. And it would have prevented alimony payments from lasting longer than one-half of the length of the marriage.

It also would have required judges to give divorced parents equal custody of their children absent extraordinary circumstances.

“I’m actually surprised,” said Jason Marks, a divorce attorney in Miami, about the veto. The bill had passed the House 85-31, with members of both parties crossing over. The Senate approved it 29-11.

“My assumption is, you haven’t heard the last of it,” Marks said. “Most family law practitioners will agree that uniformity in determination of alimony is a good thing.”

The bill said that in a short-term marriage, defined as less than 11 years, the assumption is that alimony would not be awarded. If alimony were granted, it would not be more than 25 percent of the ex-spouse’s gross income.

For marriages that last between 11 and 20 years, there’s no assumption either way in the bill, but alimony would not have amounted to more than 35 percent of the ex-spouse’s gross income.

And in marriages longer than 20 years, there was an assumption in favor of alimony, though not more than 38 percent of an ex-spouse’s gross income.

Moreover, the bill did not automatically end alimony when the paying ex-spouse retired, but that person could have asked a judge to reduce the payment or even end it. The judge could have considered age at retirement, ability to pay alimony and the financial situation of the person receiving alimony.

alimonyAlimony reforms are needed yesterday.

Lifetime alimony is a lucky lottery draw that pays forever for doing nothing.

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