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NCFM Advisor Gordon Finely on why do bar associations oppose alimony reform? $$!

May 6, 2013

The reason attorney’s fight against alimony reform.

NCFM NOTE: Notice the editorial below opposing alimony reform says, “If she finds herself divorced after 16 years, she would be expected to re-enter the workforce and become fully self-supporting within eight years. This simply ignores the harsh realities of today’s job market, and it tells parents they cannot risk staying home with their young children,” which is absurd on its face. First, stay at home moms divorced after 16 years often have used the “stay at home” time to get a college degree or other skills training; or, they achieved professional licensing or other proficiencies before they were married. In eight years a person can get an AA, BA, a Masters Degree, and graduate  law school. Or, they can go to a trade school and develop a well paying skill in six months to two years. I don’t care how bad the job market is. If a person can’t find a way to make a living in eight years they’ve been dead for four or more of those years; or, they haven’t cared enough to seriously seek employment. Whoever wrote this article apparently believes that stay at home parents, in this case women, are so stupid they have not developed any skills managing a home and family. If I were a woman I would be offended by such buffoonery.

The Bar’s real motivation

The letter below was published in The Tampa Bay Times on Saturday, April 27, 2013 and is followed by the Editorial to which it responded.

Gordon E. Finley, Ph.D.

The Bar’s real motivation

Here is why Gov. Rick Scott should ignore the Divorce Vultures of the Family Law Section of the Florida Bar and sign the Alimony Reform bill.

The Florida Bar is motivated only by greed — not the best interests of the child or even those of the divorcing parents. In crafting and opposing legislation, the Bar’s goal is simple: write family law to maximize judicial discretion in order to maximize litigation. The Bar wants to maximize litigation so that divorce lawyers can charge vast sums to pick the last remaining dollars off the bones of the formerly intact family.

I urge Florida citizens to wake up to this hypocrisy and ask Scott to sign the alimony bill that passed both chambers by more than a 2-1 margin.

Gordon E. Finley, professor of psychology emeritus, Florida International University, Miami

Editorial: Gov. Scott should veto alimony bill

It’s true that the 1950s are long past and men and women are more economically equal. But a bill sent to Gov. Rick Scott goes too far in taking alimony support from lower-earning spouses and stay-at-home parents, who are still overwhelmingly women. State law governing divorce is ripe for reform, but the Legislature has gone too far. Lawmakers have approved a whole new set of rules that unfairly rebalance the alimony scales to free higher earners of their long-term obligations to a former spouse. It’s not fair, and the governor should veto the bill.

Abolishing permanent alimony has been a long-standing goal of advocates for primarily divorced men and their new spouses. The group, Family Law Reform, says judges in the state sometimes provide permanent alimony in marriages that last as little as 15 years. This shackles the divorcing spouses to each another for life and may provide little incentive for alimony-receiving spouses to re-enter the workforce or remarry.

The group has a point. There are abuses. But the bill’s pluses don’t outweigh its minuses. The legislation dictates a series of formulas and unreasonably limits judicial discretion. What is fair in divorce is highly dependent on individual circumstances.

Under the legislation, alimony would be based almost entirely on the duration of the marriage without giving due weight to the needs of the parties and the capacity of the higher-earning spouses to pay, as it is now. There would be a presumption against any alimony for marriages of 11 years or fewer — longer than about half of all marriages last. That would preclude even a brief period of financial support for a spouse to obtain job training or a degree. And even when alimony is awarded, it could be for no more than 50 percent of the length of the marriage, unless a judge determines in writing why there is a need to depart from the rule.

Consider the woman who leaves a career to raise children upon mutual agreement with her husband that this division of labor is best for the family. If she finds herself divorced after 16 years, she would be expected to re-enter the workforce and become fully self-supporting within eight years. This simply ignores the harsh realities of today’s job market, and it tells parents they cannot risk staying home with their young children.

This is a full-employment bill for divorce attorneys. The legislation applies retroactively and allows alimony payers to reopen their finalized divorce settlements. Not only will this overwhelm the courts, but ex-spouses who were promised alimony and structured their lives based on that income stream could soon find it comes to an abrupt end. When divorces are settled, lower-earning spouses often agree to give up property or other marital assets in exchange for that alimony. It isn’t fair to have those payments yanked away.

The family law section of the Florida Bar opposes the bill because of its impact on children. Divorce law needs work, but the Legislature went overboard and Scott should veto the legislation.


The reason alimony reform is so difficult.

Alimony is a Florida divorce lawyer’s best friend.

Permanent alimony is a staple of the Florida Bar Association.


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2 Responses to NCFM Advisor Gordon Finely on why do bar associations oppose alimony reform? $$!

  1. Farrah Deserres on June 5, 2018 at 7:48 PM

    Normally I don’t learn article on blogs, but I wish to say that this write-up very pressured me to take a look at and do so! Your writing taste has been amazed me. Thank you, very great article.

  2. Elena on May 7, 2013 at 9:28 AM

    Yes ,we know, laws are outdated . Government is dysfunctional when it comes to social issues . They can’t keep up ,specially in the US . Harry ,get 20 or 30 volunteers to march in front of the Governor’s office in Florida for a week and you see how they going to crack ! Specially when TV cruise start arriving . That’s how women are getting what they want . I would imagine that in that bad economy where 25 million Americans are on food stamps you can find 30 well motivated people .Give them a nice lunch , good orientation , and invite them back for diner when the ‘JOB’ is done as a reward !
    You get what I’m saying right Harry ? Should not be hard to find volunteers to help you cause in the Country that puts so many men in jail ,some times over a minor staff . There is an Army out there of men and women who are just waiting for your order . Just have to reach for them . You do have people on stand by ? Right Harry ?

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