TAVARAS, Fla., Jan. 16, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Tarie MacMillian was married for 13 years and has been paying $84,000 a year in permanent alimony for just as long to a former husband who hasn't worked since 1996. Despite having experienced a 75% decrease in her income, a judge ordered MacMillian to pay her ex-husband 65% percent of what she is currently earning – thereby forcing her to live off of just 35% of what she makes!
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"I have lost everything, my house, my car, I claimed bankruptcy and I suffered a stroke last year, but I can't retire because this alimony judgment is for life," said MacMillian.
Silvana Roncal also knows the financial devastation divorce can bring. Foreclosure, bankruptcy and a large debt to the Internal Revenue Service is what she has to show for her 18 years of marriage to a man who refused to work.
"I am a permanent alimony payer to a man who had an MBA, no disabilities, and is perfectly capable of working. I am unable to find a job in the financial services industry until I pay off the IRS debt, but first I must pay alimony!" Roncal said.
Their stories are not unique, but rather they typify the challenges facing those forced to pay permanent alimony. That's why Florida Alimony Reform (FAR) is asking the state legislature to implement changes during the upcoming legislative session.
The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers recently noted that 56% of divorce lawyers surveyed reported an increase in the number of women making alimony payments to their ex-husbands. That's no surprise given that the traditional role of stay-at-home mom has changed and more women are becoming the top wage earner in their households.
While times have changed, the outdated laws governing alimony haven't.
"Permanent alimony forces divorced people to become bitter enemies until they die," said Debbie Leff Israel, founder of the Second Wives Club, a subgroup of FAR. "The laws surrounding divorce have become so complex that any attempt to modify an alimony order when circumstances change -- as is so often the case in this economy -- typically requires an attorney to be retained at a substantial cost, and with little possibility of ever getting a modification. It becomes even less likely for previously ordered alimony payments to be eliminated."
The Tavaras, Florida based grassroots organization is seeking the following changes to existing laws:
- Removal of permanent alimony from current statutes;
- The need for alimony payers to have the right to retire at Federal Retirement Age or standard retirement age for high risk professions;
- A defined amount on a formula that is fair, and that averages income for both spouses;
- Second spouses' income shall not be used to calculate an upward modification of alimony
- The right to modify a current judgment;
- Make the law retroactive so that those saddled with alimony payments can get payments modified to comply with the new law;
- Alimony payment for mid-term and long-term marriages should be set at 50 percent the length of the marriage as the default duration;
During the upcoming Florida legislative session two bills will be introduced: One by Representative Ritch Workman (R-Melbourne) and the other by Senator Kelli Stargel (R-Lakeland) which seeks to reform the state's outdated alimony laws.
Founded in 2010, Florida Alimony Reform was created to change the state's antiquated alimony laws. Based in Tavaras, Florida, FAR represents more than 2,500 families across Florida.
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Source: Florida Alimony Reform