Alimony Battle Continues in Florida

By: Bryan Anderson Email
By: Bryan Anderson Email

Panama City- A Gulf County resident, who asked not to be identified, won't ever live a normal life again. We'll call him John and he suffered debilitating injuries during a 2001 car accident and now depends on the federal government to cover his ever-mounting medical bills.

"The other day I was in so much pain I had to go to the emergency room," said John,

Despite John's condition, Florida law still requires him to pay $2,000 per month in alimony to his soon-to-be ex-wife.

It's cases like John's the Florida Alimony Reform group want to change. They had hoped to do it through a reform bill this past legislative session. It passed the House, but failed to reach the Senate floor.

Two issues at the center of the debate are the amount of discretion judges throughout the state have in each case, and the fact that Florida is one of only a few states in the entire country that allows permanent alimony.

Supporters claim the current laws are progressive.

"We've changed it substanitally in two years, and were continuing to do so. Were open to fair reform," said Florida Bar Family Section Chairman David Manz.

Opponents call them outdated.

"If you call that progressive then we have a different definition of the word. I think the people who claim it to be progressive are the same people that are making money off this broken system," said Florida Alimony Reform Spokesman Alan Frisher.

Opinions aside, the reform bill failed and any possible changes to Florida's alimony statutes won't happen for at least another year.

"The government isn't going to do anything that's going to make them pay more money in social welfare programs, so they have an interest honestly, the state does, in maintaining a form of alimony," said Panama City Family Attorney Gerard Virga.

In the meantime, people like John are left deciding between necessary medical treatment and prison.

"I just give up. They're going to have to put me in jail. I can't pay it," said John.

The Florida Alimony Reform Group is already working on another reform bill for next legislative session, hoping for a better outcome in 2013. The Family Section of the Florida Bar said it's ready for the fight.

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  • by Terry Location: Clearwater on May 7, 2012 at 03:33 AM
    Mr. Manz is a tool of the Florida Bar Family Law Attorneys. I doubt he believes anything he says himself...he's just dancing the party line to keep the big paydays coming for the the expense of the families of Florida. After 51 months trying to get divorced, I've yet to meet an attorney in this business who wasn't a dirtbag crook. They're all after your money, folks. Every single one of them. Regardless of who they tell you will pay for their services...they'll drain all the assets from the marriage to stuff in their pockets. Don't get divorced in Florida. The system is crooked and stacked against you if you have any money or a decent income.
  • by TG Location: Destin on May 6, 2012 at 07:34 PM
    Ever wonder why it's always the lawyers that argue against reform? Well, Florida family law is big money and they are not about to let go of their gravy train so easy. Eventually this state will be held up as a pariah and eventually lawmakers will feel the heat of nationwide condemnation.
  • by really !!!!! Location: Bay on May 3, 2012 at 10:09 AM
    Dear john, are you kidding me.... they are goin to put you in jail if you dont pay ???? NOT.... they cant, Cause there is a state law, that noone shall go to jail or prison for any debt, UNLESS its a fraud case, I will post the statue number, so you might want to get an attorney..... yea it will cost some money, but then counter suit the state for it back...
    • reply
      by Truth on May 8, 2012 at 06:11 PM in reply to really !!!!!
      Dear Mr Really, I think that you are an attorney posting here. If you say that you can not go to jail why then did the judge threaten me multiple times to put me in jail. Mr Cabana was thrown in jail for failure to pay when he was retired. I think that you need to check your facts before posting.
  • by Kenny Location: St Petersburg, FL on May 2, 2012 at 08:29 AM
    Bryan, thanks for this expose on FL alimony. The education is greatly needed as most people don't know the extent of what's going on in this state. If you look at how the bill died in the Senate, realize that those who killed it are or were family law attorneys. This is a huge conflict of interest. Our politicians should not be able to vote on what affects them financially!!! The old boy network in FL politics is alive and well. Advice to men- don't get married in FL without an iron clad prenup.
  • by Brian7 Location: PC on May 2, 2012 at 08:13 AM
    Don't know who you guys' attorneys were, but I divorced in the late 80's and we split everything, and I was ordered to pay child support. No alimony. You guys need to hire better lawyers.
  • by Carlos Location: Orlando on May 2, 2012 at 06:46 AM
    The alimony laws are antiquated and unfair. Alimony is justified only as a means towards helping the party in need to work according to their level of skills and education. Alimony is viewed too often as a pension and not a transition from a relationship in which both parties agreed was a mistake. What is the definition of equality? Update the alimony laws--as so many other States have done.
  • by Bob II on May 2, 2012 at 06:06 AM
    Nothing is fair about one party being forced to pay money to the other after the relationship has been severed. Being forced to labor for someone against ones will is slavery. Those receiving long time alimony usually end up getting more than 100% of the marital assets while the payer gets a negative amount ( ) Also, most of those receiving alimony end up at one time or another cohabitating with someone else of the opposite sex, thus the payer ends up supporting two people.
  • by Jim Montgomery Location: Jacksonville on May 1, 2012 at 08:59 PM
    After loosing my job, I to am threatened with JAIL time. After bankruptcy, foreclosure, and now on food stamps, what more do I have to loose. This is SLAVERY. Please give us our life back. End Lifetime Alimony NOW!
  • by Chris Spears Location: Jacksonville on Apr 30, 2012 at 06:41 PM
    Alimony needs an overhaul! This is a very different society than when these laws were created in 1800's. Mr. Manz says they are progressive, now. That's a joke! There needs to be set duration and amounts for alimony. If it's good enough for children than why not adults? And, for God sake, make the laws around co habitation and supportive relationships strict and concise. There is way to much wiggle room. If, someone lives with you the majority of the time over a few month period than that's it, you don't get a free ride anymore. If you happen to break up or things don't work out, sorry, you should have thought about that. There are consequences for what we do and there are laws to make things fair and just. We need new ones!
  • by Bob Location: Sebastian Florida on Apr 30, 2012 at 05:09 PM
    Bryan, thanks you for this short expose' that shows in 2 minutes the insanity that some of us have been fighting against for years. David Manz of the Florida Family law Bar should resign immediately. His willingness to put up a defensive front in favor of Florida's alimony laws shows beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Bar is running a boiler plate scam designed to relieve innocent people of their lifelong assets at the lowest point in their lives. They do this by "creating" victims & criminals out of people who did nothing but exercise their constitutional right of association. Dig deeper Bryan, there's plenty more where this story came from. Inn fact, you may find the real criminals are the family law bar.
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