Gov. Rick Scott will soon get another chance to fix Florida’s archaic divorce law and put an end to routine awards of permanent alimony. It’s an issue whose time has come. It deserves his support.
Florida’s law dates to a day when women didn’t work outside the home, divorce was uncommon and cohabitation was scandalous. It says that if you get divorced after 17 years or more of marriage, your ex may have to pay you a monthly award for life.
Think about that. If you marry at 20 and divorce at 37, you could be stuck paying alimony forever. There is no obligation that your former spouse try to become self-sufficient. And if they live with someone else, there’s a disincentive for them to marry because they would lose their gravy train.
As it stands, the law can force some ex-spouses into bankruptcy, keep them from retiring or force them to spend thousands of dollars on attorney fees to try to amend long-ago awards. Even those who believe permanent alimony is appropriate agree that payments should be lowered at retirement age when most incomes drop.
No one is talking about eliminating alimony. Many spouses need and deserve financial help after a divorce, particularly those in their 50s, 60s and older. Especially in need are those who have never worked outside the home and would have trouble finding a job.
But current law gives too much flexibility to judges and creates a lifetime yoke for working people whose marriages have come to an end.