The Second Wives Club says it’s high time for alimony reform.
More moms than ever are paying child support and alimony to their former husbands after a divorce, according to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML). In a new survey, the AAML states that more than half of all divorce attorneys have noticed a sharp increase in the number of women paying alimony and child support to their ex-husbands after divorce in the past three years, because, the AAML says, 23 percent of all wives earn more income than their husband, and women now hold 51 percent of all managerial and professional jobs.
Alimony was originally intended for women whose husbands left them after a divorce, when women had few career opportunities and almost no civil rights. Fast forward to the present and women are contributing much more to the household income. In a modern twist to the interpretation of current divorce law, women who want to marry men who have been ordered to pay lifetime alimony to their former wife could have their own income counted against them.
The income of new wives of lifetime alimony payers is now considered family income and can be used to recalculate the amount of alimony payable to an ex-wife after a divorce. “Many women in Florida won’t marry their significant others for fear that part of their hard earned income and assets could be used to help support his ex-wife,” said Alan Frisher, a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst and co-director of the group Florida Alimony Reform (FAR), the largest alimony reform group in America, in a press release.
The Florida Second Wives Club, a FAR subgroup, is taking charge in the fight for alimony reform, representatives appearing in media across the Sunshine State. Florida is one of the few states that allows for permanent lifetime alimony, which does not end at retirement, but only ceases upon the death of either party, or remarriage of the recipient. During the 2012 Legislative Session, FAR proposed an overhaul of what it calls Florida’s “antiquated and outdated alimony laws.” The Florida House of Representatives, by a convincing vote of 83-30, passed HB 549 for alimony reform, but the bill died in the Senate. In Massachusetts, where alimony reform was signed into law this past September, the Massachusetts’ Second Wives Club was instrumental in their success.
“I do not see balance where a man can work so hard, a woman can collect a paycheck permanently from him, literally from the sweat of his brow, until the day he dies (and then she benefits from the proceeds of a life insurance policy he must keep for her), while she enjoys what most would consider a care-free existence,” wrote a Florida Second Wives Club member on the FAR website. “Heck, if he has to keep paying her for life, she should be earning her pay by doing his cooking and cleaning. Of course I’m being sarcastic, but I think you understand my point.”
Second Wives Club members say alimony reform is essential to bringing alimony laws in step with modern society, and the institution of marriage itself hangs in the balance for many couples.
“The current Florida laws stand in the way of me being happily married. Instead of enjoying a happy marriage, I feel sad and frustrated,” a woman wrote on the second wives club page of the FAR website. She wrote her fiancé was paying lifetime alimony to his ex-wife, and lifetime alimony is ridiculous, especially since he wants to spend the rest of his lifetime with her. “The reality is that I am not accepted into my fiance’s family as his ‘wife’, but rather as a girlfriend. The situation makes me feel like a second class citizen,” she wrote.
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