In his letter to the editor Mr. Manz suggests preserving permanent alimony laws are good for families and taxpayers. Unfortunately Mr. Manz claim is based on weak factual evidence and largely on an assertion that this is the way we've always done things in Florida, it's good for everyone, and change is bad. I do agree with Mr. Manz that alimony laws should support fairness and equity among divorcing couples and the long-term health of the family particularly where children are involved. However, Florida's current outdated alimony laws force acrimony between divorcing couples and divide families when it is completely unnecessary and could be changed for the better for everyone.
In my experience the current system of defaulting to permanent alimony for long-term marriages is in need of reform. As Mr. Manz states Judges are given free reign to determine "need" and "ability to pay". In a perfect world one could easily distinguish between a spouses need for money they do not earn and the other spouse's ability to pay from their earnings. Or one could simply use a rule of thumb that seems to prevail under current laws. That rule of thumb can be summarized as, if you've been married 20 years or more and if one spouse is making more than three times the other there will be permanent alimony, to the tune of about 30% of the higher wage earner, even when the kids are grown. As an aside I agreed to mediation after researching Florida's divorce laws and feared of ruining our life-savings from legal fees in the process of defending myself in court from my ex-wife who had admitted to having an affair.
My ex-wife had and I believe still has a great job as in the emergency room nursing industry working great hours with decent pay. I believe this as I no longer have any desire to talk or interact with her in any way. The ability of someone to cheat in a marriage and then demand and receive permanent alimony is disgusting. It is certainly a shame to our family as I have two grown boys that moved in with me as my wife and I were separating, and although I tried to isolate them from my feelings of disrespect, disgust, and disappointment about my wife some of these feelings were almost certainly felt by them.
Prior to our settlement I paid many of my wife's bills as she was getting on her feet. As such I can certainly understand bridge the gap type alimony in addition to splitting assets. But unfortunately due to Florida's dated, heavy-handed alimony laws this is not an option in long term marriages.