Some want to believe that we have progressed enough in our society to have outgrown the need for certain things. One of those concepts that some would like to see fall by the wayside is alimony. Although the argument can be made that with women in the workforce, the need to pay them monthly for the rest of their lives is no longer necessary, there are still flaws in the argument. Not to mention, it completely glosses over why alimony is actually paid in the first place.
Recently, Florida governor Rick Scott vetoed a bill that would have eliminated permanent alimony for spouses. Some organizations, such as Florida Alimony Reform (FAR) were disappointed by this action. Others, however, breathed a sigh of relief. Eliminating permanent alimony would have risked the equitable division of assets for a lot of divorcing couples, equity the injured spouse would never be able to recoup, no matter how long they were in the workforce.
Here’s why: For couples who are only married for a few years, rehabilitative alimony kicks in to give the spouse who did not work a chance to get back on his or her feet. It’s not permanent alimony and ends after a set period of time. Permanent alimony was never intended for short-term marriages. For couples who were married for 20, 25, or more years, this is where permanent alimony truly comes into play. A spouse who stayed at home while the other worked invested time and resources into the marriage. They raised the kids, supported the spouse in his or her career endeavors and ran the household. If a couple in that situation divorces, the spouse who did not work would never recoup the investment. Permanent alimony serves to attempt to balance the equitable distribution of assets in the marriage. It accounts for the intangibles.
The ending of a marriage is a sad period for everyone involved, however it should not be punitive for either party. Anyone who is facing a divorce and has questions about alimony would be wise to speak with a legal professional about their options. These professionals could determine if alimony – rehabilitative or permanent — is an option that should be explored.
Source: Orlando Sentinel, “My Word: Permanent alimony rights a wrong” Jerry Reiss, Oct. 01, 2013