Alimony Reform Supporters Use Documentary Film to Bolster Their Case

Still motivated after their near-miss in the last session of the Florida Legislature, advocates for an overhaul to the state’s alimony laws are looking to a newly released documentary film to provide additional fuel to their cause. The film, entitled “Divorce Corp.”, allegedly demonstrates many of the excesses and flaws of Florida’s current system of family law and procedure. Proponents of changes to the laws governing alimony hope that the film will inspire the legislature to make another effort at reform, and that the governor will approve this time.

The Miami Herald reported on “Divorce Corp.”, which some theaters advertised as exposing “how children are torn from their homes, unlicensed custody evaluators extort money, and abusive judges play God with people’s lives while enriching their friends,” and its interrelationship with the movement within the state to amend Florida’s alimony laws. Alan Frisher, head of a pro-reform non-profit organization called Family Law Reform, supports the film. Frisher described “Divorce Corp.” as “another way to engage the public.” In addition to screenings of the documentary, Frisher also published a book entitled “Divorcing the System: Exposing the Injustice of Family Law,” and has held summits touting alimony reform.

In its 2013 session, the Florida legislature passed a controversial measure, Senate Bill 718, reforming alimony laws. The bill would have ended permanent alimony and established limits on the amount of alimony a spouse could receive. The changes would have also altered the definitions of short-, moderate- and long-term marriages. For example, the bill stretched the definition of “short-term” marriages from seven years or less to 11 years or less, and stated that the default outcome for short-term marriages is an award of no alimony.

Gov. Rick Scott vetoed the 2013 bill, but appeared to do so largely for technical reasons. Scott especially criticized a provision in the bill that would have allowed courts to apply the new alimony standards of SB 718 retroactively. Critics, including the governor, believed that the retroactivity provision could unfairly harm a divorced spouse who agreed to a particular property division based upon a certain expectation regarding alimony, which the new standards could potentially upset. The Family Law Section of the Florida Bar also opposed the measure, citing potential constitutionality concerns relating to the retroactivity provision.

Rep. Ritch Workman of Melbourne, one of the 2013 bill’s sponsors, is working on a retooled bill for the current session. Workman told the Herald that his new proposal would not do away with permanent alimony, and leave out the retroactivity provision that drew the ire of the bar and the governor.

Statutory law is ever-changing, and alimony law is no exception. Knowing the current state of alimony law, and what lies on the horizon, is essential as you weigh the terms of a potential divorce settlement. This is especially true for some divorcing spouses who may require alimony in order to survive financially. For thoughtful counsel and diligent representation in your divorce case, including seeking or opposing an award of alimony, talk to the South Florida family law attorneys of Sandy T. Fox, P.A. They have the experience and knowledge to help you weigh your options and choose the path that works best for you and your family.

Contact us online or by calling (800) 596-0579 to schedule your confidential consultation.

More Blog Posts:

Can You Modify Alimony in Florida?, Fort Lauderdale Divorce Lawyer Blog, Aug. 28, 2013
Text Message Reveals New Details on Future of Florida’s Alimony Bill, Fort Lauderdale Divorce Lawyer Blog, Aug. 8, 2013