Big changes to alimony are in the works in Florida. I call it a HUGE wake up call for all spouses.
Yesterday, the Florida Legislature sent Gov. Rick Scott a sweeping measure that would alter the state’s alimony laws, including eliminating permanent alimony. Instead of permanent alimony, the measure places guidelines based on the length of marriages.
Several female legislators blasted the measure, saying taking away permanent alimony would punish women who chose to remain in the home and help raise children. Other female legislators were angry, too.
“Why would a woman agree to stay home, have children, be limited in her employment opportunities and then face financial disaster?” asked Rep. Elaine Schwartz, D-Hollywood.Rep. Cynthia Stafford, D-Miami, called the bill “anti-woman,” “anti-marriage” and “mean spirited.” Rep. Barbara Watson, D-Miami Gardens, said it would allow husbands to drop their wives after they decided they “needed a Barbie doll rather than a wife.”
My thoughts are that times have changed. Going forward, neither men or women should rely on each other completely for financial support for the rest of their lives — whether they are married or divorced!
Alimony should not be a crutch.
There's nothing wrong with the decision to stay home and raise a family, whether you're a man or woman. But if there's anything we've learned from a high divorce rate and a high unemployment rate it's this: no one can afford to drop out of the workforce completely or let their skills lapse for years while raising kids. It's just too risky.
Taking away permanent alimony might be a bid deal for some women (and men). But it shouldn't be.
If you choose to stay home and raise children, it's imperative today that you keep your skills fresh. There are all kinds of opportunities to do this that won't infringe on your work life balance. You can volunteer at your child's school or at a family-friendly non profit. You can take online classes or work part time while your children nap. You turn a passion or an idea into a business from your home.
But what you no longer can do, is rely completely for the rest of your life on your spouse's income.
At some point in life while you're raising kids or after they are on their own, it's likely you will need or want to go back to work to earn an income, restore balance or pay for your golden years. At a time when divorced parents are sharing custody, for a judge requiring a husband or wife to add "work" back into their work life balance equation, that's not anti-women or anti-men, it's just the reality of the 21st Century. I'm amazed it's taken this long for the laws to catch up.