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Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness were promised to each of us by our founding fathers. And the resulting legal system was intended to protect us and sustain us with reason, fairness and order. But the present state of family law makes this harder and harder to achieve – particularly in regards to divorce. Arbitrary laws and a confrontational legal system have created a litigious nightmare for many of us.

divorce cake alimony

 

Florida Chapter of the National Parents Organization’s was founded upon the same sound promise: that the dream of a decent life, the freedom to pursue it, and the resulting happiness are not for the few, not for those who have the most money or who have the most aggressive attorney, but for each one of us.

Florida Chapter of the National Parents Organization’s most immediate goal is the creation of reasonable guidelines in our Florida divorce law to inform and assist judges in their continuing oversight and orders for alimony. These guidelines would discourage the destructive practice of continued litigation in order to determine a ‘winner’ and a ‘loser’. The present adversarial situation is destroying families while creating wealth for the courts and litigating family lawyers.

THERE IS A BETTER WAY!

WHAT WE BELIEVE REGARDING ALIMONY REFORM

To achieve a constitutionally acceptable reform of alimony law,Florida Chapter of the National Parents Organization believes that the process of dissolution places undue burdens on those who simply wish to change their fundamental constitutional right of association and exercise their fundamental constitutional right of privacy by altering their marital status when they dissolve their marriage.

  • Floridians must be able to end their marriage with a well defined goal of minimal intrusion by the state and a well defined and reasonable time limit.
  • Alimony statutes must be reformed to be duration limited so that they are in accordance with other statute mandated entitlements such as child support, welfare, and unemployment compensation.
  • There will be a rebuttable presumption that the standard of living after a divorce will be lower than what was had during the marriage to ensure that both parties receive equal protection under the law.
  • An equitable division of assets must occur in order to achieve as close to a 50/50 distribution of all marital assets and liabilities as possible, apart from any transitional alimony award, unless exceptional circumstances occur.
  • Alimony must not be calculated or used to supplement a child support order.
  • Unbridled judicial discretion must be removed from alimony statutes.
  • The judiciary is a constitutional mandate to protect citizens from the legislative and executive branches of government. Therefore, the adversarial aspect of alimony must be removed to eliminate the profit motive.
  • Citizens seeking to dissolve their marriages are not victims of one another.
  • Reaching a reasonable retirement age and retiring from one’s profession will eliminate any future alimony obligation unless exceptional circumstances occur.

Divorce Sign alimony welfare

PRIMARY LEGISLATIVE GOALS

  • Support self-sufficiency for the lower-earning spouse through alimony payments during a transition period, which lasts more than a decade in long-term marriages.
  • Maintain appropriate judicial discretion to fairly judge unique circumstances where the lower-earning spouse is physically or mentally unable to work, continuing alimony payments in special cases, and only until no longer needed.
  • End lifelong alimony dependency, allowing both parties of the divorce to be able to move-on and live independent lives.
  • Protect second spouses from current case law, which requires judges to fully investigate second-spouses’ income/assets and then force the alimony payer to pay an increased amount of alimony to a first spouse based now on a new “family income” – or face jail.
  • End expensive legal battles over vague alimony laws and interpretations.
  • Provide equal and consistent treatment, so that the outcome of an alimony case is not decided by the Russian Roulette selection of the family court judge.

TOP 10 GOALS FOR FAMILY LAW in FLORIDA

(I) Judicial immunity and adversarial processes encourage legal abuse and do not adequately protect the Constitutional rights of parents and children in family court. Proposed Solution: Drive legislation to overturn judicial decisions that violate the Constitutional rights of litigants. Develop policies and practices to ensure accountability and recourse when rights and legal precedent aren’t upheld.

(II) Lack of transparency, consistency, and oversight creates a judicial and legal environment that allows for gross abuse and injustice and does not adequately represent and adapt to the needs of litigants and their families. Proposed Solution: Create a national website and develop additional resources to provide information, two way communication between family court officials and the litigants they serve, and assist families through the divorce and/or legal custody processes. Provide an ongoing commitment of resources to monitor and address family court issues. Provide data collection and reporting capabilities about judges, attorneys, and case outcomes.

(III) Financial gain creates an incentive for litigants and attorneys to pursue an adversarial process rather than collaborative methods that incorporate mediation and third party negotiation that are clearly better for families and children. Proposed Solution: Mandate and fund ADR / Mediation and require courts to inform and assist litigants who wish to use this option.

(IV) Parents should have a right to equal no or low cost representation in court or through third party mediation / negotiation. A parent without means to hire an attorney should not be required to research and argue case law against a licensed attorney in order to defend their own basic rights. Proposed Solution: Provide a simpler, more streamlined divorce option and require courts to inform and assist litigants who wish to use this option.

(V) Title IV-D creates incentives for states to award and collect higher rates of “child support” and “spousal maintenance” than are needed to meet the basic needs of the parties and children. Proposed Solution: Shift focus to enforcement of shared parenting time rather than child support; Provide education, counseling and mental health resources where necessary. Reduce incentive to raise support obligations higher than necessary to ensure that the basic needs of the child are met.

(VI) Requirement to assign one parent as the “primary custodial parent” and limit the rights of the other “non-custodial parent” encourages adversarial processes, false accusations and violates the Constitutional rights of both parents and children. Proposed Solution: Equal / shared parenting time (50/50) and decision making authority should be assumed unless otherwise necessary for the safety of the child and/or negotiated by the parents.

(VII) Support is not determined by actual income and necessary expenses to care for children; Child support is used as backdoor long term alimony; Failure to pay is treated as a crime without due process and violates the 13th and 14th amendments. Proposed Solution: Equal division of financial responsibility (50/50) should be assumed unless otherwise necessary to meet the basic needs of the child and/or negotiated by the parents. Revise or replace Bradley Bill to provide relief for parents that cannot pay. Use USDA calculations for basic needs of the child.

(VIII) Gender discrimination in handling of custody, support, and DV claims violate civil and Constitutional rights. Proposed Solution: Revise or replace VAWA to expand protections to men and women equally.

(IX) The long term effects of family court and its related agencies impact our entire society, but reform is not a priority for many, there is little consensus on the solutions and resistance from those who profit off the $50B divorce industry. Proposed Solution: Launch a multi-faceted national awareness campaign timed to become a key issue in the 2016 presidential election.

(X) Family court professionals and litigants need support and education both during and after proceedings. Proposed Solution: Provide ongoing support and information to the public and professionals.