Monday, December 7, 2015
When alimony reform comes to Florida, it may be too late for Tarie MacMillan, a 65-year-old who runs a jewelry business near Tampa.
MacMillan was ordered to pay her ex-husband $7,000 a month 15 years ago. Even so, she has joined the crusade to lobby state legislators to change the legal obligation to provide financial support to a spouse before or after marital separation or divorce.
Some states have already put curbs on judgments, particularly for marriages of less than 20 years, but most, like Florida, are still in progress or are constantly evolving.
“I thought I was my own island of misery that I had to go through this, but once I got involved I was very impressed. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel,” she said.
Alimony, otherwise known as spousal support or maintenance, is an ongoing payment by the higher-earning spouse to the lower-earning one. It has changed and shifted over the 40 years since the Supreme Court ruled that it had to be applied equally to both genders.
Yet it is still heavily weighted toward men paying women. Only 3% of around 400,000 alimony recipients are male, according to the 2010 census, up 0.5% since 2000. Recipients claimed $9.2 million in payments in 2013 on their tax returns.
Unlike child support, which is common when divorcing couple has kids, alimony awards have always been very rare, going from about 25% of cases in the 1960s to about 10% today, said Judith McMullen, a professor of law at Marquette University. In one study of Wisconsin cases, she found it was only 8.6%.
Now that women are paying alimony more often, they are getting involved in advocating for change.
Read more here.