Thursday, August 17, 2006

The Alimony Strike - Peaceful Civil Disobedience

It is not power that corrupts but fear. Fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it and fear of the scourge of power corrupts those who are subject to it.
-- Aung San Suu Kyi

This post is directed to those of you who are saddled with “lifetime alimony.” There have been many attempts to reform the alimony laws in order to remove inequities and bring equity to both spouses in a dissolution (divorce). These attempts are ongoing and will continue until a change is effected and “lifetime alimony” is eliminated.

The leader in the alimony reform movement, Dick Lindsey and his Alliance For Freedom From Alimony, Inc. (Alliance) group, are working with lobbyists in efforts to get the members of the Florida Legislature to become aware of the injustices of the family law system in applying the alimony statutes during divorces.

Bob Sell and his Political Action Committee (PAC) The Citizens For Liberty and Privacy, is working to put a ballot initiative in an upcoming election where the citizens of Florida can vote on a Constitutional Amendment to Abolish Alimony.

Numerous individuals who are members of the Alliance have filed lawsuits in court seeking a determination by the higher courts that the alimony statutes violate their constitutional rights by invading their Right to Privacy in addition to not maintaining the Separation of Powers between the Judiciary and the Legislature.

These challenges are currently in court awaiting decisions. You can follow their progress by clicking here and clicking here.

In what appears to be a groundswell response to make their voices heard, more people are lined up to file similar actions all across the nation. This movement for alimony reform is gaining momentum and will not stop until the legislatures of each state change the laws that are oppressing paying spouses with “lifetime alimony.”

However, there are other methods to effect change that have been used for many years by such men as Henry David Thoreau who pioneered the modern theory behind the practice of civil disobedience ,Mahatma Ghandi, Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, Nelson Mandella, among others.

Some scholars of nonviolence, argue that many movements have pragmatically adopted the methods of nonviolent action as an effective way to achieve social or political goals. Ideally, this method can be used in conjunction with the normal forms of instituting change as mentioned above. It is the more spectacular of approaches and one that will have the best chances of recognition.

In his essay on “Civil Disobedience,” Henry David Thoreau stated:

“Under a government which imprisons unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison.… where the State places those who are not with her, but against her, — the only house in a slave State in which a free man can abide with honor.… Cast your whole vote, not a strip of paper merely, but your whole influence. A minority is powerless while it conforms to the majority; it is not even a minority then; but it is irresistible when it clogs by its whole weight. If the alternative is to keep all just men in prison, or give up war and slavery, the State will not hesitate which to choose. If a thousand men were not to pay their tax (substitute ALIMONY in place of tax) bills this year, that would not be a violent and bloody measure, as it would be to pay them, and enable the State to commit violence and shed innocent blood. This is, in fact, the definition of a peaceable revolution, if any such is possible.” Read more…

IMHO, I feel we cannot rely solely on Dick’s and Bob’s efforts but we need to supplement them in other ways with the tools at our disposal. Somehow, somewhere, we need to alert the public to gain their recognition and support. If change is too slow in coming or cannot be brought about by conventional means, why not consider peaceful civil disobedience or some other similar alternative?

Few people realize the dangers and pitfalls of divorce along with the concurrent financial suicide that is frequently fostered on one spouse obligated to support the other spouse with “lifetime” alimony for the rest of their lives. The laws and enforcement are heavily weighted in favor of one spouse and are not administered on a gender-neutral basis.

There is no public outcry to right this wrong because this matter, by and large, is concealed from them until they get caught up in the whirlpool of family law injustice when subjected to divorce proceedings. And then, all they get from others is perhaps a little sympathy and that’s about all. Who steps up to fight this injustice? Who will challenge the laws that perpetuate it? Certainly not attorneys because this is their bread and butter.

No one will go to bat for the alimony payers. They are left to suffer in silence with little hope for relief from the courts. Alone, they have little chance of success in changing the laws. They need to unite and make their stand together. How can they do this? In addition to contacting the first two groups mentioned above to join forces, share information and strategies; you can consider uniting to do the following:

Imagine a scenario where alimony payers all across the nation stopped paying their alimony and were called into court. As Thoreau indicated, it would clog the courts immeasurably and bring public notice to the plight of those burdened with “lifetime alimony.”

An “Alimony Strike” is a form of peaceful civil disobedience and will make a statement that the media will certainly recognize and publicize if large enough amounts of people join in. Then, the legislators will take notice that something is required to change the laws.

One of the biggest problems to starting change seems to be that everyone who sees a change is necessary is waiting for someone else to make the first move. Everyone complains about it, but no one really does much else about it.

In reality, there are only a few who will do this. Most of those who are working to make changes through the courts are members of the Alliance. Their efforts and successes in Florida will ripple throughout the rest of the states. But, this method takes time. A catalyst is needed to precipitate things sooner. An “Alimony Strike” is one of the possibilities.

What is needed is someone to take charge and lead the movement. The person who effects this change will more than likely garner national recognition similar to that given to Rosa Parks who precipitated the changes to the civil right laws. She was just an ordinary person like you, who felt it was time to say NO! to the oppression. Any of you can do the same to precipitate change. You just have to stand up for your convictions and say NO! to the courts. Changing the alimony laws across the nation is closely related and surely will impact as many people as the civil rights movement.

You don’t have to wait until someone else starts it, you can do it yourself right now. But you will need to recruit others to join in with you. The first thing you need do is to start an email campaign advocating joining a peaceful resistance “Alimony Strike”, sort of like a chain letter, and to keep it moving to get support. Nothing comes easy and it will take work…but look at the goal and it will give you strength to persevere.

NOTE: It is not advocated to stop paying your child support. Be sure to keep them current.

Be sure to join our Yahoo Group forum to keep informed, to lend your support, and to let others know what you are doing. Ask anyone you know who pays alimony to join the forum and help spread the word.

* Monroe city judge serving sentence for judicial misconduct

* The Last Picture Shaw

* On the Duty of Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau, 1849
* Justice delayed, is justice denied. An essay on Civil Disobedience by Peter Suber.
* Civil Disobedience Manual
* SD Amendment Allowing Judges to be Sued Opposed by Insurer Trades


* If Women Controlled the World...

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