Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Alimony and the 13th Amendment

"It cannot be assumed that the framers of the constitution and the people who adopted it, did not intend that which is the plain import of the language used. When the language of the constitution is positive and free of all ambiguity, all courts are not at liberty, by a resort to the refinements of legal learning, to restrict its obvious meaning to avoid the hardships of particular cases. We must accept the constitution as it reads when its language is unambiguous, for it is the mandate of the sovereign power."
— Cook vs. Iverson, 122, N.M. 251.

Here is an excellent article that summarizes one of the arguments against alimony, written in an article for the Florida Bar Journal by Stephen Martyak:

Reiss and Walsh’s Mathematics for Computing Imputed Income (July/August), while a thorough and cogent analysis of the improper imputation of income and its effect on alimony awards, erroneously reinforces the myth that imputation of income is lawful. Chapter 61 alimony provisions, which permit the courts to impute income, violates the U.S. Constitution’s 13th Amendment ban on involuntary servitude.

United States v. Kozminski, 487 U.S. 931, 942 (1988), a case in which the U.S. Supreme Court was faced with the problem of defining involuntary servitude in a criminal civil rights violation case demonstrates the applicability of the 13th Amendment to alimony statutes and explicitly to the concept of imputed income to affect alimony.

Servitude is a condition “in which a person lacks liberty especially to determine one’s course of action or way of life.”
Id. at 968. The Court held that involuntary servitude “necessarily means a condition…in which the victim is forced to work for [another] by the use or threat of physical restraint or physical injury, or by the use or threat of coercion through law or the legal process.” Id. at 952. Also, “we find that in every case in which this [c]ourt has found a condition of involuntary servitude, the victim had no available choice but to work or be subject to legal sanction.” Id. at 943.This is precisely what 61.08 alimony provision and imputed income do.

When the lifetime yoke of permanent alimony is placed around the neck of a Floridian who merely seeks to alter his or her right of association and marital status, the family bar guffaws when the victim exhorts, “This is slavery and against the 13th Amendment.” Like so many other myths about alimony law, the error is that, in fact, the statute does impermissibly infringe the 13th Amendment.

The 13th Amendment is judicially recognized as much broader that the naïve perception of men of color in chains in the 19th century. Perhaps, it is time that the Florida legal system awakens to the antediluvian charter of F.S. §61.08 and begins to shine the constitutional light on the alimony statute.

MARRIAGE STRIKE: Evidence that alimony laws are destroying the very fabric and building blocks of our society and nation.
* The New Paradigm

* Divorce cases of big shots hidden on secret Broward docket
* Judge removed a day after being re-elected
* Supreme Court suspends Grant Parish judge

* Sharia Courts: American Style

* Time To Address Domestic Violence Abuses

Be sure to visit these sites: www.abolish-alimony.org/ and www.alimonycentral.org