Thursday, June 22, 2006

Alimony: Peonage or Involuntary Servitude?

"It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope." --Robert Francis Kennedy

Here is an excellent article that puts the matter of peonage and involuntary servitude into perspective and relates to New York and California laws. In addition there is some discussion regarding marriage as a “contract” as opposed to a “sacred obligation.” It concludes that it is a concept whose time has come to challenge the laws.

Here is the article:

“Unfortunately, divorce is now the tragic end result of over forty-percent of all marriages. Divorcing spouses have many things to consider. One major consideration is money. Most spouses contemplating divorce must be prepared for economic suicide. The income that marginally maintained one middle-class household will most surely not be able to maintain two. This is especially so where one spouse is not yet or never has been in the workforce. Nevertheless, though at least one judge has stated that he views divorce as a luxury, as applied to the division of spousal economic resources, it is often a necessity before one or the other spouse breaks down mentally, emotionally, or physically. In any event, this article does not deal with the most important issue facing divorcing spouses, that of child custody, support and visitation, but with an almost equally important issue, the determination of alimony or spousal support or maintenance.

For such a determination may result in one spouse actually supporting the other for a period of time, and even for a lifetime, and sometimes resulting in the supporting spouse’s inability to sustain such support and be held in contempt, or coupled with child support result in the inability to provide properly for the child or children when in his or her care. No wonder, for many, an award of maintenance, and especially of lifetime maintenance, may smack of peonage or involuntary servitude. Read more…..

MARRIAGE STRIKE: Evidence that alimony laws are destroying the very fabric and building blocks of our society and nation.
* A 'marriage strike' emerges as men decide not to risk loss

* Judge Plays Race Card In Removal Action
* Victim: Judges Need To Guide And Protect
* Disorder In The Court
* NY High Court Considers Removing Judge for Helping Robbery Suspect ...

* The Betrayal of the Military Father

* Google Blog Search Beta: Google launched a beta search tool for Weblog content. According to information at Search Engine Watch, "Google blog search scans content posted to blogs and feeds in virtually real-time."

Be sure to visit these sites: and

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Hillier v. Iglesias: Defining Need and Ability To Pay

Lawyers are the only persons in whom ignorance of the law is not punished.
-- Jeremy Bentham

This case dramatically changes the landscape in Florida for adjudicating alimony awards and modifications. Namely, the starting point and most significant point must be a demonstrated NEED by the party requesting alimony. The next significant point is the ability of the other party to pay. Chief Justice Farmer's specially concurring statement clarifies it succinctly:

HILLIER v. IGLESIAS, 901 So.2d 947 (Fla.App. 4 Dist. 2005)
Chief Justice FARMER, C.J., concurring specially.

“The only undisputed purpose for alimony recognized in the cases in this state — the recipient's need — is clearly lacking in this case. Even if she had a need for alimony when the marriage was dissolved, it is obvious that she no longer does.

The former wife's rationale for keeping alimony going is that it is necessary to allow her to live in the style to which they were accustomed during marriage. I believe she misunderstands the purpose behind the factor relating to standard of living. In fact I believe the cases have given this factor an importance far beyond its intended role.

The factors that the court is required to consider in fixing an amount of permanent alimony are specified by statute. § 61.08(2), Fla. Stat. (2005). The statute says:
"In determining a proper award of alimony or maintenance, the court shall consider all relevant economic factors, including but not limited to:
(a) The standard of living established during the marriage.
(b) The duration of the marriage.
(c) The age and the physical and emotional condition of each party.
(d) The financial resources of each party, the nonmarital and the marital assets and liabilities distributed to each.
(e) When applicable, the time necessary for either party to acquire sufficient education or training to enable such party to find appropriate employment.
(f) The contribution of each party to the marriage, including, but not limited to, services rendered in homemaking, child care, education, and career building of the other party.
(g) All sources of income available to either party. The court may consider any other factor necessary to do equity and justice between the parties."
Id. I note that the statute directs the court to consider all "relevant" factors but does not specify any listed factor as always relevant. I also note that the statute does not make any of these factors more important than another. Nor does the statute stipulate that any particular factor is always dispositive.

This listing of "relevant economic factors" was added to the statute in 1978 and was obviously part of the statute at the time Canakaris was decided in 1980. In amending the statute the legislature did not adopt a statutory standard for determining when to award alimony. In short, the legislature did not intend to overturn the line of cases (cited in the majority opinion) holding that the purpose of alimony is to provide the necessities of life to a needy former spouse. It is clear that the statute does not modify the foundation facts for all alimony awards, namely need and ability.

From the actual text employed in these statutory factors, I think it is clear that the standard-of-living factor is obviously not applicable in every case. For example, in a marriage of modest assets and income with only one spouse having income, it would be absurd to think the paying spouse could maintain two households at the same standard of living after the dissolution.

Dividing a standard of living on a $50,000 annual income into two new households does not result in the two halves each remaining at the $50,000 level. Clearly the standard-of-living factor must be intended to apply only when "equity" would make it so.

If the standard-of-living is not a super — or omnipresent — factor in setting the amount of alimony, it must have only a case specific, and more limited purpose. I think its intended use was to avoid having alimony set at bare subsistence levels when the standard of living during marriage was significantly better and the payor has the ability to pay more than minimum wage, so to speak. The middle class professional, as well as the wealthy plutocrat, who exposes the spouse to a standard during marriage beyond the mere necessaries of life should be required to do better than mere subsistence with alimony. The purpose of the standard-of-living factor, therefore, is not to equalize the post marital lifestyle. Instead it is intended to avoid allowing the payor who makes enough to get away with mere subsistence.

Beyond that concept I do not believe the standard-of-living factor has much, if anything at all, to do with setting the amount of alimony in many cases. I do not think it is even relevant to do equity where both former spouses have annual earnings in the upper 10% of all incomes in this country. And I certainly do not agree, as the former wife argues here, that it is an imperative requirement in maintaining alimony long after the recipient has attained the income level she enjoys. Cf. Kahn v. Kahn, 78 So.2d 367, 368 (Fla. 1955) ("We do not construe the marriage status, once achieved, as conferring on the former wife of a ship-wrecked marriage the right to live a life of veritable ease with no effort and little incentive on her part to apply such talent as she may possess to making her own way.").

In my opinion the essential need for any alimony at all is always relevant as a determinative factor. Because it is clear that the evidence in this case demonstrates beyond any doubt that
she no longer has any need for alimony, I would reverse on that issue and direct the trial court to enter an order terminating all alimony."

There you have it….the reasoning and justification behind alimony. This is what you should concentrate on when presenting your arguments before the court.

* A Rebuke of Modern Judicial Practices
* Judge Admonished For Making Demeaning Comments
* Detroit judge is suspended, ordered to see psychiatrist

* Public Records This public records finding aid categorizes select commercial and free databases. It covers sources of business filings, UCC filings, professional licenses, death, divorce and marriage records and more. Visitors should note that it is part of a commercial network maintained by David Moskowitz, founder of Florida-based Case Breakers, Inc. The network includes Case Breakers and Sexual Offenders.

Be sure to visit these sites: and

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Lawsuit Challenges The Constitutionality Of The Alimony Statutes In Florida

“Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety”. --Benjamin Franklin

The first of many lawsuits to be filed around the state by various alimony-paying individuals has been filed in Sarasota County, Florida by the author of this blog. It challenges the constitutionality of the Florida alimony statutes on the basis of Right to Privacy and Separation of Powers. You can see the case-filing it here

What is being asked of the court is for them to rule that the present alimony statutes are unconstitutional and that they should be declared null and void. Just about anyone paying alimony has “legal standing” to file a lawsuit like this.

Previous attempts to have the lawsuit brought before the courts have been met with accusations of frivolousness, procedural errors and numerous other obstacles that have prevented it from being seriously considered by the higher courts. You can see the unsuccessful attempts here.

Because of the nature of these filings with the profound effect it will have on the family law system and the attendant legal profession, these filings are being met with overwhelming resistance. The immediate effect of having the alimony statutes declared unconstitutional is for the legal profession to lose approximately 50 to 75 per cent of their income due to loss of business. This is my own estimate, but I feel I am in the ballpark as there is no accurate way to predict this figure. Common sense will tell you they will lose a bunch of gelt.

It is apparent that few judges or attorneys want to be associated with a favorable ruling on this matter. Think of the ostracism they will get from their peers for doing so. It is against this backdrop of insider resistance where we are seeking justice. Our hope is that we will be fortunate enough to get one of the judges to rule on our case who is not constrained by income motivations. One who has a conscience and rigid sense of ethics to recognize the validity and logic of our arguments. One who has the courage enough to uphold their oath of office, and that is.…to defend the constitutional rights of people in their court.

The more of these cases that can be filed with the courts, the sooner the judicial system will take notice of the extent that they are violating the constitutional rights of divorced spouses who have to pay alimony. To see the rights they are violating, read more......

I’m sure there are those of you who will bemoan the loss of the present system that is weighted heavily in favor of women, contributes to alimony dependence and, to some extent, contributes to the destruction of rebuilding new family units subsequent to dissolution.

The purpose of abolishing the alimony statutes is to eliminate the unconstitutional intrusion into the lives of married people. I feel it is analogous to clearing the land of any old structures before building a new one. So too, with the present laws. They are inequitable and administered by judges with too much discretionary power that is subject to their whims and prejudices. We need to abolish them and rebuild anew.

In their place, we need something that is more substantive and equitable to be used as guidelines in settling dissolutions of marriages. Something that will not violate our constitutional right to privacy, yet will solve the problems that arise in a non-adversarial atmosphere.

* Judge reprimanded for relations with lawyer
* Judge Apologizes, Blames Actions On ADHD

* Judiciary Gone Amok In Northern Ohio

Be sure to visit these sites: and

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Profit Motive of the Legal System

"Difficult times such as these have always tested our fidelity to the core democratic values of openness, government accountability, and the rule of law. The Court fully understands and appreciates that the first priority of the executive branch in a time of crisis is to ensure the physical security of its citizens. By the same token, the first priority of the judicial branch must be to ensure that our Government always operates within the statutory and constitutional constraints which distinguish a democracy from a dictatorship." - recent opinion in Center For Nat. Security Studies v. U.S. Dept. of Justice, 2002 WL 1773067 D.D.C.,2002. Aug. 2, 2002

The methods the courts use to enforce the alimony laws and statues are violating your Constitutional rights largely as a way to fill the pockets of the legal profession and that is the focus of this blog. A profit motive is what is driving the present system and is at the seat of the inequity. There is very little being done to ease the pain of family dissolutions.

While this is not about child-support, it is about alimony, which usually goes hand-in-hand with child-support. Consequently, spouses who are unable to pay the support are most often times not able to pay the alimony either. So when you see child-support mentioned here, you can take it to mean that alimony is close by.

Some of you will undoubtedly come up with situations where you or an individual you know were cheated out of support or alimony by your ex-spouse or other similar abuse. Yes, inequities do exist for both spouses but it is felt they are the exceptions rather than the rule. How many more innocent people are abused by the family law system than are helped by it?

A similar situation exists in opinions held by people on the death penalty. Opponents of it declare that they would rather see many criminals avoid death rather than unjustly put an innocent person to death. However, in family law it is the other way around. Thousands of law-abiding, innocent spouses are put to financial death while the other spouse gets off with a free meal ticket for life. Yet, no one protests on behalf of the adversely affected spouse.

An excellent article submitted to the media by one of our viewers indicates the profit motive of the court system. In reading this article, you need to be aware that Florida and other states lump all alimony and child support payments together. They are labeled as child support in representing them to the Federal Government in order to get their grant money. Read: Why Parenting Time Motions Fail and Child Support Motions Succeed.

MARRIAGE STRIKE: alimony laws are destroying the very fabric and building block of our society and nation
* More on the Marriage Strike by Wendy McElroy

* Three Dirty Words------First Amendment Rights

LEGAL INFORMATION AND RESEARCH CORNER:* BRB Publications, publisher of public records monographs, reference works and databases, merged the former Public Record Sources Web site into the Web site for BRB Publications and Facts on Demand Press. The link provided here takes you to the free resources. For the subscription-based databases, see the main site at

* No Way To Treat Our Soldiers
* Births To Unmarried U.S. Women Set Record seems to lend credence to the “marriage strike” in the country. Alimony laws are supporting the instances of co-habitation by couples wanting to avoid the financial problems for men caused by divorce and the loss of alimony income by women.
* NY Wants a Better No-fault Divorce Law

* Littlejohn v. Rose, 768 F. 2d 765, *6th Cir. (1985) - The case states that divorce is within the umbrella of the Right of Privacy. That means any statute written in that zone is privacy protected and presumptively unconstitutional. The only question remaining is: "Is there a compelling state interest for the alimony statute and is it minimally applied?"

Be sure to visit this site: