Author’s note from Attorney Howard Iken: The article tells a humorous story of lawmakers passing a new alimony reform law that was meant to be just and correct but ended up being so poorly written that no one could agree on what it actually meant. After years of arguing, everyone agreed that new laws are always flawed and no new law can have a common sense, understandable, and universal meaning, leading to the realization that a brand new law was needed.
Once upon a time in a far, far away land our wise and knowledgeable lawmakers gathered together to discuss a horrible and oppressive alimony problem. Many different people from the kingdom gathered to discuss the various evils and merits of the then-existing alimony laws. There were the commoners that labored under the injustice of alimony judgments. There were intellectuals that casually bantered about fine points of society and how alimony affected humanity. And louder than others, there were lawyers and politicians that promised they would swiftly eliminate the alimony problem, to the benefit of all men, women, and children.
There was much talk, some shouting, and finally a chorus of agreement on what exactly needed to be changed. After many people from every walk of life discussed the problem and potential solutions, a new alimony reform law was passed. That new law would apply common sense, give people guidance, correct previous problems, and prevent future problems. And because so many smart and varied people had a hand in the new law, it had to be just, even-handed, and correct. There was a collective sound of satisfaction from all with a comforting feeling the alimony problem was solved forever.
With great fanfare the new alimony law was introduced, was approved by the masses and then signed by the king. After the law was passed, there were rumors throughout the land on what it contained. Some people got an explanation from friends, some from news reports, while others got a quick explanation from legal scholars. But it seemed that everyone had a different idea of what was contained in the new alimony law. Each new person that read the new law gained a completely different understanding of what it would do for them.
As it turned out – no one really clearly understood the new alimony law. And with an ironic twist, the people that wrote the proposed alimony law muttered about loopholes, gaps, and miscommunication caused by the “others.” The population yearned for a clear understanding of just what the new alimony law contained. That yearning resulted in the law being brought before the wisdom of the courts. The first time the new law was discussed in court, the judge seemed surprised, skeptical, and suspicious. The judge looked askew at the new law and rather thought it was no more than a rumor. One or both of the attorneys attending court proudly gave the judge a copy of the new law – which educated the judge and also displayed the legal prowess and great ability of the lucky attorney that knew about the law. Sometimes attorneys went to court without knowledge of the new law because many of them were overworked and had little time for sifting through the content of new laws. But little by little, news of the new Florida alimony law was spread throughout the land.
As the months and years passed by it because painfully obvious the new alimony law had some serious problems. That problem caused frustration far and wide. It turned out that no two attorneys and no two judges seemed to agree on the exact definition of the words in the new law. “That’s ridiculous!” someone said. The new law has no big words, it was written by the most intelligent people in the land, and “THEY” must have known what they were doing. Then someone made a common sense suggestion: “Why don’t we just read the new law? The meaning would then be obvious.” A crowd of people formed nodding and murmuring agreement with that common sense suggestion.
A variety of people far and wide pulled out a copy of the new law, now several years old. Some people said the law applied only to people with the color of Red. Some said Pink. Others said it was more of a shade of Rust. Other people looked at things differently. They argued whether the law applied equally to Tall and Short people. Then, an even bigger argument broke out on the meaning of the word Short. The lawyers applied their considerable experience and education to those fine points of the new law. Some said the letter “S” at the end of one of the words indicated the law only applied to situations in the plural. Other lawyers said that does not have any real meaning. The lawyers even argued on whether the new law applies to new situations, old situations, everyone’s situations, or no situation at all. The new law that was originally crystal clear and incredibly helpful had now become a source of arguing and bickering. The collective citizens of the kingdom slowly realized that no law is crystal clear and that new laws are even less predictable.
After years and years of arguing, all the judges, all the attorneys, and most people came to a common agreement about the new law. They all agreed that every time the new law was brought to court, we would all completely disagree on the exact meaning. Ironically the realization that all new laws are flawed brought a sense of calmness to the kingdom.
Peace finally descended on the land. Because all the learned, all the wise ones, and all the decision-makers finally settled on one common principle: that the new law was exactly like all previous laws, and no new law could ever be crafted that had a common sense, understandable, and universal meaning.
Now that everyone understood the exact nature of new laws, peace prevailed through most of the realm. But during that long reign of peace, the population soon realized something important was missing. They realized there was an alimony law without a clear meaning and common understanding. And the solution was clear – a brand new law was needed.
And once again in a far, far away land our wise and knowledgeable lawmakers gathered together to discuss a horrible and oppressive alimony problem ….