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Ayo & Iken Report – April 5th, 2019

by Tom Lemons, Legal Correspondent

Tom Lemons:

Hi, I’m Tom Lemons,  Host of the Ayo & Iken Report. A new series on family law issues around the state of Florida.

Tom Lemons:

Spring is here and legislators in Tallahassee are turning up the heat on alimony reform, equal child custody and other family law issues.

Tom Lemons:

Anyone who’s experienced a contentious divorce, knows that the rules aren’t always black and white. And sometimes, the outcome isn’t quite what you expected.

Tom Lemons:

In March of this year, Republicans in both the House and Senate filed separate alimony reform bills that are currently making their way through various legislative committees.

Tom Lemons:

Ayo & Iken attorney, Howard Ellzey, understands the challenges of divorce, and the vast inconsistencies of an alimony claim.

Howard Ellzey:

What the courts look at when they award alimony, other than the length of the marriage, is going to be the need of one party versus the ability to pay of the other party.

Howard Ellzey:

Generally in alimony, one of the parties feels like they’re just automatically entitled to it. And the other party automatically feels like they shouldn’t have to pay it.

Howard Ellzey:

For example, very recently I had a situation where the mom has been a stay-at-home mom during the course of a somewhat longterm marriage. Intermediate-term marriage. And the expectation was that the father is going to get a pretty good alimony obligation and the mother has the expectation that she’s going to get that money from the father and from the husband.

Howard Ellzey:

Mom has some parents who are pretty wealthy. The mother has been having all of her expenses paid by the mom and dad. During the course of her deposition, we review her financial affidavit.

Howard Ellzey:

“Okay, who pays your rent?” “Mom and dad.” “Who pays your utilities?” “Mom and dad.” “Who pays your phone bill?” “Mom and dad.” Line item by line item by line item.

Howard Ellzey:

What’s that going to mean then at the end of the day is that Mom really doesn’t have a need for that alimony. Well, there’s a tendency in the law now to agree.

Howard Ellzey:

There’s been a couple of cases recently that says that “Hey, family gifts received from the parents, for example, can be considered in determining whether a party has a need for alimony.” I’m confident that we’re going to get into that situation with a good argument against my unemployed father being required to pay alimony to the stay-at-home mom with the rich mom and dad.

Howard Ellzey:

It’s going to be hard for the legislature to quantify the specific examples of where the boundaries should be, how much, what’s considered longterm and recurring and what’s not.

Howard Ellzey:

It’s going to be a case by case analysis and the courts are going to look at the totality of circumstances. There are a couple of cases recently that have considered those factors and have made decisions.

Howard Ellzey:

We have some decisions that fall one side and some decisions that fall on the other, as to whether those gifts should be considered. It’s going to be, I guarantee you, impossible for the legislature to define every fact and circumstances where those lines should be drawn.

Tom Lemons:

We’ll continue to follow alimony reform and discuss other family law issues in upcoming episodes of the Ayo & Iken Report. Thanks for joining us.

Update:  While we were producing this report the alimony bill apparently failed to advance in a required legislative committee.  That effectively kills the bill for 2019.  We will continue to cover this subject.

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Over the past 14 years Ayo & Iken has helped over 5,000 people just like you