As a permanent alimony payor, I am hopeful that HB843/SB1832 will pass this legislative session. I married at a young age to a man who had a poor work ethic and during the 22 years of marriage, I worked two jobs in addition to my role as the head of the household and mother to our three children. I worked my way through nursing school so that I could provide for our children because it became apparent that my ex was not reliable. He could never hold a stable job, even within his own family’s business. Instead, he frequently utilized the ‘system’ by filing for unemployment.
It must be understood that at no time did I enter into an agreement with my spouse that I would be the sole breadwinner and that he could be the “stay-at-home dad.” Additionally, my ex engaged in activities outside of the marriage and, once confronted, moved 2 states away, leaving me and the children to fend for ourselves. This is not a stable individual and I had a responsibility as a parent to see that my children were no longer exposed to this type of behavior.
I filed for divorce knowing that my children deserved better. My spouse abandoned our home again and emptied our bank accounts, leaving myself and our kids to fend for ourselves. Despite this, I continued to do what was right by my children and make sure we survived. Luckily, I have some outstanding parents and a loving church, who made sure our needs were met.
Divorce is hard regardless of how it comes about. I attempted to do the right thing by my marriage through marital counseling. My ex was not committed and instead enjoyed extending his abuse through the legal system during our divorce by extracting the finite resources from my household to benefit his own. My ex has a bachelor’s degree, a degree more advanced than mine, but in court was awarded permanent alimony amounting to half of my pay because I was the primary breadwinner and we were married for 22 years.
As I noted before, divorce is hard. It’s hard on all parties involved no matter what the circumstances are. Frankly, I would have never imagined the hardship I was about to endure and if I would have known I may have not proceeded with the divorce despite the abuse. It is devastating to think that no matter what advances I make as an individual in my own career, I will not realize a better standard of living much less be able to retire because I am stuck paying permanent alimony. Some argue that I could simply go back to court to get my settlement modified, but anyone who has gone through this process knows that modification is an expensive option that gives no guarantees.
It is clear that Florida’s alimony laws are broken. It is my hope that reform will become a reality through the passage of HB 843/SB 1832.
Latrice Collison resides in Edgewater, Florida.