TAVARAS, Fla., Jan 15, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE via COMTEX) --
In 2005, Donna Policastro, 59, divorced her husband of 18 years. Six years later, she married her current husband Dennis Policastro, 66. Donna never sought alimony and has always supported herself.
Dennis, on the other hand, was paying $800 a month in alimony to his ex-wife. Late last year, he was forced to retire due to deteriorating eyesight. He also reached the federal retirement age. His ex-wife, meantime, has chosen to work only part-time, even though she is just 54-years old-and has no disability. The court acknowledged that because of her excessive spending "the former wife is on the road to destitution. She has a staggering monthly deficit."
Despite a significant reduction in his income, a judge has ordered Dennis Policastro to continue to pay more in alimony than he has in income. As a result, the court has gone after Donna Policastro's income noting that it should be considered when calculating her husband's alimony obligations: "The court is not satisfied that the former husband has proven that his retirement has rendered him unable to meet any degree of alimony obligation."
The Policastro's story is not unique," said Debbie Leff Israel, founder of the Second Wives Club, a subgroup of Florida Alimony Reform, a grassroots organization seeking changes to the state's outdated alimony laws. "The current Mrs. Policastro must continue to work full time to support herself and now to finance the alimony payments to the ex-wife that her husband could not afford if he were not remarried. This case illuminates continued problems in the law with regard to paying alimony into retirement, the use of the second wife's income," adds Leff Israel.
Despite claims from the Florida Bar Family Law Section that second spouse's incomes cannot be considered a basis for an upward modification of alimony for the first wife, Florida Alimony Reform sees judges consider family income when calculating an upward modification for a former spouse.
Florida Alimony Reform is seeking the following changes to existing laws:
Removal of permanent alimony from current statutes
The need for alimony payers to have the right to retire at Federal Retirement Age or standard retirement age for high risk professions
A defined amount on a formula that is fair, and that averages income for both spouses
Second spouses' income shall not be used to calculate an upward modification of alimony
The right to modify a current judgment
Make the law retroactive so that those saddled with alimony payments can get payments modified to comply with the new law.
Alimony payment for mid-term and long-term marriages should be set at 50 percent the length of the marriage as the default duration.
During the upcoming Florida legislative session two bills will be introduced: One by Rep. Ritch Workman (R-Melbourne) and the other by Sen. Kelli Stargel (R-Lakeland) seeking to reform the state's existing laws.
"While we agree that the law should provide relief if one spouse has been out of the workforce for many years and the marriage ends in divorce, we do not believe that a spouse should be inextricably and financially tied to the other until death do they part," said Alan Frisher, co-director and spokesman for Florida Alimony Reform.