Huntington Beach Man Looks to Reform California Alimony Laws

One Huntington Beach man, Steve Clark, a software engineer, has labelled California’s open- ended alimony laws as “outdated” and a form of “legal extortion”. The average cost of divorce in the United States in 2019 is estimated to be $15,000 per person.
This is a staggering amount of money for the average American to pay out.

There is nothing more divisive between separated couples than alimony. The cost of alimonyitself can far outstrip the cost of the initial divorce. Often, it is what causes the most strain on relationships post-divorce.

Clark’s main gripe with current California legislation stems from Open-Ended Alimony. Terming it “a vestige of the ‘50’s”, when few women worked outside the home, Clark argues that an individual should not have to support their spouse indefinitely, once the relationship has ended. The “horror stories,” Clark insists, are preventing people from getting married because of these
potential, life-long financial obligations.

Under state law, Californians may receive alimony for a “reasonable period of time” which typically spans to half the length of the marriage itself. However, for marriages that exceed 10 years, judges can opt to leave an end date open-ended.
In effect, this can mean indefinite payments of spousal support – a lifelong financial obligation.

Since the end of his 24 year-long marriage in 2015, Clark has been proactive in trying to enact the “Elimination of Open Ended Alimony”, setting up a reform initiative as a result. Four years ago he had failed to gain enough signatures to have his grievance placed on the California Ballot. 5% of Californians – or over 620,000 signatures – are required for this issue to be passed through to the upcoming 2020 Ballot.

Clark faces an uphill struggle to gain enough interest in his cause. He states that many men would be reluctant to sign the petition in the presence of their wives. He argues that women too, can equally be affected by open-ended alimony payments. Citing the greater numbers of women in the workplace, alimony laws can affect both genders equally. For Clark, it is a kind of “social welfare” that will always go against the higher earner in the relationship. “Imagine if you had a cheating husband and then had to pay him alimony,” Clark asserts, claiming it to be an “insult”.

With his ex-wife now working full-time in a role that can earn her up to $100,000 per year, after taking years out of work to care for their children, he argued that current alimony laws prevent people from being held accountable for their own investment decisions. Whilst Clark will find some supporters, there are plenty of counter-arguments he will come up
against.

Dana Heyde, a Family Law Attorney, agrees that alimony should not remain unchanged indefinitely over time. However, she caveats this by saying there are plenty of pre-existing ways to amend alimony payments. Heyde also states that an “arbitrary time limit” on alimony would undermine the purpose of alimony in the first place. “Alimony is based on need,” she states, whilst also pointing out that childcare still falls mostly on the mother’s shoulders. Men benefit from this investment decision too, so alimony could be seen as a kind of reimbursement for years of childcare.

Steve Clark has until Feb. 3, 2020 to reach his get his cause registered for the 2020 California
Ballot. Until then, there is still a great amount of work to do. 

If you require divorce assistance, contact Kenneth Flood Law Today  Tel 24 hours a day: 760-327-844

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