I have a story that needs to be told. There are countless other men out there with similar situations and stories that need to be told. The laws need to be changed to prevent this injustice.
I served my country honorably for thirty years and I am now retired. I have served in some of the most god awful places on this earth in living conditions worse than most prisons.
I was married and I had one child during this time. I had to spend a lot of time away from home but I always made sure that my wife and child had everything that they needed; new homes, new cars and whatever they needed and much more. The majority of the time I took not more $100.00 a month for necessities and personal items while sending the remainder home for them. I not only served my country but I gave up everything in the support of my family.
Seven years after my retirement, with my daughter graduated from college all grown up and out in the world, I could no longer live with my wife who had become increasingly abusive and violent. I told her that I wanted a divorce. She became more violent to the point where I came home one day and she pulled a loaded gun and tried to shoot me. She squeezed the trigger numerous times and the only thing that prevented the gun from firing was that she had forgotten about the safety. I disarmed her, hid the gun in the garage and left the house. My daughter who lived in another state called me crying saying that her mother had called her and was threatening to commit suicide and she wanted me to get her to a hospital to get some help. She also called the police who met me at the house. I turned the gun over to the police who had only been told that she had threatening to commit suicide. She was Baker Acted and taken to a Mental Health Facility for evaluation and was released 48 hours later, not the standard required 72 hours, to my daughter for outpatient treatment. She was diagnosed as being Bipolar. I immediately filed for an injunction for my safety because she had made a statement that next time she would get it right and finish the job.
Seventeen months later and thousands of dollars out of my pocket the divorce was final and she walked away with half of my military retirement, $1,500.00 a month in alimony, lifetime medical insurance and 2/3rd of the investments that she had never put a penny into while I ended up with the house to sell and split the profit 50/50 with her, her legal fees and the majority of the other debt. Even though it was a bitter pill to swallow I moved on. I had a defense contract job that paid a pretty decent salary. I had the house that due to the economy wasn’t worth what I owed on it so I was stuck with it.
Not long after the divorce I married a wonderful woman with two wonderful children that I met while attending meetings at a spousal abuse help group. We have now been married for over two years and are very happy.
In February of 2012 I was notified by my employer, as were others within the company, that I was being laid off. I received 30 days severance pay and well wishes. Since that time about 5 months now I have been working feverously to obtain new employment. My wife and I have been struggling to make ends meet burning through what savings we had. I sold a car, motorcycle, tools and a whole house full of furniture to hire a lawyer and pay bills. I notified my ex-wife through the courts that I was going to be unable to make my alimony payments because I had lost my job. Of course my ex-wife in her typical fashion of “kicking a person while they are down” immediately had her lawyer file all of the contempt paperwork to make my life even more stressful.
My ex-wife has been living in a house with a guy for almost two years supposedly for free rent and utilities in exchange for house cleaning and personal assistant services, aka “supportive relationship”. She claims that without the alimony she can’t support herself but can’t show bills that exceed even the amount of money that she still receives in her half of my monthly retirement.
I attended the court recommended mediation today only to be told that only my portion of my current debit (25%) can be considered for the purpose of calculating my current ability to pay my ex-wife’s alimony. Of course these calculations show that I have excess income and should be able to pay the alimony. When in the real world I have been going to charitable organizations to get money to pay all of my existing monthly debits. I was told that I should not pay my monthly credit card bills, that I was saddled with as part of the divorce, in order to pay my ex-wife her alimony. I was told that I should turn over my remaining third ($14,000.00 IRAs) of my retirement investments to pay the back alimony to my ex-wife. Oh I forgot to tell you that I had to short-sale my house because I can’t make the payments and I can’t sell it for what I owe on it, it is upside down. I have been trying to sell it for over two years. I am now living in a rental house.
So help me understand this, I am going to be held in contempt of court because I am unable to find a job in this economy. That is a real crime! I am being told that my just debts with my wife and children can’t be used to calculate my ability to pay alimony. I am being forced to pay alimony to a woman who tried to kill me. What is fair about this? Nothing absolutely nothing!
I am turning 60 years old in November. I am not in the greatest of health and this stress as you can imagine isn’t helping. When am I going to be able to retire? Is it 60, 65, 68 or never? Will I have to work until I die to pay my ex-wife alimony? I am being punished because I worked hard all my life and made a career that allowed me to make a good life for my family. My ex-wife had the very same opportunity. She had every opportunity to go to college and make a career for herself but she chose not to. I even took a break in my college classes to take a few classes with her to get her started but she quit after the second class. So punish me because she was a quitter.
During my job searches I was told that I had to stay current on technology critical to my field of expertise so at almost 60 years of age I have applied for and received a grant to attend Project Management Professional training to prepare me to take the PMP Certification test while still spending every waking minute searching and applying for a new job.
I have been told that the Florida law states the reason I have to pay alimony on top of giving my ex-wife half of my retirement is so that she can continue to live the life style that she was accustom to. So again I am being punished because I provided my wife with a very comfort life for 35 years. These laws are unjust and are punishing me because I was a good husband and provider for 35 years. What about the life style that I was accustom to living does that matter at all to the courts? What is fair about the impact these laws are having on my wife and children. I just don’t have the money to fight this in court.