An Orange County software consultant said his divorce prompted him to write an initiative that would end alimony.
“I was able to experience first-hand the many pitfalls associated with the process,” said Steve Clark, executive director of the Huntington Beach- based CalAlimonyReform.org.
“The amount of time and money coupled with the emotional stress was more than I could have ever anticipated,” Clark said Thursday.
Backers of the initiative received permission this week from Secretary of State Alex Padilla to begin gathering signatures. The group has until Nov. 2 to obtain valid signatures from 365,880 registered voters — 5 percent of the total votes cast for governor in the 2014 general election — to qualify the measure for the November 2016 ballot.
If approved by voters, the initiative would end a court’s ability to award and enforce alimony, also known as spousal support, during marriage, upon legal separation, divorce or annulment.
Existing spousal support awards of less than 10 years would be terminated, unless a court grants an extension of up to one year.
Existing spousal support awards greater than 10 years would be reduced to zero at a rate of 20 percent per year over a five-year period.
The initiative would result in increased state court costs not likely to exceed the low tens of millions of dollars annually over the next few years related to petitions to terminate existing spousal support orders, according to an estimate prepared by the Legislative Analyst’s Office and Department of Finance.
Clark told City News Service voters should sign his initiative because “the concept of alimony is outdated,” stemming from a time when few women worked outside the home.
“With approximately 47 percent of women in the U.S. labor force, alimony reform should no longer be thought of as a gender issue,” Clark said. “Today there are plenty of women in society who have higher incomes than the husbands.”
Other reasons Clark cited to support the initiative include alimony being used as a “retaliatory tactic.”
“Having spent countless hours in divorce court, I would often listen to other cases that preceded mine and hear a person who is clearly self- supporting demanding alimony,” Clark said.
An “unintended consequence” of alimony is that “it harms children both financially and emotionally,” Clark said.
“In many cases, such as mine, the pain associated with a long drawn-out divorce trickles down to the children and money that could have been directed to them for support and education is being wasted on lawyers,” Clark said.
—City News Service
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