Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Should a Sex Change Terminate Alimony Award

Living in the 21st century brings about new and difficult problems in the area of family law. There are questions over who gets frozen embryos in divorce, gay adoption, and other issues which were unheard of even 20 years ago. A new issue has arisen in Clearwater, Florida concerning whether or not a man's obligation to pay alimony continues after his ex-wife receives a sex change operation and legally becomes a man. The ex-husband's argument is that Florida does not recognize a man marrying a man, so there cannot be a situation where a man is Ordered to pay alimony to a man. The ex-wife's argument is that the Court Order stated that he should have to pay alimony until her death or remarriage, neither of which have happened. Both arguments are compelling, however, I think that in some senses, the "ex-wife" has died. She no longer exists on paper, and if someone no longer exists, they cannot receive alimony. While her physical presence is still there, she is not there in the legal sense, and that is what should be determinative when deciding whether an alimony award should continue. I'm not sure whether the legislature will touch this topic or whether it will get all the way to the Supreme Court of Florida. This is just another example of the impact that technology has on current family law issues.

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