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Petition to end alimony in California begins signature collection

Secretary of State Alex Padilla approved a request by alimony reform activists to collect signatures for their petition. A software consultant from Orange County started the movement after going through a difficult divorce. He and his backers believe that the concept of spousal support is outdated. Designed primarily to support divorcing women in a time when females had few income opportunities, alimony is seen by the petitioners as no longer necessary.

The software consultant cited the fact that 47 percent of women have jobs now. He also believed that divorcing people sometimes demand spousal support as a punitive measure. He said he saw people in divorce court who were "clearly self-supporting" but still seeking alimony.

His alimony reform petition needs to submit 365,880 valid signatures from registered voters to the state by Nov. 2. If successful, the proposal will go on the November 2016 ballot. If voted into law, courts will no longer award alimony. Furthermore, existing alimony agreements that established payments for less than 10 years will be terminated. Established alimony payments scheduled to last over 10 years will be eliminated by 20 percent per year over five years.

Whether this petition succeeds or not, it reveals growing societal concerns about the fairness of spousal support. An attorney might be able to help a person resist high alimony requests during divorce negotiations. A person could also work with an attorney to revise an existing alimony agreement by filing a post-divorce modification request with a court. Changes in circumstances that could influence alimony include children growing up or a rise in the income of the alimony recipient.

Source:, "Signature gathering approved for initiative to end alimony," Debbie Sklar, May 8, 2015

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