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April 11, 2016 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

Another day, another screed against Florida SB 668 that’s so blatantly untrue and self-serving that it would be unbelievable if we didn’t see similar things so often. This one’s by Heather Quick and constitutes a new low (Palm Beach Post, 4/10/16).

Who’s Heather Quick? She’s a member of the Family Law Section of the Florida Bar, a fact that tells us all we need to know about her motivations in opposing reasonable alimony reform and shared parenting. Like so many family lawyers, Quick earns her money on the bitterness and conflict that arise during child support litigation. Unsurprisingly, she wants that conflict and the fees that come with it to continue.

But I don’t want to be too harsh on her. After all, she thoughtfully appended her photograph to her article to make the above point better than I ever could. In the photo, she’s positively dripping in gemstones. The whole effect fairly screams “Moneyed elite!” And that of course is precisely what she is. We won’t see her struggling to make ends meet while her ex pockets unconscionable sums from her hard work. No, she’s as well-heeled as they come and intends to stay that way.

So, thanks for the photo Ms. Quick. It rebuts everything you say in one easy glance.

And what does she actually say about SB 668? Nothing but the usual untruths and desperate ploys.

The alimony portion of the bill?

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 96% of alimony recipients are women. These women have worked hard to raise their families so that their husbands could go out and earn a higher wage.

As I’ve said before, if the only issue the FLS has with SB 668 is stay-at-home parents, then why not propose an amendment to the bill limiting alimony to spouses who’ve done that? The FLS consists of lawyers and they hire lobbyists every legislative session. Surely they could come up with the appropriate language in the blink of an eye. But they didn’t. For that matter, they could have proposed their own bill doing so. But they didn’t do that either. No, Ms. Quick and the FLS watched as SB 668 passed both houses of the legislature and even helped with some of the language in it, without so much as a peep about stay-at-home parents.

That’s of course because, were the bill to limit alimony to only those parents, far, far fewer women would receive it than currently do. The argument is a red herring, pure and simple.

Now, after years of marriage, the court system is going to tell women they were not equal partners in the marriage and do not deserve a portion of their husband’s income.

There’s not a word of that statement that’s true. Ms. Quick isn’t just playing fast and loose with the facts, she’s lying. First, the bill isn’t retroactive, so all exes currently receiving alimony will continue to do so as before.

But more obviously, Quick actually pretends that SB 668 abolishes alimony. Of course it doesn’t, but how else could she claim that the bill would prohibit an ex-wife from receiving “a portion of her husband’s income?” Needless to say, women who divorce their husbands will continue to be awarded alimony as long as they’ve earned less than their husbands. SB 668 prohibits permanent alimony and sets up guidelines for judges to use to make alimony awards more predictable.

Then there’s the fact that every stay-at-home mom has, at the moment of divorce, already received a large “portion of her husband’s income.” The money he worked for and earned paid for the roof over her head, the food she ate, the electricity that kept her warm in the winter and cool in the summer, her doctor bills, her insurance, her car, etc. It’s long been one of the more preposterous of feminist claims that, in some way, childcare is unpaid work. It’s not.

Quick of course knows this perfectly well, but, lacking any real arguments with which to oppose the bill, she makes up unreal ones. And she’s not done, not by a long shot.

Let’s get real. Though marriages are supposed to be 50/50, reality is more like 80/20. Women are the caregivers, homemakers, chauffeurs, accountants, etc.

That’s what she calls getting “real?” No, “real” is what scrupulously-collected data demonstrate, data like the kind kept by the Bureau of Labor Statistics here. That demonstrates that Quick’s “80/20” is more like 60/40. Women spend about one hour per day more than men doing household chores and childcare. And of course, when time spent on paid and unpaid work are combined, men and women spend almost identical amounts of time working for their families. But of course Quick isn’t interested in the reality of the situation, only made-up figures with which to adorn her threadbare claims.

So far her piece has been a tissue of lies, half-truths and statements designed to mislead readers. But then she gets into frank, open lying.

Proponents of the bill have added terminology calling for a 50/50 time share split…

Regardless of if a child is more bonded with one parent over another, or if one parent works longer hours, or if the parent has emotional or substance abuse issues – there will be an equal split of time sharing should the bill pass.

That. Is. Not. True. Heather Quick is lying. She knows perfectly well that the 50/50 parenting time provision is only a premise and that judges will still have 20 different statutorily-mandated considerations to apply to every custody case. Those can and will alter parenting time orders away from 50/50 all the way to 0/100 in some instances.

(By the way, someone might want to tell Quick that the bill has passed. Her phrase “should the bill pass” bespeaks either profound ignorance or just plain sloppiness. Who knows which it is, but whatever the case, it’s all of a piece with the rest of her slipshod and dishonest article.)

Finally, Quick just starts throwing out claims in the hope that one might stick.

The kids should have a say in whom they want to live with.

They do now and they will if SB 668 becomes law. When Florida kids reach a certain age and level of maturity, they can express their wishes to the judge in their parents’ divorce case. Nothing in SB 668 changes that. Again, Quick knows these things perfectly well, but has nothing real with which to oppose the bill so she goes with blatant misrepresentations.

And [the custodial parent] should be able to afford [the children’s] clothing, food and activities.

What, pray tell, is there in SB 668 that would prevent either parent from being able to provide “clothing, food and activities” to their children? Does it require a cessation of child support? Of course not. What it does do, however, is provide custodial parents, mostly mothers, far more time than they currently have to work and earn.

As I’ve said before, mothers on average receive about $3,700 per year in child support on average. Fathers receive significantly less. Anyone with the type of extra time that SB 668 can provide to mothers will easily be able to earn far more than that. So in fact, SB 668 will be good for women’s pocketbooks.

Lawyers like Quick love the status quo. Just look at that necklace she’s wearing and you immediately know why. Anyone with a shred of decency would be ashamed to have written this piece. But for some, money trumps not only the welfare of children, but personal integrity.

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National Parents Organization is a non-profit that educates the public, families, educators, and legislators about the importance of shared parenting and how it can reduce conflict in children, parents, and extended families. Along with Shared Parenting we advocate for fair Child Support and Alimony Legislation. Want to get involved?  Here’s how:

Together, we can drive home the family, child development, social and national benefits of shared parenting, and fair child support and alimony. Thank you for your activism.

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