S/he

Another headline that says it all: Judge: Ex still due alimony when she becomes he. My first thought is that of course the husband still owes alimony, which is (or should be) a support obligation arising during marriage that reflects the paying spouse’s status as primary earner during the marriage. His ex-wife is still his ex-wife. The operation is not retroactive.

5 thoughts on “S/he”

  1. After reading this article my immediate response was that I found the situation to be ironically comical. I find it very interesting that a person with the desire to change ones name, sex, public sexual orientation, and essentially their life as the public views it, expects or even still desires financial support from their former spouse, who essentially represents their past life as a woman. Speaking as someone who does not claim to begin to understand the desire to be anything but the sex I was born as, I feel that to go through the process of changing ones name and sex you are essentially changing who you are, and therefore any past relationship with a man, when you were assumed to want to be a woman and be attracted to men, would be null.

    While considering this response to the person receiving the alimony, I must admit that my feminist side, which assumes more fault to the male party in a relationship that has soured, loved the ironic situation that the ex-husband was now paying alimony to a fellow man. Obviously when considering this particular situation however, I am sure that the fact that the woman was not truly attracted to men or even desired to be a woman, caused greater stress to the marriage than any normal battle of the sexes.

    What struck me most about this article however was the conversation I had with my male roommate immediately following my reading of this article. What troubled me was that the discussion did not surround the fact that alimony was being awarded between two men, but brought into question the practice of alimony in general. His view was that since woman desire to be treated equally in all other aspects of life, isn’t the practice of alimony allowing for there to always be one primary bread-winner in a relationship. Now obviously alimony can be awarded to the male after a divorce, and I also pointed out that if one party decides to raise a family and take care of the home for years and is then forced to support themselves financially, they are at a serious disadvantage to the competition also trying to make it in industry. But what happens when raising a family isn’t involved, merely one party was much better off? Is it fair to say that because you were used to fine-dining and vacationing at 5-star resorts for X number of years that you have the right to do so for the rest of your life at your former spouse’s expense?

    When considering this view with the article in question, the alimony being awarded is essentially paying for the wife’s sex change operation. An operation that is not medically needed, and if one can afford to pay for a sex change operation on their own, it can be assumed that are not in need of the financial support from someone else.

  2. When I read the article, my first response was that the husband still owes alimony because at the time the divorce agreement was formed (2004), the two parties legally agreed that he would pay his ex-spouse alimony. While she may be physically different now, she still is the same person who took part in the agreement back in 2004. Therefore, she/he is still entitled to her/his rights under the contract.

    Moreover, if the situation were switched (i.e. the husband changed his sex rather than the ex-spouse) and the ex-spouse was indeed in need of the alimony, should the husband then be excused from paying it? If so, any person owing alimony could just move to a state like Florida and avoid paying it. Such policy would counteract the purpose of alimony. I think this reason explains why the judge ruled to enforce the divorce agreement.

    However, andisuj, you make a strong argument about ex-spouses using alimony to pay for luxuries. The law should probably be more restrictive in awarding alimony or find a way to ensure that the money is reasonably spent.

  3. I think that Lawrence Roach’s attorney’s argument, that “it’s illegal for a man to marry a man and it should likewise be illegal for a man to pay alimony to a man, does not apply to this situation. At the time when Roach and his wife were married and had children, his wife was still a woman. Since his wife’s sex-change was after the fact, Roach cannot simply avoid paying alimony. Circuit Judge Jack R. St. Arnold is right in that Roach wife’s sex change has little to do with the law. His wife is no longer a woman, but that does not free him from his 1,250/month alimony obligation. If Florida courts claim that sex changes cannot legally change one’s gender, than Roach is still legally paying alimony to his wife. So, there are two arguments against Roach’s case: (1) At the time he and his wife were married and had children, his wife was still a woman; (2) Legally, his wife is still a woman according to the court rulings in Florida.

  4. In my opinion Roach should continue to pay the alimony. Regardless of the gender change, the ex-husband should be required to continue the payments to his ex-wife. If Julia wished to become Julio it is a personal choice that does not change the fact the the the two were previously in a marriage and after the divorce Roach is required to pay alimony to his ex. Although, I think that a person should be considered a new gender if a sex changing surgery is undergone, in this case Florida’s refusal to accept this only provides more evidence as to the continuation of payments. At the current time, there is no stipulation as to the gender of the recipient for alimony and I believe that with more and more states allowing same sex marriages the payments should be required regardless of gender. I am curious to see how future cases resolve the issue.

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