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Ex-husband challenges alimony payments to trans wife

Ian Dunt March 28, 2007
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Lawyers representing a man from Florida have argued that he should not have to continue paying alimony to his ex-wife because she has become a man.

They said that he agreed to pay alimony to the woman he divorced, not the man she became after sex reassignment surgery.

Lawrence Roach divorced his wife Julia in 2004, after 18 years of marriage.

The 48-year-old agreed to pay her $1,250 a month in alimony. Since then, Julia has undergone a sex change and changed her name to Julio Roberto Silverwolf.

Silverwolf did not appear in court yesterday. His lawyer, Gregory Nevins, says Roach agreed to pay alimony until his ex-wife dies or remarries.

“Those two things haven’t happened,” he said, according to AP.

Circuit Judge Jack R. St. Arnold is considering the arguments, but lawyers on both sides agree that Roach will probably have to continue paying alimony.

The judge noted that appeals courts have declined to legally recognise a sex change in Florida when it comes to marriage.

The appellate court “is telling us you are what you are when you are born,” he said.

But Roach’s attorney, John McGuire, still believes there is a case.

According to AP, he claims: “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.

“When she changed to a man, I believe she terminated that alimony.”

Roach’s other attorney, John Smitten, believes the case is in a legal void.

“It’s probably something that needs to be addressed by the Legislature,” he said.

“There is one other case in the entire United States. It really needs to be addressed either for or against the concept of eliminating alimony for that reason.”

The judge agreed that the case steps into barely chartered legal territory. There is only one similar case in US legal history.

In 2004, an Ohio appeals court ruled that a Montgomery County man must continue to pay his transgender ex-wife $750 a month in alimony because her sex change was not sufficient reason to terminate the agreement.

The court drama is the second trans-rights showdown in Pinellas County in less than a week.

Last Friday, trans-rights activists packed out a City Commission meeting in neighbouring Largo to oppose the firing of Steve Stanton, a City Manager who recently announced plans to live as a woman.

Despite the support, commissioners still voted 5-2 against Stanton.

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