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Ex-her might be him, but alimony same

Published March 29, 2007


In a mixed ruling for Florida's transgendered community, a state circuit judge Wednesday dismissed a Seminole man's request to halt alimony payments because his ex-wife had a sex change.

Judge Jack R. St. Arnold knocked down both of Lawrence Roach's arguments: that he shouldn't have to pay alimony because his ex-wife is now a man and therefore legally dead and the argument that it is illegal for a man to pay alimony to a man because Florida does not recognize same-sex marriage.

St. Arnold protected the alimony rights of Roach's ex-wife, Julia Roach, who has transitioned to a man named Julio Roberto Silverwolf, 55. Roach, 48, will have to continue his monthly $1,250 payments.

But citing prior case law, St. Arnold wrote in his ruling that, "Despite the surgery and the fact that the Respondent holds herself out to be a male, Florida recognizes the immutable female traits determined at birth."

One of Silverwolf's attorneys, Greg Nevins, said he was pleased with the judge's ruling. But the senior staff attorney with gay and transgender rights group Lambda Legal, said he didn't agree with the statement that Silverwolf should be regarded legally as a female.

Lawrence Roach and Julia Roach were married for 18 years before their divorce in 2004.

Roach did not return calls for comment, and his attorney, John Smitten, said he would not comment because he hadn't reviewed the judge's ruling.

In Pinellas County court Tuesday, Silverwolf's attorneys argued the alimony can be altered only under the terms of the former couple's settlement agreement: either party's death or that Silverwolf remarries.

St. Arnold wrote in his ruling that there is no physical evidence that Silverwolf is dead. And he said the former couple's settlement agreement stands because gender reassignment surgery was not listed as one of the circumstances under which it could be modified.

[Last modified March 29, 2007, 01:24:14]

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