In the latest fusillade in a bitter divorce case now in its fourth year, prominent Tampa attorney Jonathan Alpert has complained that his ex-wife is humiliating him and "burning through cash" by paying to display herself in scanty attire on the Internet.
In a motion to reduce his $11,892-a-month alimony payments, Alpert says he should not be subjected to "shame, abuse and harassment" so that his ex-wife, Elizabeth L. "Liz" Alpert, can advertise herself on the Internet "in scanty clothes" to attract suitors for dancing, tennis and other dating activities.
Jonathan Alpert's reference is to personal ads on Internet dating services Match.com and jdate.com. On the Web pages, Liz Alpert is pictured in evening and sports clothing and in a French maid's outfit she once donned for Halloween. Liz Alpert says the "burning up" of cash on the personal ads amounted to a total of about $39.95 a month.
"What's so horrible?" Liz Alpert said of her ads with the dating services. "It's inexpensive. It's a way to meet people without having to go to a bar.
"What this is really about is Jonathan trying to smear me as much as he can because he can't get over his anger about this divorce."
Married 23 years, the Alperts have fought over money since a final decree was issued in their divorce in January 2003. Jonathan Alpert has appealed that judgment.
A judge ruled then that alimony should be based on $400,000-a-year income for Jonathan Alpert, a litigator who has made a name for himself with high-profile suits against banks, brokerage houses and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
But Jonathan Alpert, 58, a one-time candidate for Hillsborough County state attorney, has claimed his multiple sclerosis has worsened because of the stress of his marriage's breakup, and his earning power has diminished.
Liz Alpert, 54, a former candidate for Tampa City Council and the Florida Legislature, and now a student at Stetson University College of Law, countered that her ex-husband traveled extensively and spent extravagantly while ignoring alimony payments.
In October, family law Judge Monica Sierra found Jonathan Alpert in contempt of court and ordered him jailed for five months and 29 days _ or until he paid $104,935 in back alimony and other support. He spent one day in jail before securing loans from his sister and a companion to pay his ex-wife.
Jonathan Alpert has renewed complaints about his declining health and business. He says he has no earned income this year and is "rendered insolvent" by the divorce judgment, which has had him pay his former wife $327,540.
Now, according to Liz Alpert, he is behind on alimony payments for November, December and this month, and faces a Jan. 29 deadline to pay a lump sum of $88,706.
Jonathan Alpert wants a judge to cut his support from almost $12,000 a month to "50 percent of his gross income" while the case is on appeal. A hearing on the motion has not yet been scheduled.
But Jonathan Alpert complains in his motion about more than money. He says Liz Alpert advertises herself on the Internet dating services to be "compassionate," yet fails to extend that compassion to him while his health and law practice are in decline.
He says it is "inequitable and unconscionable" for a court to enforce existing support orders against someone who is "ill and insolvent," while his ex-wife is permitted to "burn the money."
Liz Alpert said she believes her ex-husband still has money, despite his claim of poverty. She also said he hurts himself with the demeaning attacks on her.
"He won't destroy me with these attacks," she said. "He's only destroying himself."
_ Jeff Testerman can be reached at (813) 226-3422 or by e-mail at testermansptimes.com.