Senate committee delays vote on alimony reform bill after public testimony
Joe Gruters. Image via Colin Hackley.

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The bill would eliminate permanent alimony.

A seemingly perpetual bill seeking to revamp Florida’s alimony laws made its first appearance in its return to the Legislature this year. 

Sarasota Republican Sen. Joe Gruters sponsored this year’s bill (SB 1922), which was initially scheduled to be voted on Monday in the Senate Judiciary Committee, but when the committee ran out of time, the bill was delayed until next week.

The legislation, which has been proposed for the past several years, would eliminate permanent alimony and would set the presumption of child custody time sharing at 50-50. If passed, Florida would join 44 other states that have enacted reform laws to ban perpetual alimony.  

Despite the delayed vote, the committee did hear some public comment on the bill from both alimony payers and recipients.

Opponents of the bill argued cutting permanent alimony would leave individuals who may care for children in compromising positions, and that the legislation only seeks to benefit the primary breadwinner, putting the other individual at an unfair disadvantage. 

“These are not people living the life, these are people just getting by,” said Lisa Williams, an opponent of the bill. “We are in a pandemic, and this is not a good time to make such drastic changes in people’s lives. The person who’s getting away with everything, is the person who always gets away with everything. It’s the one who had the powerful job, and the one who had all the money to begin with.”

Those in support of the legislation included divorcees paying alimony. Some shared concerns that they would not be able to retire because of the continuous alimony payment.

“I cannot retire, because I am paying for alimony,” said John Famularo, who divorced 13 years ago. “I would like the right to retire and enjoy my golden years. After all, that’s why I worked so hard — to enjoy these years in my later life.”

Currently, long-term alimony can be modified at a judge’s discretion. A 1992 Florida Supreme Court ruling found that retirement counts as a change in circumstances that can modify alimony.

Miami Republican Rep. Anthony Rodriguez is sponsoring the House version of the bill (HB 1559).

Alimony reform has been a hot-button issue for the past several Legislative Sessions. In 2016, a reform bill made it to Gov. Rick Scott, who vetoed it over concerns it would harm children.

Last year, the proposal (HB 843) was sponsored by Rep. Alex Andrade. In the past, the Pensacola Republican has likened permanent alimony to “forced labor” by requiring payors to work past retirement age. The Senate companion (SB 1832) is sponsored by Lakeland Republican Sen. Kelli Stargel.

Kelly Hayes

Kelly Hayes studied journalism and political science at the University of Florida. Kelly was born and raised in Tampa Bay. A recent graduate, she enjoys government and legal reporting. She has experience covering the Florida Legislature as well as local government, and is a proud Alligator alum. You can reach Kelly at [email protected]


8 comments

  • Barry

    March 23, 2021 at 7:34 pm

    I have been paying alimony since December 2005. We had no children and were only married for less than 17 years. She got half my retirement and now I am being forced to pay alimony until I die…..or until she does…..This has got to change. No one should be forced to pay alimony for longer than they were married!!

  • Mike a

    March 24, 2021 at 8:57 pm

    Florida alimony laws are stuck in the 1800s. All of a sudden Florida’s NOW mouthpiece states that women aren’t capable of supporting themselves during a pandemic. First off, many payers are actually women, not men. Secondly, beige the gap alimony will allow a woman time to use her alimony toward schooling and expenses. If there are children involved, that IS NOT PART of alimony. That gets paid separately via a calculation approved by a judge.

    If Florida finally moves into the 21st Century on alimony reform, the only ones crying will be the blood sucking leaches AKA the “family” law attorneys. Your time has come, counselors. Find another Ponzi scheme.

    • Diane

      March 29, 2021 at 10:06 pm

      You can state any position about alimony, legislative reform, etc. But there is simply no need to use such useless, inflammatory statements about attorneys. YES, I am a family law attorney and, NO, I do not perpetuate a case for fees. Representing a client requires you to advise them of the law and obtain the best result for them. That is your job. And if the law changes, then we will enforce that law. Opine on what you would like to see happen in changing the law; it has nothing to do with name-calling or disrespecting someone’s job.

  • Abel

    March 25, 2021 at 7:03 pm

    I’m a retired Air Force Master Sergeant, 24+ years with a Total and Permanently Disabled & Unemployable rating. My sources of income are Military Retirement Pension, VA Disability Compensation, and Social Security Disability.

    My question to anyone who may be able to help is this: Why is there no limit set in the amount Florida judges can take from your disability compensation/income to pay towards alimony? My spouse is NOT disabled and is able to work, and there are NO children involved. I’m being forced to give up my disability compensation/income on a permanent basis for life to someone who is capable to work and with no disability or children to care for. There needs to be an ending date for alimony payments.

    My spouse will be receiving over 41% of my retirement pension even though she is only entitled to 35%, plus an additional $2,000 in permanent alimony which will have to come from my disability compensation/income. I’ve done lots of research and could not find anything which stops or limits the Florida judges from taking disability compensation/income from a disabled individual and giving it to a non-disabled (who can work and NO children involved) person in the form of alimony. I receive VA Disability Compensation and SSA Disability and am paying 41.52% of my disability compensation/income towards a non-disabled person in the form of permanent alimony.

    The spouse is also receiving a 3 bedroom 2 bath 1,700+ sf mortgage free home and a 2007 Honda Odyssey LX family minivan debt free. I am also required to have a $300,000 life insurance policy to continue paying alimony when I DIE, this is under Florida law. I thought alimony stops when you die.

    Under Florida law they look at ALL sources of income in determining alimony.

    The 2018 Florida Statutes 61.08 Alimony.—

    (i) All sources of income available to either party, including income available to either party through investments of any asset held by that party.

    I have found this article on the internet and am wondering if this is a true article on the states jurisdictional ability to take disability income. Can anyone verify this?

    http://veteranhope.org/rose/

    I have been denied the ability to appeal the alimony, denied the ability to depose her financial affidavit which she has inflated all her expenses and even denied to try and modify the alimony.

    If there is anyone with information in this matter, who can help explain this or help in creating/passing some kind of law to help disabled individuals in protecting their disability compensation/income I would like to hear from you.

    Disability compensation/income was meant to be for the disabled not to be then given to a non-disabled individual. If anything, at least create/pass a law to place a limit on how much can be taken away.

  • Ken Brock

    March 27, 2021 at 3:38 am

    We were married 21 years. She got the house and furniture, her 401k, money market, all the money in the checking and savings and her car. All I got was a $1000 a month alimony bill to pay her till she’s 67, she just turned 60 in Feb and we’ve been divorced for 2 year. My only income, VA disability and Social security. I’m 100% disabled and got screwed.

  • Bill Nesmith

    March 27, 2021 at 6:08 pm

    I ‘ve been paying ailmony since 2004 when my wife and I divorced. She was remarried within a year of our divorce ! I’ve been paying $1750.00 per month for 17 years.

    • Jeffrey Dombeck

      March 29, 2021 at 4:48 pm

      How can that be? If the alimony receiving spouse remarries the alimony is over. I can’t believe that you don’t know that. Maybe I misunderstood your situation, but remarriage by the obligee cancels out the alimony and the new bills that might become law have nothing to do with that.

  • Jeffrey Dombeck

    March 29, 2021 at 4:56 pm

    I have been paying $5500 a month for a marriage that lasted 24 years. The children were over 18 years old at the time, so they weren’t even considered. My ex has not had a full time job since. We split the assets down the middle, and here I am 74 yrs old still paying permanent alimony. Why would she work full time when she has not only the pension (alimony) but half my social security, plus a pension from a job that I had at the time of divorce. As crazy at it sounds, it’s true and this should change. She must have enough money because she never asked for an increase in the alimony in 27 years. Oh yeah, I also paid all of the legal fees including an audit by the forensic accountant ($10,000)at the time. Needless to say when I tell friends of my situation they honestly don’t believe that this is possible in today’s world.

Comments are closed.


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