Bill eliminating permanent alimony heads to Senate floor
Joe Gruters has his eye on kratom.

'Divorce is devastating. Let's make it less devastating by passing this bill.'

The controversial bill to end lifelong alimony advanced to the Senate floor Tuesday evening after about an hour of discussion in the Senate Rules Committee. 

This time around, after repeated unsuccessful attempts to pass similar alimony reform measures in recent years, Sarasota Republican Sen. Joe Gruters says his bill (SB 1796) is an improvement on past efforts. The measure would repeal court-ordered permanent alimony, leaving bridge-the-gap, rehabilitative, and durational alimony on for all divorces going forward.

“What we’re doing is we’re going in, and creating the process to make it so we can limit the litigation that exists,” Gruters said when presenting his bill. “This is all about — on the front end for new divorces — limiting the litigation, empowering both parents or both family members who are now going to be separating and trying to let them leave with as much dignity and respect as possible. Divorce is devastating. Let’s make it less devastating by passing this bill.”

The bill can be applied retroactively on modifiable agreements, a measure that drove opposition from public commenters and lawmakers. For alimony cases designated as non-modifiable in the marital settlement agreement, the court cannot apply the bill retroactively, Gruters said.

Opponents argue cutting permanent alimony would leave individuals caring for children in compromising positions. Additionally, they say the legislation only seeks to benefit the primary breadwinner, putting the other individual at an unfair disadvantage.

“It still is retroactive,” said Barbara DeVane for the Florida National Organization for Women. “I plead with you on behalf of older women who have given up their careers to raise the children while their husband was advancing in his career. They get no social security for raising children and taking care of the home, and now all of a sudden, they’re very scared about what’s going to happen when their ex-husbands rush back to court to take away the little bit that they have.”

As in years past, the bill drew opposition from several current alimony recipients who feared the changes could alter their modifiable alimony. Opponents also criticized the bill’s equal timesharing presumption for custody battles. 

The legislation would also remove the court’s ability to consider adultery of either spouse in determining the amount of an alimony award.

An amendment tacked on by Gruters and approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee Monday evening would provide parameters to the court to make determinations regarding the amount and duration of alimony.

The amendment would also allow alimony payers to ramp down payments if seeking to retire, while protecting those deemed vulnerable recipients.

The amendment would require the obligor to file a notice of retirement and intent to terminate alimony with the court and recipient. If the payor continues working and earns income despite reaching retirement age, alimony payments would continue until he or she actually retires and reduces active income by 50% of pre-retirement levels, according to the amendment.

Gruters contends that the amendment “allows permanent alimony payers to retire when reaching retirement age.”

“The whole goal for me was to create safety valves that exist,” Gruters said about his amendment. “Payees are going to be protected all the way through.”

However, the amendment did draw criticism. Family law lawyer Shannon Novey, representing the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, said it walked back what was progress on this year’s legislation. She said the retirement provisions speak to old agreements, “modifying those agreements retroactively.”

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. 

Gruters’ bill died in the Senate Rules Committee last year. The House voted 74-38 last year to pass the bill.

This year’s House version (HB 1395), carried by Fort Myers Republican Rep. Jenna Persons-Mulicka. Both drafts of the legislation would take effect in July.

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].


  • Robert Medici

    March 2, 2022 at 2:36 pm

    So Many Floridians that were married for a long duration then divorced should not have to be punished for life. My ex wife told me to my face that if she had to work and help support our household then it was time to find someone who would take care of her the way a man should. Living in small Florida town where everyone knows your business its easy for a small town judge to be persuaded by a pretty girl crying for pity especially when your wife’s friend is the judges assistance. 14 years of paying and she still has to get $5.00 from our daughter so she can go get her medicine (medical Marijuana) while I am out work 80 hours weeks to cover my bills and yea 80 HOURs. This isn’t nothing no more than modern day slavery. Being force to work to support someone else with nothing in return, what else can you call it. 23 years of lies, cheating and drug use and now I have to support her habits for life. ITS TIME FOR A CHANGE!!

    • No thank you

      March 10, 2022 at 5:45 pm

      The opposite can also be said ~ when a wife is “encouraged” to stay home and take care of the children, the house etc because the husband doesn’t want to interrupt his day to gather children from school, run to the doctor/dentist appointments, sports etc…and then the husband cheats and ruins the family after 23 years of marriage ~ leaving his wife in a situation with no job, no experience etc….And then shes afraid to divorce because she wont get alimony and feels as it is slavery to “serve” her husband who has been unfaithful.

  • Jacquelynne Jones

    March 14, 2022 at 10:30 am

    What if children are raised, in their 50’s. Husband has paid for over 32 years permanent alimony. Tried many times to get modification.
    The main source of income that this alimony was bankrupt in 1994, leaving him without a job. The dividends that he was supposed to get became non existant at that time..It has been absolute hell..

Comments are closed.


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