Senate Support Reform Bill Approves, Full Senate Vote Ahead

A bill that would end permanent spousal support has been introduced before a Senate committee, bringing Florida closer to most other states’ divorce laws when it comes to permanent spousal support.

Next up is the Senate.

The maintenance reform has been discussed in the legislature for more than 10 years. Republican Sen. Joe Gruters first committee stop for his bill (SB1416) this session made it appear that most objections to his earlier efforts had been dispelled.

The bill will no longer affect existing child support agreements, as previous laws would have done, Gruters said. The 23-page draft law is the result of extensive work with all stakeholders, he explained. And the The Florida Bar’s Family Law Section, which opposed previous reform efforts, is on board this year.

But a parade of women occurred Senate Rules of Procedure Committee to warn of the impact the legislation would have on them.

No one consulted with their group before writing the bill, he said Camille Fiveash. She said she represented the 3,000 members First Wives advocacy groupmost of them Republican women.

“Didn’t our governor make it clear when he said, ‘Don’t bring back any retroactive or unconstitutional law’?” she said. “That’s it. It’s retroactive.”

Democratic Sen. Lori Berman and Republican Sen. Clay Yarborough voted against the law.

Last year, the bill passed both the House of Representatives and the Senate. But at the finish line governor Ron DeSantis vetoed it. Last year’s legislation would have turned the agreements reached in previous years on their head.

However, Gruters said non-modifiable agreements cannot be changed, contrary to legislative efforts over the past year. All this bill does is solidify existing case law, he said.

“If it’s an unchangeable agreement, you still can’t change it,” he said.

Previously identical legislation (HB1409), the Republican Rep. John Temple submitted by Wildwood doesn’t seem to be progressing anytime soon. It received a subcommittee nod and must receive another in the House Judiciary Committee before a House-wide vote.

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Updated to reflect House bill, requires further committee approval.

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