Florida Lawmakers Considering a Mandatory Marriage Guide for Couples
It is likely fair to say that most couples seek advice from close friends, family or respected peers before tying the knot with a partner. Even so, voluntarily seeking out advice from respected individuals is a far cry from a legal mandate requiring couples to read a marriage guide prior to receiving a license.
However, such a requirement may soon become a reality after Rep. Clay Yarborough filed HB 1323. The aim of this bill is to further reduce Florida’s divorce rates, which have seen a steady decline since 1990.
What Content Is Included in the Bill’s Proposed Marriage Guide?
Based on the language of HB 1323 itself, it is clear that the guide aims to be quite comprehensive. Topics expected to be covered in the guide include:
- How to handle conflict
- Tips for successful marital communication
- How to allocate parental responsibilities
- Advice pertaining to domestic violence
- Financial management
The guide will also provide Florida couples with resources to seek out further marital education and advice in the event of a failing marriage. At present, the new proposal has already cleared the first of three committees, inching ever closer to becoming law.
Reactions to the Proposed Bill Are Mixed
Proponents of the bill believe that the bill’s required reading would be a good start for couples learning to deal with common marital issues. One psychologist, for example, spoke to Tampa Bay’s 10 News and indicated that couples frequently have a vision of marriage that does not align with reality. A guide like the one proposed, under this view, could help Florida couples.
Others are far more skeptical of the notion that a guide created by the newly formed Marriage Education Committee will make much of a difference at all. Florida divorce rates are already falling, and research has shown that the median length of a first marriage ending in divorce is 12 years. Such findings give reason to doubt whether reading a marriage guide at the outset will truly help couples grapple with issues they may face many years later.
As the debate over the bill continues, Florida couples considering marriage should know that the marriage license process will be more complicated if the bill becomes law.
In the event that HB 1323 becomes law, couples seeking a marriage license will need to verify they have read or accessed the guide’s information or seen an electronic presentation that covered several issues within the guide itself.
As always, our team at The McKinney Law Group is here to answer all of your Florida family law questions, including any you may have about obtaining a marriage license. Contact us online for a consultation to discuss your Florida family law concerns today.
If you have questions regarding a divorce attorney (Tampa, Florida), or are unaware as to the terms and conditions in, talk to, and retain, a family law attorney who can help. Contact Damien McKinney of The McKinney Law Group to discuss your case further. He can be reached by phone at 813-428-3400 or by e-mail at [email protected]