Marriage Education Handbook Bill Introduced by Kelli Stargel, Dennis Baxley

By: Eric Giunta | Posted: March 6, 2013 2:00 PM
Marriage Rings

Photo illustration

Sen. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, and Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, have filed SB 1586 and HB 1163 respectively, to create a marriage education handbook, according to a press release by the Florida Family Policy Council. 

Two weeks ago, sources told Sunshine State News that such a bill was in the works.

The handbook will be distributed statewide through the offices of the clerks of court to couples applying for a marriage license and will include information on communication skills, conflict resolution, parenting, managing finances and where a married couple can get personal or professional help with their marriage should they need it in the future.

“So many young couples getting married today come from broken homes and cannot draw upon a living example of how a marriage works," Stargel is quoted in the release. "Marriage is one of the greatest safeguards against poverty in our society and this handbook will be an invaluable resource to hundreds of thousands of newly married couples to help them develop healthy and strong marriages.”

"The state has a compelling interest in keeping marriages and families successful and thriving," echoed Baxley. "In Florida alone, the taxpayers cost as a result of family fragmentation from divorce and unwed childbearing is just short of $2 billion every year. Every marriage that is saved and strengthened is both an economic and a social victory for Florida.”

Several other states have created marriage handbooks, including Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas and Utah.

An amendment will be offered to ensure the handbook also includes resources and help for victims of domestic violence and to give more specific instructions to the clerks of court regarding distribution of the handbook. 

New married couples are currently given a booklet published by the Family Law Section of the Florida Bar.

“That’s basically a book on how to get divorced,” a source has described the book to SSN. “Right on the front end of the marriage, we’re giving couples a way to undermine the foundation of their relationship. I think that’s really counterproductive. It sends a really bad message.”

Stargel and Baxley's bill is not expected  to have any economic impact, as the design and production of their proposed booklet will be paid for by funds raised from grant requests with private foundations.

Reach Eric Giunta at egiunta@sunshinestatenews.com and (954) 235-9116. 

Comments (1)

Richard Marks
9:00PM MAR 8TH 2013
SO GLAD to know that his is taking place in our State. Huge kudos to these lawmakers in our state.

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