According to a state analysis, about half of Florida's marriages end in divorce. To curb that number, Republicans want to require couples to read a handbook before they can get a marriage license.
Right now, to get married in Florida, couples have to read,or at least obtain, a handbook written by the Family Law Section of the Florida Bar. Now, lawmakers want to add another book. Two different proposals to create the guide are gaining traction in the legislature. Both bills aim to prevent divorce but have different ways of doing so. Sen. Dennis Baxley (R-Ocala) wants to create a committee to draft the 'Florida Guide to a Healthy Marriage.' Baxley says it will help couples have conversations essential to their marriage.
"They're fixing to do something that is going to have lifelong consequences for them and their families," Baxley says. "A lot of them... have not talked about the things that are in this guide."
The exact language of the handbook has not yet been written, but its topics would include conflict management, communication skills, financial responsibilities, and more. Couples could opt-out from reading the book if they review material that covers the same topics in Baxley's book.
Rep. Clay Yarborough (R-Jacksonville) says no committee would be created draft his Handbook. Yarborough already has the language worked out. He says it doesn't include controversial topics.
"It's all very positive information. It doesn't get into the definition of marriage. It doesn't get into anything that I would deem to be controversial. It's just good information that you would have available to you when you go to get your license... You can do what it says if you want, but you don't have to," Yarborough says.
His bill would require Floridians to read or access both the current handbook by the Florida Bar and the 'Florida Healthy Marriage Handbook' to get a marriage license.