January 24

What is the Florida Guide to Healthy Marriages?

Florida Guide to Healthy MarriagesThere is little argument that divorce comes at a pretty hefty price. Not just on the emotional and relationship ties, but cold, hard cash. The public and private costs incurred from divorce are tremendous, and Republicans in the Florida Legislature are presenting a bill for the upcoming session to try and lessen that cost. This bill will create what is called "Florida Guide to Healthy Marriages."

Republicans Senator Dennis Baxley, of Ocala, and Representative Clay Yarborough of Jacksonville want the Department of Children and Families to create the guidebook. The book would be developed under DCF and would help tackle the almost 2 billion dollar cost to taxpayers of divorce. These costs are in things like the justice system, Medicaid, and Florida's Temporary Assistance to needy Families program. Politicians contend that the personals costs associated with divorce affect women and children more so than men.

Current state law requires couples to sign off that have read the "Florida Family Law Handbook" or some other marriage-related information before getting a marriage license. This bill would add the "Healthy Marriage Guide" to that list. The Florida Department of Health reports about 77,000 divorces in the state in 2018. Unlike the current handbook, which focuses more on prenups, alimony, and finance, Baxley's plan focuses more on interpersonal issues like relationships, family success, violence, and conflict resolution.

Keep an eye on the 2020 Florida Legislative Session for more information.