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Influence

Florida Bar embraces ‘healthy marriage’ language

Compromise reached on long-sought language.

For those who believe Floridians need more guidance in successfully marrying, new guidance is headed their way.

The Florida Bar last week signalled its intention to add language from a “Guide to a Healthy Marriage,” fulfilling a years-long quest by two conservative Republican lawmakers to make guidance available to avoid family fragmentation.

Amy Hamlin, Chair of the Family Law Section of the Florida Bar (“Section”), wrote Rep. Clay Yarborough advising that the language would be added to its Family Law Handbook.

The hand-delivered letter expressed hope that the legislation (SB 682/HB 319) would no longer be needed.

Exultant quotes were provided from Senate and House sponsors.

“We are grateful to work with the Family Law Section to place our successful family guidance issues in this single handbook for newlyweds. We need them to have the discussion tools to prevent family fragmentation,” said Senator Dennis Baxley.

“Hopefully we can help avoid divorce and lower the divorce rate as we have seen success in other states. Stronger families help build a stronger Florida,” Baxley added.

“This is a great victory for soon-to-be-married couples in Florida and we believe it can help reduce the very high percentage of divorce in our State, which is at 49%. Family fragmentation burdens Florida’s budget by billions of dollars annually,” said Representative Yarborough.

“Promoting healthy marriages and families is in the State’s best interest and will significantly reduce the economic impact to taxpayers. Our sincere thanks to the Family Law Section of the Florida Bar for working with us in this very important endeavor,” Yarborough said.

Back in November, the sponsors staged a media availability in the Florida Capitol, where they outlined the process for what seemed like longshot legislation.

Baxley noted that divorce often leaves “two poor families” where one functional unit had been previously.

Yarborough outlined statistics to that end.

He noted that for every two marriages in 2018, one ended by divorce or annulment.

“Family fragmentation” has its costs, Yarborough said. Among them: a higher incidence of poverty for divorced women.

All told, divorce costs Floridian taxpayers $1.9 billion, Yarborough said, with $181 million in child welfare costs.

The bills were moving, and likely could have passed; however, now they won’t be needed.

Written By

A.G. Gancarski has been a working journalist for over two decades. Gancarski has been a correspondent for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." He can be reached at a.g.gancarski@gmail.com.

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