• Florida bill would add new requirement before couples can marry

    By: Jenna Bourne , Action News Jax


    The state Legislature wants to tell Floridians how to have a healthy marriage.

    In the wake of sexual harassment and affairs among state lawmakers, Jacksonville Republican Rep. Clay Yarborough filed the Florida Guide to a Healthy Marriage bill in the state House on Monday.

    Lakeland Republican State Sen. Kelli Stargel filed the Senate version last week.

    The bill would prohibit couples from getting a marriage license until they verify they’ve read a new Florida Guide to a Healthy Marriage.

    “The statistics have been staggering over the years for divorces and kind of the subsequent problems that go along with that, like children who don’t have families that are put together,” said Yarborough.

    The bill said the guide would be written by a panel of six marriage and family advocates.

    That panel would be appointed by the governor, Senate president and speaker of the house -- all Republicans.

    The guide would cover topics like conflict management, communication, parenting responsibilities, financial management and domestic violence.

    Jacksonville divorce attorney Heather Quick said she does not think the guide will lead to fewer divorces.

    “Probably not,” said Quick. “Challenges don’t typically happen in those first months to years. So how much they’re going to remember that and how much impact it will have when problems do arise, I do wonder about that.”

    Yarborough said taxpayers shouldn’t be on the hook; that’s why the bill said the committee would raise funding for the guide from private sources.

    Action News Jax asked Yarborough if those private sources could include churches or other religious groups.

    “There’s not an exclusion in the bill. It doesn’t specify who the funds would or wouldn’t come from,” said Yarborough.

    Costs could include design, layout, printing and distribution.

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