Florida lawmakers want couples to read marriage guide before tying knot

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AP image

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – What is the secret to a healthy marriage? 

While that question may never truly be answered, a group of Florida lawmakers believe the state isn't doing enough to help new marriages succeed.

"The present handbook that we give has a few pages that are nice and then it goes to about 16 pages of how to get a divorce," said Sen. Dennis Baxley (R-Florida).

Baxely is backing a bill that would provide couples seeking a marriage license with an informational package full of marriage advice and resources.

"Things like family expectations. What I am expecting out of the marriage and this life together. Things like conflict resolution. If we have a difference what are our signals? How are we going to communicate that so that we are effective?" Baxley said.

Richard Albertson with Live the Life said the guides would help steer couples to the existing marriage resources in the state.

"If we give that to them in their handbook right when they get married, you can really help couples down the road when they hit that bump in the road, and they're struggling, and they're having a rough time to get some help," Albertson said.


The guides would be developed and distributed through private funds so there would be no cost to taxpayers, unlike the state's divorce rate, which stands at nearly 50%.

House Sponsor Clay Yarborough said divorce takes a toll on every part of society, including about $2 billion from tax payers' wallets.

"You're talking about temporary assistance for needy families, the child welfare system, the juvenile justice system, Medicaid," Yarborough said.

Those seeking a marriage license would have to sign off saying they've received and read the guide, but sponsors said whether couples follow the advice is out of their hands.