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Marriage Education Handbook Bill Introduced by Kelli Stargel, Dennis Baxley

March 4, 2013 - 6:00pm

Sen. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, and Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, have filedSB 1586and HB 1163 respectively, to create a marriage education handbook, according to a press release by the Florida Family Policy Council.

Two weeks ago,sources told Sunshine State Newsthat such a bill was in the works.

The handbook will be distributed statewide through the offices of the clerks of court to couples applying for a marriage license and will include information on communication skills, conflict resolution, parenting, managing finances and where a married couple can get personal or professional help with their marriage should they need it in the future.

So many young couples getting married today come from broken homes and cannot draw upon a living example of how a marriage works," Stargel is quoted in the release. "Marriage is one of the greatest safeguards against poverty in our society and this handbook will be an invaluable resource to hundreds of thousands of newly married couples to help them develop healthy and strong marriages.

"The state has a compelling interest in keeping marriages and families successful and thriving," echoed Baxley. "In Florida alone, the taxpayers cost as a result of family fragmentation from divorce and unwed childbearing is just short of $2 billion every year. Every marriage that is saved and strengthened is both an economic and a social victory for Florida.

Several other states have created marriage handbooks, including Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas and Utah.

An amendment will be offered to ensure the handbook also includes resources and help for victims of domestic violence and to give more specific instructions to the clerks of court regarding distribution of the handbook.

New married couples are currently givena booklet published bythe Family Law Section of the Florida Bar.

Thats basically a book on how to get divorced, a source has described the book to SSN. Right on the front end of the marriage, were giving couples a way to undermine the foundation of their relationship. I think thats really counterproductive. It sends a really bad message.

Stargel and Baxley's bill is notexpected to have any economic impact, as the design and production of theirproposedbooklet will be paid for by funds raised from grant requests with private foundations.

Reach Eric Giunta at and (954) 235-9116.

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