Should Florida offer marriage advice? State rep says yes

The state already gives out information on how to get a divorce. A House bill would put it in the business of advising people how to stay married.

The proposal would have the state create a committee that would produce a "marriage handbook" that would be provided to couples applying for a marriage license.

"We do give them a booklet (now), by the way," said bill sponsor Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala. "It's from the Florida Bar, telling them how to get a divorce. We can do better."

But some on the House Healthy Families Committee expressed concerns that the bill doesn't spell out who would pay for the book. Baxley said that can be decided later and it would likely be paid for by private groups that want to donate, many of them sectarian religious organizations.

Several opponents said they simply didn't think the state needed to dispense the advice.

"It's sort of like a nanny state where you're telling people how to run their marriages," said Rep. Lori Berman, D-Lantana.

Baxley countered that the state has a higher divorce rate than the national average – and that there are costs on society from disintegrating families, as well as hardships on children. The measure passed 7-5 in the committee on Monday and is assigned to two more committees before the floor.

A Senate companion is yet to be heard in committee.

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