Florida Senate - 2020                       CS for CS for SB 682
       By the Committees on Judiciary; and Children, Families, and
       Elder Affairs; and Senator Baxley
       590-03965-20                                           2020682c2
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act relating to the Florida Healthy Marriage
    3         Handbook; creating s. 741.0307, F.S.; creating the
    4         Florida Healthy Marriage Handbook; providing
    5         requirements for the handbook; providing for
    6         distribution of printed copies of the handbook under
    7         certain circumstances; requiring clerks of the circuit
    8         court to post electronic copies of the handbook on its
    9         website and make the handbook available to certain
   10         applicants; encouraging clerks of the circuit court to
   11         provide a list of course providers and websites where
   12         certain classes are available; amending s. 741.04,
   13         F.S.; prohibiting the issuance of a marriage license
   14         until petitioners verify that both parties have
   15         obtained and read the Florida Healthy Marriage
   16         Handbook or some other presentation of similar
   17         information; providing an effective date.
   19  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   21         Section 1. Section 741.0307, Florida Statutes, is created
   22  to read:
   23         741.0307Florida Healthy Marriage Handbook.—
   24         (1)There shall be created a handbook which includes
   25  resources, information, and website links to assist in forming
   26  and maintaining a long-term marital relationship. This handbook
   27  is supplemental to the Family Law Handbook created under s.
   28  741.0306.
   29         (2)The handbook shall read substantially as follows:
   31  Introduction
   33  Congratulations! You have made the decision to get married. This
   34  decision means that you and your partner agree to enter into a
   35  formal contract. This contract outlines the conditions of your
   36  new partnership. This partnership impacts the ownership of your
   37  money and possessions and the way you relate to each other. When
   38  you talk about your marriage expectations before getting
   39  married, you begin to understand the new roles and
   40  responsibilities. This mutual understanding helps to lay a
   41  foundation that can help you build a successful, enduring
   42  marriage.
   44  The purpose of this handbook is to provide information to
   45  marriage license applicants that can help to create successful
   46  marriages. It includes topics such as learning to communicate
   47  effectively, building your team, solving problems
   48  collaboratively, and resolving conflicts. The handbook also
   49  provides general information on economic issues, raising a
   50  family, and the consequences that occur when marriages fail.
   52  Building a Marriage
   54  As you and your spouse begin your journey together, the first
   55  thing you will need to know is where you are going. Your shared
   56  destination is determined by your personal and shared values.
   57  The marriage journey will require lots of decisions from both of
   58  you. Through mutual respect, trust, honesty, and love, you will
   59  have a rewarding trip.
   61  Understanding Your Values
   63  Your values are the foundation for all of your thinking and
   64  decision-making. Every decision you make is an effort to align
   65  your actions to your values. When you marry, you will be sharing
   66  your life with another person. It is so important that you know
   67  your own values and the values of your intended spouse. Think
   68  about the values you consider sacred in your life and share this
   69  information with your partner.
   71  Discuss these issues prior to making a marriage commitment.
   72  Build upon your mutual ideals. A harmonious, lasting marriage
   73  will be built upon a foundation of shared values and the
   74  effective communication of these values.
   76  Building Your Team
   78  Marriage is a team effort. One of the definitions of the word
   79  team is “a group of persons pulling together.” Talking to each
   80  other and sharing in decisions that affect both team members is
   81  very important. Talking, listening, and valuing your partner’s
   82  ideas and contributions will make your marriage team strong and
   83  healthy.
   85  Learning Effective Communication
   87  Learning to communicate effectively requires commitment from
   88  both you and your partner. It takes time and LOTS of energy, but
   89  it is worth the effort. To commune literally means “to put in
   90  common; to share.” The goal of effective communication is to
   91  create a common understanding with your partner. This common
   92  understanding is the cement of a strong marriage. Honesty is an
   93  essential component of effective communication. However, honesty
   94  must be tempered with kindness. Good communication between both
   95  of you promotes mutual trust and respect.
   97  Successful marriages depend on good communication between both
   98  partners. Learning to be a good communicator takes patience and
   99  practice.
  101  Resolving Conflicts
  103  Another step in building a lasting marriage is learning to
  104  examine and confront issues effectively. Couples in the
  105  healthiest marriages experience conflicts. Conflicts are normal
  106  because you and your partner have different beliefs and
  107  opinions. Conflict is simply a clash between these beliefs and
  108  opinions. The cause of conflict is that you and your partner see
  109  and approach situations and events differently. Conflict results
  110  when there are opposite points of view and each person believes
  111  that their viewpoint is right and their partner’s viewpoint is
  112  wrong. The result is two different interpretations.
  114  People in conflict are seldom upset about what they think they
  115  are upset about. One event may trigger an emotional outburst.
  116  The outburst often is caused by a series of unresolved issues. A
  117  win/lose situation will not solve the problem. Resolving
  118  conflicts effectively strives to achieve a win/win solution for
  119  both of you. How can you find an answer that benefits you and
  120  your partner? The first step is for the two of you to step out
  121  of the battle and look beyond the event that created the
  122  conflict. The next step is to shift your focus to your common
  123  interests, mutual values, and positive qualities.
  125  Refocusing your own thinking helps to calm emotions. You can
  126  redirect your thinking — and your partner’s — to what you both
  127  really want: an activity or mutual goal, something more
  128  satisfying than the conflict. Couples can change their conflict
  129  experiences by changing their thoughts about the situation.
  131  Keeping the Marriage Vital
  133  When you first get married, usually everything is new and
  134  exciting. But how do you keep your marriage new and exciting
  135  year after year? You have started a lifelong journey together.
  136  This journey will have many stops along the way. Each of your
  137  destinations will bring maturity to your relationship and to
  138  each of you. Your affection for each other increases through the
  139  lessons that you learn together and the laughter and the tears
  140  that you share. It is a good journey! Couples who can laugh
  141  together under challenging circumstances and gain the
  142  understanding of true friendship keep their marriage vital.
  144  Addressing Economic Issues
  146  As you prepare for your new journey as a couple, you have
  147  several financial issues to discuss. What financial resources
  148  and obligations do you bring into your marriage? Do you have
  149  business debts? Will you combine your finances and have joint
  150  checking and savings accounts or maintain separate accounts? Who
  151  will pay the bills? Will you develop a budget together?
  153  Talking to each other about how you plan to earn, spend, and
  154  save your money is easier when you agree on priorities. Your
  155  marriage benefits from forming and sticking to a spending plan
  156  that includes discussion and agreement.
  158  Sharing Financial Responsibilities
  160  It is wise to make major financial decisions together. You both
  161  will be responsible for those decisions. If you are
  162  uncomfortable at the thought of sharing financial
  163  responsibilities with your intended spouse, you might want to
  164  seek premarital counseling to determine underlying issues and to
  165  decide if marriage is the right decision for you at this time.
  167  One of you may be better at balancing a checkbook, paying the
  168  bills, and developing a budget. As you take this marital journey
  169  with your partner, talk with each other about which one of you
  170  is best suited to do specific financial tasks. Then, after you
  171  are married, try out your new system! Adjust it if it doesn’t
  172  work well.
  174  Here are some specific financial planning tips. Decide together:
  176  If you will maintain one joint checking account or separate
  177  individual checking accounts. Who will pay the bills and
  178  maintain the checking account(s)? How often and how much
  179  personal allowance each of you should receive. What is an
  180  appropriate savings and investment plan? How you will pay for
  181  large purchases such as automobiles and major appliances.
  183  Building a Budget
  185  Building a budget helps you to know how much income you will
  186  have, how much money you will spend, and how much money will be
  187  left over. It helps you to control your spending. A budget helps
  188  you to save money!
  190  What are some steps to assist you?
  191         1.Identify your financial goals: short range (e.g., buying
  192  groceries and gasoline) and long term (e.g., buying a house,
  193  setting up a college fund for your children).
  194         2.Look at your current financial position. What is your
  195  monthly household income? What are your debts?
  196         3.Write out a monthly budget for 12 months. Write out
  197  monthly expenses in the different categories (e.g., $300 car
  198  payment, $600 rent). Estimate how much you will spend in each
  199  category.
  200         4.Compare your budget to your financial goals. Is there
  201  money left over after meeting your monthly obligations? If so,
  202  how much of the leftover money can be used for your goals? If
  203  you follow the budget you set up, how long will it take you to
  204  reach your goals?
  205         5.Compare your actual costs to the costs you budgeted. Was
  206  your budget realistic?
  207         6.Review and revise your budget. Stay on track toward
  208  meeting your joint financial goals.
  209         7.Decide who will work, who will provide childcare, and
  210  who will obtain further formal education.
  211         8.How much insurance will be necessary?
  213  It is important to make your budget realistic and flexible.
  214  Major categories of expenses are: rent or mortgage payment;
  215  utilities; food and household goods; clothing; healthcare;
  216  insurance premiums; tuition, charitable donations;
  217  transportation; household maintenance; credit card debt; hobbies
  218  and entertainment; vacation and holiday savings; and other
  219  expenses, such as cosmetics, hair care, veterinary fees (if you
  220  have pets), gifts, plants, and artwork.
  222  Certain budget items are fundamental expenditures or
  223  “absolutes,” such as housing, food, and transportation. Other
  224  budget items are less important. Other budget items are
  225  “discretionary expenditures,” such as hobbies, vacations, gifts,
  226  and artwork are a lower priority than housing and food.
  227  Prioritize your budget items, starting with “absolutes.”
  229  Involve your spouse in major budget decisions. Talk together
  230  about the mutual benefit and impact of your budget decisions.
  231  For example, what should you do if one of you wants a new
  232  computer while the other wants new carpet, and there is money
  233  for only one of the two items?
  235  Which of the purchases is most needed and beneficial to both of
  236  you? What is the impact on the quality of your life together if
  237  you buy the computer? The carpeting? Set your purchasing
  238  priorities together. Be a team working towards your shared
  239  financial goals.
  241  Raising a Family
  243  Deciding to start a family is a BIG decision! The change you
  244  experienced when your household became two triples with the
  245  addition of a child! Children bring great joy, sleepless nights,
  246  and new roles and responsibilities for both of you.
  248  Parenthood is a lifetime commitment. It requires emotional
  249  maturity from both partners. Raising children can be the most
  250  satisfying experience when both of you are ready to make this
  251  unselfish commitment.
  253  Taking Responsibility for Raising Children
  255  The decision to have children needs to be mutual. Children bring
  256  an enormous change to your relationship with each other. Some of
  257  the spontaneity that you once had as a couple may change.
  258  Fatigue from early childcare demands and feelings of uncertainty
  259  in your new roles can cause temporary marital stress. Career and
  260  childcare decisions, economic implications and new financial
  261  demands, and new housing requirements will need to be discussed.
  262  But the joys of parenthood outweigh the tensions of change.
  264  Raising a child is a team effort and requires both partners to
  265  be active participants. You are bringing into the world a new
  266  human being who will require your full support physically,
  267  emotionally, socially, instructionally, and economically. Both
  268  of you are responsible for your child’s care. This mutual
  269  responsibility for the care of your child or children never
  270  ends. When you agreed to have a child, you signed on for life.
  272  Coping with Family Challenges
  274  Sometimes raising children can be very difficult. You may find
  275  that you need help. Some children have problems making friends,
  276  getting along in school, and staying out of trouble with the
  277  law. Family counseling can strengthen families by providing a
  278  safe place to explore issues and resolve problems.
  280  Walking Rocky Roads
  282  If sad times start to outweigh happy times with your spouse, you
  283  are walking a lonely, rocky road in your marriage. Examine your
  284  own life, your spouse’s life, and your relationship with each
  285  other. If you and your spouse can renew your love and commitment
  286  to each other, together you can remove the obstructions in your
  287  marriage. Professional counselors and/or members of the clergy
  288  may help you remove some of the boulders in your marriage path.
  289  Depending on the type of problems you encounter, you may find
  290  specific support groups and counseling classes to help you. Also
  291  refer to the phone book or online directories for listings of
  292  counselors, support groups, religious organizations, and other
  293  community resources.
  295  Conclusion
  297  This free handbook is one way that the State of Florida is
  298  showing its support of your decision to marry. The information
  299  has been intended to be a basic roadmap to guide you. The State
  300  of Florida hopes that you have a happy and healthy marriage!
  302  Again, congratulations!
  304         (3)The clerk of the circuit court shall post an electronic
  305  copy of the handbook on its website. Additionally, if printed
  306  copies of the handbook are made available to the office of the
  307  clerk of the circuit court, the clerk shall make the handbook
  308  available to marriage license applicants. The clerk of the
  309  circuit court is encouraged to provide a list of course
  310  providers and sites where marriage and relationship skill
  311  building classes are available.
  312         Section 2. Paragraph (b) of subsection (4) of section
  313  741.04, Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
  314         741.04 Issuance of marriage license.—
  315         (4) A county court judge or clerk of the circuit court may
  316  not issue a license for the marriage of any person unless the
  317  county court judge or clerk of the circuit court is first
  318  presented with both of the following:
  319         (b) A written statement that verifies that both parties
  320  have obtained and read or otherwise accessed the information
  321  contained in the handbooks handbook or other electronic media
  322  presentation of the rights and responsibilities of parties to a
  323  marriage specified in ss. 741.0306 and 741.0307 s. 741.0306.
  324         Section 3. This act shall take effect July 1, 2020.