Section 1. Sections 1-16 of this act may be cited as the
"Marriage Preparation and Preservation Act of 1998."

Section 2. (1) It is the finding of the Legislature based on reliable research
that:

(1) The divorce rate has been accelerating.
(2) Just as the family is the foundation of society, the marital relationFlorship
is the foundation of the family. Consequently, strengthening marriages
can only lead to stronger families, children, and communities, as well as a
stronger economy.
(3) An inability to cope with stress from both internal and external
sources leads to significantly higher incidents of domestic violence, child
abuse, absenteeism, medical costs, learning and social deficiencies, and divorce.
(4) Relationship skills can be learned.
(5) Once learned, relationship skills can facilitate communication between
parties to a marriage and assist couples in avoiding conflict.
(6) Once relationship skills are learned, they are generalized to parenting,
the workplace, schools, neighborhoods, and civic relationships.
(7) By reducing conflict and increasing communication, stressors can be
diminished and coping can be furthered.
(8) When effective coping exists, domestic violence, child abuse, and divorce
and its effect on children, such as absenteeism, medical costs, and
learning and social deficiencies, are diminished.
(9) The state has a compelling interest in educating its citizens with
regard to marriage and, if contemplated, the effects of divorce.
(2) This section shall take effect January 1, 1999.

Section 3. Effective January 1, 1999, paragraph (i) of subsection (1) of
section 232.246, Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
232.246 General requirements for high school graduation.

(1) Graduation requires successful completion of either a minimum of 24
academic credits in grades 9 through 12 or an International Baccalaureate
curriculum. The 24 credits shall be distributed as follows:
(i) One-half credit in life management skills to include consumer education,
positive emotional development, marriage and relationship skill-based
education, nutrition, prevention of human immunodeficiency virus infection
and acquired immune deficiency syndrome and other sexually transmissible
diseases, benefits of sexual abstinence and consequences of teenage pregnancy,
information and instruction on breast cancer detection and breast
self-examination, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, drug education, and the
hazards of smoking. Such credit shall be given for a course to be taken by
all students in either the 9th or 10th grade.
School boards may award a maximum of one-half credit in social studies and
one-half elective credit for student completion of nonpaid voluntary community
or school service work. Students choosing this option must complete a
minimum of 75 hours of service in order to earn the one-half credit in either
category of instruction. Credit may not be earned for service provided as a
result of court action. School boards that approve the award of credit for
student volunteer service shall develop guidelines regarding the award of
the credit, and school principals are responsible for approving specific volunteer
activities. A course designated in the Course Code Directory as grade
9 through grade 12 which is taken below the 9th grade may be used to satisfy
high school graduation requirements or Florida Academic Scholar�s Certificate
Program requirements as specified in a district�s pupil progression
plan.

Section 4. Effective January 1, 1999, subsection (5) is added to section
741.01, Florida Statutes, to read:
741.01 County court judge or clerk of the circuit court to issue marriage
license; fee.�
(5) The fee charged for each marriage license issued in the state shall be
reduced by a sum of $32.50 for all couples who present valid certificates of
completion of a premarital preparation course from a qualified course provider
registered under s. 741.0305(5) for a course taken no more than 1 year
prior to the date of application for a marriage license. For each license issued
that is subject to the fee reduction of this subsection, the clerk is not required
to transfer the sum of $7.50 to the State Treasury for deposit in the Displaced
Homemaker Trust Fund pursuant to subsection (3) or to transfer the
sum of $25 to the Supreme Court for deposit in the Family Courts Trust
Fund.
Section 5. Effective January 1, 1999, section 741.0305, Florida Statutes,
is created to read:
741.0305 Marriage fee reduction for completion of premarital preparation
course.�
(1) A man and a woman who intend to apply for a marriage license under
s. 741.04 may, together or separately, complete a premarital preparation
course of not less than 4 hours. Each individual shall verify completion of
the course by filing with the application a valid certificate of completion from
the course provider, which certificate shall specify whether the course was
completed by personal instruction, videotape instruction, instruction via
other electronic medium, or a combination of those methods. All individuals
who complete a premarital preparation course pursuant to this section must
be issued a certificate of completion at the conclusion of the course by their
course provider. Upon furnishing such certificate when applying for a marriage
license, the individuals shall have their marriage license fee reduced
by $32.50.
(2) The premarital preparation course may include instruction regarding:
(a) Conflict management.
(b) Communication skills.
(c) Financial responsibilities.
(d) Children and parenting responsibilities.
(e) Data compiled from available information relating to problems re-ported
by married couples who seek marital or individual counseling.
(3)(a) All individuals electing to participate in a premarital preparation
course shall choose from the following list of qualified instructors:
1. A psychologist licensed under chapter 490.
2. A clinical social worker licensed under chapter 491.
3. A marriage and family therapist licensed under chapter 491.
4. A mental health counselor licensed under chapter 491.
5. An official representative of a religious institution which is recognized
under s. 496.404(20), if the representative has relevant training.
6. Any other provider designated by a judicial circuit, including, but not
limited to, school counselors who are certified to offer such courses. Each
judicial circuit may establish a roster of area course providers, including
those who offer the course on a sliding fee scale or for free.
(b) The costs of such premarital preparation course shall be paid by the
applicant.
(4) Each premarital preparation course provider shall furnish each participant
who completes the course with a certificate of completion specifying
the name of the participant and the date of completion and whether the
course was conducted by personal instruction, videotape instruction, or instruction
via other electronic medium, or by a combination of these methods.
(5) All area course providers shall register with the clerk of the circuit
court by filing an affidavit in writing attesting to the provider�s compliance
with the premarital preparation course requirements as set forth in this
section and including the course instructor�s name and qualifications, including
the license number, if any, or, if an official representative of a
religious institution, a statement as to relevant training. The affidavit shall
also include the addresses where the provider may be contacted.
Section 6. (1) (1) Premarital preparation courses offered and completed
by individuals across the state shall be reviewed by researchers from
the Florida State University Center for Marriage and Family in order to
determine the efficacy of such premarital preparation courses.
(2) Premarital preparation pilot programs may be created by the Florida
State University Center for Marriage and Family, which will be administered
by course providers or by qualified instructors as provided in s.
741.0305(3), Florida Statutes. These pilot programs shall offer a premarital
preparation course based on statistical information and data obtained by
researchers from the Florida State University Center for Marriage and
Family.
(3) The Florida State University Center for Marriage and Family shall
develop a questionnaire and create a curriculum based on data collected by
its researchers. Any curriculum developed by The Florida State University
Center for Marriage and Family researchers shall be the sole property of the
center.
(2) This section shall take effect January 1, 1999.
Section 7. Effective January 1, 1999, section 741.0306, Florida Statutes,
is created to read:
741.0306 Creation of a family law handbook.�
(1) Based upon their willingness to undertake this project, there shall be
created by the Family Law Section of The Florida Bar a handbook explaining
those sections of Florida law pertaining to the rights and responsibilities
under Florida law of marital partners to each other and to their children,
both during a marriage and upon dissolution. The material in the handbook
or other suitable electronic media shall be reviewed for accuracy by the
Family Court Steering Committee of the Florida Supreme Court prior to
publication and distribution.
(2) Such handbooks shall be available from the clerk of the circuit court
upon application for a marriage license. The clerks may also make the
information in the handbook available on videotape or other electronic
media and are encouraged to provide a list of course providers and sites at
which marriage and relationship skill-building classes are available.
(3) The information contained in the handbook or other electronic media
presentation may be reviewed and updated annually, and may include, but
need not be limited to:
(a) Prenuptial agreements; as a contract and as an opportunity to structure
financial arrangements and other aspects of the marital relationship.
(b) Shared parental responsibility for children; the determination of primary
residence or custody and secondary residence or routine visitation,
holiday, summer, and vacation visitation arrangements, telephone access,
and the process for notice for changes.
 (c) Permanent relocation restrictions on parents with primary residential
responsibility.
(d) Child support for minor children; both parents are obligated for support
in accordance with applicable child support guidelines.
(e) Property rights, including equitable distribution, special equity, premarital
property, and nonmarital property.
(f) Alimony, including temporary, permanent rehabilitative, and lump
sum.
(g) Domestic violence and child abuse and neglect, including penalties
and other ramifications of false reporting.
(h) Court process for dissolution with or without legal assistance, including
who may attend, the recording of proceedings, how to access those records,
and the cost of such access.
(i) Parent education course requirements for divorcing parents with children.
(j) Community resources that are available for separating or divorcing
persons and their children.
(k) Women�s rights specified in the Battered Women�s Bill of Rights.
(4) The material contained in such a handbook may also be provided
through videotape or other suitable electronic media. The information contained
in the handbook or other electronic media presentation shall be
reviewed and updated annually.

Section 8. Effective January 1, 1999, section 741.04, Florida Statutes, is
amended to read:
741.04 Marriage license issued.�
(1) No county court judge or clerk of the circuit court in this state shall
issue a license for the marriage of any person unless there shall be first
presented and filed with him or her an affidavit in writing, signed by both
parties to the marriage, providing the social security numbers of each party,
made and subscribed before some person authorized by law to administer
an oath, reciting the true and correct ages of such parties; unless both such
parties shall be over the age of 18 years, except as provided in s. 741.0405;
and unless one party is a male and the other party is a female. Pursuant to
the federal Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation
Act of 1996, each party is required to provide his or her social security
number in accordance with this section. Disclosure of social security numbers
obtained through this requirement shall be limited to the purpose of
administration of the Title IV-D program for child support enforcement.
(2) No county court judge or clerk of the circuit court in this state shall
issue a license for the marriage of any person unless there shall be first
presented and filed with him or her:
 (a) A statement in writing, signed by both parties, which specifies
whether the parties, separately or together, have completed a premarital
preparation course.
(b) A statement that verifies that both parties have obtained and read or
otherwise accessed the information contained in the handbook or other
electronic media presentation of the rights and responsibilities of parties to
a marriage specified in s. 741.0306.
(3) If a couple has not submitted to the clerk valid certificates of completion
of a premarital preparation course, the effective date of the marriage
license shall be delayed 3 days from the date of application. The effective
date shall be printed on the marriage license in bold print. If a couple has
submitted valid certificates of completion of a premarital preparation
course, the effective date of the marriage license shall not be delayed. Exceptions
to the delayed effective date must be granted to non-Florida residents
seeking a marriage license from the state and for individuals asserting
hardship. Marriage license fee waivers shall continue to be available to all
eligible individuals. For state residents, a county court judge issuing a marriage
license may waive the delayed effective date for good cause.
Section 9. (1) When applying for a marriage license, an applicant may
complete and file with the clerk of the circuit court an unsigned anonymous
informational questionnaire which shall be provided by the clerk. The clerk
shall, for purposes of anonymity, keep all such questionnaires in a separate
file for later distribution by the clerk to researchers from The Florida State
University Center for Marriage and Family. These questionnaires must be
made available to researchers from the center at their request. Researchers
from the center shall develop the questionnaire and distribute them to the
clerk of the circuit court in each county.
(2) This section shall take effect January 1, 1999.
Section 10. Effective January 1, 1999, section 741.05, Florida Statutes,
is amended to read:
741.05 Penalty for violation of ss. 741.03, 741.04(1).�Any county court
judge, clerk of the circuit court, or other person who shall violate any provision
of ss. 741.03 and 741.04(1) shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the first
degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
Section 11. Effective January 1, 1999, section 61.043, Florida Statutes,
is amended to read:
61.043 Commencement of a proceeding for dissolution of marriage or for
alimony and child support.�
(1) A proceeding for dissolution of marriage or a proceeding under s.
61.09 shall be commenced by filing in the circuit court a petition entitled "In
re the marriage of ...., husband, and ...., wife." A copy of the petition together
with a copy of a summons shall be served upon the other party to the
marriage in the same manner as service of papers in civil actions generally.
 (2) Upon filing for dissolution of marriage, the petitioner must complete
and file with the clerk of the circuit court an unsigned anonymous informational
questionnaire. For purposes of anonymity, completed questionnaires
must be kept in a separate file for later distribution by the clerk to researchers
from The Florida State University Center for Marriage and Family.
These questionnaires must be made available to researchers from The Florida
State University Center for Marriage and Family at their request. The
actual questionnaire shall be formulated by researchers from Florida State
University who shall distribute them to the clerk of the circuit court in each
county.
Section 12. Effective January 1, 1999, subsection (2) of section 61.052,
Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
61.052 Dissolution of marriage.�
(2) Based on the evidence at the hearing, which evidence need not be
corroborated except to establish that the residence requirements of s. 61.021
are met which may be corroborated by a valid Florida driver�s license, a
Florida voter�s registration card, a valid Florida identification card issued
under ss. 322.051, or the testimony or affidavit of a third party, the court
shall dispose of the petition for dissolution of marriage when the petition is
based on the allegation that the marriage is irretrievably broken as follows:
(a) If there is no minor child of the marriage and if the responding party
does not, by answer to the petition for dissolution, deny that the marriage
is irretrievably broken, the court shall enter a judgment of dissolution of the
marriage if the court finds that the marriage is irretrievably broken.
(b) When there is a minor child of the marriage, or when the responding
party denies by answer to the petition for dissolution that the marriage is
irretrievably broken, the court may:
1. Order either or both parties to consult with a marriage counselor,
psychologist, psychiatrist, minister, priest, rabbi, or any other person
deemed qualified by the court and acceptable to the party or parties ordered
to seek consultation; or
2. Continue the proceedings for a reasonable length of time not to exceed
3 months, to enable the parties themselves to effect a reconciliation; or
3. Take such other action as may be in the best interest of the parties and
the minor child of the marriage.
If, at any time, the court finds that the marriage is irretrievably broken, the
court shall enter a judgment of dissolution of the marriage. If the court finds
that the marriage is not irretrievably broken, it shall deny the petition for
dissolution of marriage.
Section 13. Effective January 1, 1999, section 61.21, Florida Statutes, is
amended to read:
61.21 Parenting course authorized; fees; required attendance authorized;
contempt.�
 (1) LEGISLATIVE FINDINGS; PURPOSE.�It is the finding of the Legislature
that:
(a) A large number of children experience the separation or divorce of
their parents each year. Parental conflict related to divorce is a societal
concern because children suffer potential short-term and long-term detrimental
economic, emotional, and educational effects during this difficult
period of family transition. This is particularly true when parents engage
in lengthy legal conflict.
(b) Parents are more likely to consider the best interests of their children
when determining parental arrangements if courts provide families with
information regarding the process by which courts make decisions on issues
affecting their children and suggestions as to how parents may ease the
coming adjustments in family structure for their children.
(c) It has been found to be beneficial to parents who are separating or
divorcing to have available an educational program that will provide general
information regarding:
1. The issues and legal procedures for resolving custody and child support
disputes.
2. The emotional experiences and problems of divorcing adults.
3. The family problems and the emotional concerns and needs of the
children.
4. The availability of community services and resources.
(d) Parents who are separating or divorcing are more likely to receive
maximum benefit from a program if they attend such program at the earliest
stages of their dispute, before extensive litigation occurs and adversarial
positions are assumed or intensified.
(2)(1) All judicial circuits in the state shall may approve a parenting
course which shall be a course of a minimum of 4 hours designed to educate,
train, and assist divorcing parents in regard to the consequences of divorce
on parents and children.
(a) The parenting course referred to in this section shall be named the
Parent Education and Family Stabilization Course and may include, but
need not be limited to, the following topics as they relate to court actions
between parents involving custody, care, visitation, and support of a child
or children:
1. Legal aspects of deciding child-related issues between parents.
2. Emotional aspects of separation and divorce on adults.
3. Emotional aspects of separation and divorce on children.
4. Family relationships and family dynamics.
5. Financial responsibilities to a child or children.
6. Issues regarding spousal or child abuse and neglect.
7. Skill-based relationship education that may be generalized to parenting,
workplace, school, neighborhood, and civic relationships.
(b) Information regarding spousal and child abuse and neglect shall be
included in every parent education and family stabilization course. A list of
local agencies that provide assistance with such issues shall also be pro-vided.
(c) The parent education and family stabilization course shall be educational
in nature and shall not be designed to provide individual mental
health therapy for parents or children, or individual legal advice to parents
or children.
(d) Course providers shall not solicit participants from the sessions they
conduct to become private clients or patients.
(e) Course providers shall not give individual legal advice or mental
health therapy.
(3)(2) All parties to a dissolution of marriage proceeding with minor
children or a paternity action which involves issues of parental responsibility
shall or a modification of a final judgment action involving shared parental
responsibilities, custody, or visitation may be required to complete the
Parent Education and Family Stabilization a court-approved parenting
Course prior to the entry by the court of a final judgment or order modifying
the final judgment. The court may excuse a party from attending the parenting
course for good cause.
(4)(3) All parties required to complete a parenting course under this
section shall begin the course as expeditiously as possible after filing for
dissolution of marriage and shall file proof of compliance with the court prior
to the entry of the final judgment or order modifying the final judgment.
(5) All parties to a modification of a final judgment involving shared
parental responsibilities, custody, or visitation may be required to complete
a court-approved parenting course prior to the entry of an order modifying
the final judgment.
(6) Each judicial circuit may establish a registry of course providers and
sites at which the parent education and family stabilization course required
by this section may be completed. The court shall also include within the
registry of course providers and sites at least one site in each circuit at which
the parent education and family stabilization course may be completed on
a sliding fee scale, if available.
(7)(4) A reasonable fee may be charged to each parent attending the
course.
(8)(5) Information obtained or statements made by the parties at any
educational session required under this statute shall not be considered in
the adjudication of a pending or subsequent action, nor shall any report
resulting from such educational session become part of the record of the case
unless the parties have stipulated in writing to the contrary.
(9)(6) The court may hold any parent who fails to attend a required
parenting course in contempt or that parent may be denied shared parental
responsibility or visitation or otherwise sanctioned as the court deems appropriate.
(10)(7) Nothing in this section shall be construed to require the parties
to a dissolution of marriage to attend a court-approved parenting course
together.
(11) The court may, without motion of either party, prohibit the parenting
course from being taken together, if there is a history of domestic violence
between the parties.
Section 14. Effective January 1, 1999, paragraph (d) is added to subsection
(1) of section 28.101, Florida Statutes, to read:
28.101 Petitions and records of dissolution of marriage; additional
charges.�
(1) When a party petitions for a dissolution of marriage, in addition to the
filing charges in s. 28.241, the clerk shall collect and receive:
(d) A charge of $32.50. On a monthly basis the clerk shall transfer the
moneys collected pursuant to this paragraph as follows:
1. An amount of $7.50 to the State Treasury for deposit in the Displaced
Homemaker Trust Fund.
2. An amount of $25 to the Supreme Court for deposit in the Family
Courts Trust Fund.
Section 15. Effective January 1, 1999, section 25.388, Florida Statutes,
is amended to read:
25.388 Family Courts Trust Fund.�
(1)(a) The trust fund moneys in the Family Courts Trust Fund, administered
by the Supreme Court, shall be used to implement family court plans
in all judicial circuits of this state.
(b) The Supreme Court, through the Office of the State Courts Administrator,
shall adopt a comprehensive plan for the operation of the trust fund
and the expenditure of any moneys deposited into the trust fund. The plan
shall provide for a comprehensive integrated response to families in litigation,
including domestic violence matters, guardian ad litem programs, mediation
programs, legal support, training, automation, and other related
costs incurred to benefit the citizens of the state and the courts in relation
to family law cases. The trust fund shall be used to fund the publication of
the handbook created pursuant to s. 741.0306.
(2) As part of its comprehensive plan, the Supreme Court shall evaluate
the necessity for an installment plan or a waiver for any or all of the fees
based on financial necessity and report such findings to the Legislature.
(3) The trust fund shall be funded with moneys generated from fees
assessed pursuant to ss. 28.101 and s. 741.01(4).
Section 16. Effective January 1, 1999, there is hereby appropriated in
fiscal year 1998-1999 the sum of $75,000 from the General Revenue Fund
to the Florida State University Center for Marriage and Family for review
of premarital preparation courses, development of premarital preparation
pilot programs, and development of a questionnaire and creation of a curriculum
based on data collected by its researchers.
: Words striken are deletions; words underlined are additions.

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