Florida's Marriage and Family Support Initiatives

A Good Idea

This practice has been Archived and is no longer maintained.


In 1998 the Florida state legislature passed the Marriage Preparation and Preservation Act. The act mandates that couples applying for a marriage license must sign a statement saying that they have read the Florida Bar Association's handbook on marriage rights and responsibilities. It also empowers judges to require couples with children to take a Parent Education and Family Stabilization course upon filing for divorce. In addition, the act requires all high school students in the state to complete one-half credit in life management skills, which includes marriage and relationship skill-based education, before graduation. While other states have youth education programs, Florida is the only state where these programs are mandatory. In 2003 the legislature established a Commission on Marriage and Family Support Initiatives (which replaced the Florida Commission on Responsible Fatherhood) to oversee and coordinate the state's marriage and family strengthening activities.

Goal / Mission

The goal of this program is to provide comprehensive statewide strategies for Florida to promote violence-free, substance-abuse-free, respectful, nurturing families based on the foundation of a healthy marriage relationship between parents.

Results / Accomplishments

In 2003 the Department of Children & Families commissioned the University of Florida to conduct a baseline survey of attitudes, beliefs and demographics related to marriage and family formation. Survey data were collected via telephone interviews with a representative sample of state residents. The findings from the survey were published in December 2003 and used to inform the state's marriage and family strengthening activities.

In June 2003, the Governor and Department of Children & Families held a series of conferences on the value of marriage and its connection to child well-being. Participants included members of the media, businesses, educational institutions, state agencies, and faith and community-based organizations. The conferences were designed to educate opinion leaders on the rationale for and benefits of family and marriage strengthening efforts in the state.

In October 2003, Florida launched three pilot projects to test marriage and family strengthening interventions for couples and families in the child welfare system. The pilot projects will train staff of public and private human service agencies, faith-based organizations and local child welfare agencies and their subcontractors to provide couples therapy, referrals and case management. The Department of Children & Families also collaborates with community-based organizations, youth development organizations, universities and others to integrate healthy marriage services and referrals into existing service delivery programs.

About this Promising Practice

Primary Contact
No current contact information available
Social Environment / Family Structure
Government & Politics / Programs, Policies, & Laws
The Department of Children & Families
Finance Project
Date of publication
Jun 2004
Target Audience

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