new florida laws

January 2018 – Florida Legislative Report

It has been a busy first week legislative session in Florida for several family law bills that have been proposed in both House and Senate.

Surprisingly, it is still legal for teens under the age of 18 to be married in Florida, but that may change with a new bill that has already breezed through committees to the Senate floor.

SB 140, sponsored by Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, R-Naples, has easily passed through the Judiciary; Children, Family and Elder Affairs; and rules committees in unanimous votes. The bill states that a marriage license may not be issued to a person under the age of 18.

The bill would also mandate that parties to a marriage file a written and signed affidavit with the county court judge or clerk of the circuit before a clerk can issue a marriage license. Each party would also have to provide his or her social security number for purposed of child support enforcement. If approved, the bill would take effect July 1.

Here are some other family law bills making their way through committee:

  • Dependency: HB 505, co-sponsored by Rep. Rick Roth, R-Palm Beach Gardens, and Rep. Patricia Williams, D-Fort Lauderdale, is now in front of the Civil Justice & Claims subcommittee. It has also been referred to the Judiciary committee. The bill provides parameters for unmarried biological fathers to establish their parental rights to a child, as well as eliminations of those rights if they fail to comply with requirements the bill would establish. If approved, it would take effect Oct. 1.


  • Marital Assets: HB 639 filed by House Rep. Daniel Perez, R-Miami, moved forward passing favorably out of the Civil Justice & Claims Subcommittee and is now in the Judiciary committee. The bill seeks to add to the list of potential marital assets and liabilities the paying down of notes and mortgages secured by non-marital property if marital assets are used to do so. And to account for “passive appreciation”, which is the increasing of value of property by virtue of something like an uptick in the economy during which a piece of real estate may gain value as the market improves. The bill also provides formulas and guidelines for judges to determine the amount of “such passive appreciation.” The proposed legislation would also authorize the courts to require security and “reasonable rate of interest” when installment payments are ordered by the courts upon a party. If approved, it would be effect July 1.


  • Parental Rights: HB 737 filed by Florida House Rep. Ross Spano, R-Riverview, is a bill we reported on that has been withdrawn. The bill would have expanded the grounds for terminating parental rights to include conviction for sexual battery.


  • Deployed Parent Custody: HB 1217, sponsored by Larry Metz, R-Groveland, is in front of the Civil Justice & Claims Subcommittee and has been referred to the Judiciary and Local, Federal, & Veterans Affairs committees. The bill would establish the “Uniform Deployed Parents Custody and Visitation Act”. The bill provides parameters for establishing child custody for deployed servicemen and women. The bill would also set up requirements for agreement forms, termination of agreements, modifications, and power of attorney concerning children of those deployed. If approved, it would take effect July 1.


  • Marriage: HB 1323, co-sponsored by Clay Yarborough, R-Jacksonville, is in front of the Civil Justice & Claims Subcommittee, and has been referred to the Judiciary and Children, Families & Seniors Subcommittee. It would create what would be known as the “Marriage Education Committee” which will be charged with reviewing and revising the Florida Guide to a Healthy Marriage. It would also prohibit issuance of marriage licenses until petitioners verify both parties have obtained the guide. If approved, the bill would take effect July 1.


We will continue to follow the 2018 legislative closely and provide updates on bills concerning family law. Stay tuned.


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