Proposed Family Law Legislation Fails to Move Forward in Florida Senate

Proposed legislation that would have altered Florida family law failed to move forward during this year’s legislative session. Senate Bill 58 and House Bill 351 would have prohibited the application of foreign law to Florida family law disputes, unless the foreign law granted the “same” protections and rights as Florida and U.S. law. SB 58 stalled in the Florida Senate.

According to bill sponsor state Sen. Alan Hays, R-Umatilla, the law would have prevented Americans from having their rights violated by foreign law. Gov. Rick Scott released a statement in support of the bill, saying it would make it clear that citizens’ constitutional rights would be protected. However, opponents maintained that the bill was unnecessary because rights and protections are already directly guaranteed by the U.S. and Florida Constitutions.

Opponents of the bill were also concerned that it would tarnish Florida’s reputation as a center for international dispute resolution and unnecessarily complicate Florida divorces for foreign couples residing in the state, for instance if the couple had an antenuptial agreement holding that foreign law would apply in the event of a divorce.

The bill was opposed by the American Bar Association, the International Law Section of the Florida Bar, the Anti-Defamation League, the American Civil Liberties Union, and several other civic, religious and professional organizations.

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