Florida should make marriage laws stricter

The once very powerful two-word phrase, “I do,” seems to have lost its weight in the United States. Couples are pledging their love and devotion to each other by committing to a marriage, but when it doesn’t work out, they just divorce and sometimes remarry someone else.

According to Newsweek, America has the highest divorce and remarriage rate in the world.

Since these actions have diverse negative effects on children, the state of Florida needs to alter the marriage, divorce and remarriage laws to demand more from individuals who wish to engage in these acts.

According to the Hillsborough Clerk of the Circuit Court, both parties wanting to marry must be 18 years of age, provide identification such as a state ID, a Social Security Number if U.S. citizens, an Alien Registration number if not U.S. citizens, a completed application and records of previous marriages. In addition there is a $93.50 nonrefundable fee for the marriage license.

The divorce process in Florida is simple. The only requirement is that at least one person in that marriage has been a Florida resident for at least six months prior to filing for divorce. The fee ranges from $400-$500, depending on whether the divorce is contested or uncontested, and if the couple agrees on the division of their assets.

The problem with all these lenient laws is the consequences on the family. The children suffer when the parents divorce. Once the parent marries someone else, the child has to adapt to a new environment.

Andrew Cherlin, a sociologist at Johns Hopkins University and author of The Marriage-Go-Round wrote, “We divorce, repartner, and remarry faster than people in any other country.”

In his book, Cherlin analyzes a study that compared Swedish and American kids. The study found that American children born to married couples had 6 percent more household disruption by age 15 than Swedish children with unmarried parents.

Also, by the same age, American children experienced a 40 percent divorce rate in the home compared to 30 percent for Swedish children. American kids were also 47 percent more likely than Swedish children to experience a remarriage in the household within three years of a divorce.

Children learn from their surrounding, so experiencing divorce and remarriage in their home may make them more likely to divorce and remarry. Education on the unity of marriage and consequences of divorce and remarriage is something that the state of Florida needs to offer children and families.

Couples should be required to take marriage classes before being given a marriage license. In addition, there should be a waiting period from the time a couple files for the license to when they actually receive it. During this time, if couples decide to cancel the application, the fee should be refunded.

Time is the best solution, because it offers people the opportunity to decide if marriage is actually the best option. By providing the license on the same day the couple applies, the state hinders the individuals’ chance to make sure marriage is what they want.

Jennifer Baker of Forest Institute of Professional Psychology studieid the divorce rates for first, second and third marriages.

Baker found that first marriages have a 50 percent divorce rate, second marriages have 67 percent rate and third marriages come in at 74 percent. By comparison, this staggering rate is actually a lot higher than the percentage of Americans getting a college education.

In this tough economy, taxes and other financial advantages may encourage some people to get married and remarry faster.

Married couples enjoy more benefits from the state and also can share bills such as the rent, utilities and child expenses. The state should provide more assistance to single parents because there is a chance they may remarry simply for financial benefits.

People should be held accountable for the vows they recite during their marriage ceremony. “Till death do us part” should be a commitment to each other and should not be broken for petty reasons. People should think long and hard before marrying, divorcing or remarrying because of all the consequences that come with these acts.

Xhenis Berberi is a senior majoring in political science and economics.