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Florida legislature passes law forbidding foreign law in family court

The Florida legislature passed a bill that would prevent judges from applying foreign law in family law matters in the state.

On April 30, 2014, the Florida House of Representatives passed a bill that would prevent Florida courts from applying foreign laws in family law matters. The Senate had passed a similar bill days earlier. The bill is awaiting Gov. Rick Scott’s signature. While some argue that the bill protects the rights of all parties in Florida courts, others claim that the legislation is an attack on Muslims in the state.

Banning foreign law in Florida

The bill that the legislature sent to the governor would prohibit Florida courts from applying any foreign laws, legal codes or doctrines in divorce, child custody or child support cases. If both parties wish to apply foreign laws in one of these cases, the judge would need to review the law to ensure that both parties would be afforded the same rights as the Florida and U.S. Constitutions provide.

The legislation specifically limits the ban on foreign law to family law matters. Contracts between businesses, matters where federal law supersedes state law and ecclesiastical matters are not affected by the bill.

Criticisms of the legislation

Supporters of the bill claim that it protects the rights of all parties who come before Florida courts in family law matters, as some foreign laws do not give as many rights to women as they do to men. Critics of the bill claim that the measure is a thinly-veiled attack on Florida’s Muslims and Sharia law. They argue that the law is unnecessary since judges already have the authority to apply Florida and U.S. laws in their courtrooms, rather than foreign laws.

Others note that Jews in the state could suffer because of the bill, as it might prevent the recognition of divorces granted in Israel under rabbinical law.

Consult a lawyer

Even without the added complication of applying foreign laws, divorce and child custody matters can be complex. Given that outcomes in these matters vary widely based on each family’s specific circumstances, it is important for those involved in divorce or child custody matters in Florida to seek the input of an experienced Florida family law attorney to help them navigate the state’s legal system. A skilled attorney can help ensure that the law is applied fairly and in a manner that promotes the family’s best interests. If you have questions about divorce or child custody in Florida, talk to a seasoned Florida family law attorney who can help ease you through the transitions associated with these issues.

Keywords: divorce; child custody; child support

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Attorney Michael R. Leininger began his legal career in real estate law and commercial law serving small businesses in a variety of ways.

Known for his rigorous attention to detail and his commitment to being overly-accessible at all times, he is a lawyer with unwavering honesty, fairness and integrity.

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