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Florida House Passes So-Called “Anti-Sharia” Bill

533138_law_and_order sxchu.jpgLast week, the Florida House passed a bill which would ban all courts in the state from considering foreign or religious law in legal decisions and contract disputes. Despite passionate opposition from a variety of religious activist groups as well as two Jewish lawmakers, House Bill 1209 passed with a vote of 92-24. Although approximately 50 witnesses were on hand Tuesday to provide statements against the bill, lawmakers chose not to allow their testimony and instead went straight to the floor for a vote.

Critics refer to House Bill 1209 as the “anti-Sharia” bill in reference to religious based Islamic law. Although the bill was passed by a wide margin, Representatives Jim Waldman of Coconut Creek and Elaine Schwartz of Hollywood strongly opposed the bill. Representative Schwartz stated thousands of her constituents wrote to her expressing their concern over the measure. Because the bill would ensure Florida law trumps religious or foreign law in family law cases such as divorce and child custody disputes, she also expressed worry regarding how the law would affect divorces mediated by Jewish tribunals.

The bill, titled “Application of Foreign Law in Certain Cases,” was sponsored by Representative Larry Metz of Eustis who stated the proposed law was designed to prevent Florida courts from upholding Islamic law as has recently occurred in other parts of the country. He also stated he believes the law is fair because it applies to every foreign and religious law equally. Representative Metz cited increasing economic internationalization as an additional factor behind the law. He sponsored a similar ball last year.

Carin Marie Porras, chair-elect of the Florida Bar Association’s Family Law Section, believes the proposed law impairs the rights of Florida citizens. She stated Florida courts do not currently consider foreign laws that contradict public policy. The law’s effect on divorce and family law has the potential to be widespread. Before the bill becomes law, it must be approved by the Florida Senate. An identical Senate Bill 1360 is now under consideration by state lawmakers.

Each year many Americans find themselves in the midst of divorce proceedings. The range of emotions associated with the end of a marriage can feel overwhelming. The financial damage that can accompany a divorce can also be devastating. If you find yourself faced divorce, you owe it to yourself to consult with a qualified divorce attorney to help you protect your financial and other interests. An experienced divorce attorney will discuss your options with you and help you file your case.

Contact Sandy T. Fox, a skilled Fort Lauderdale divorce lawyer, if you have questions about family law or divorce. Mr. Fox focuses his practice exclusively on family law matters in Florida. To schedule a confidential consultation, contact Sandy T. Fox through his website or call him at (800) 596-0579.

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Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Maxine Cohen Lando Passes Away, Fort Lauderdale Divorce Lawyer Blog, February 29, 2012
Miami-Dade Circuit Family Division Judge Julio Jimenez Dies at Age 58, Fort Lauderdale Divorce Lawyer Blog, January 20, 2012
Additional Resources:

Florida House passes ‘anti-Sharia’ bill despite protests, by Brittan Alana Davis, The Miami Herald