Have you ever considered a “covenant marriage” or have you wondered what is it all about? Well, today we are looking deeper into the “Covenant Marriage”.
First of all, what is it and why would anyone have one? A Covenant marriage is a vow taken to follow stricter guidelines in the case of a divorce. It makes divorce much more difficult to file for. To date, there are only three states that allow them, Arizona, Arkansas and Louisiana. There are several reasons you are allowed for divorce but no-fault isn’t one of them. Let’s take a look at how this works.
The way a covenant marriage works in Louisiana is that first, the couple must sign a Declaration of Intent. In this agreement the couple agrees to live together forever as husband and wife. They must claim to have chosen each other carefully and have fully disclosed everything that could adversely affect one another in their decision to marry. They must receive premarital counseling from a clergy member of any religion or from a professional marriage counselor. They must also agree to make a commitment that if they experience marital difficulties they will use all reasonable efforts to preserve their marriage, including counseling.
Next, they must sign an Affidavit and Attestation form. This form is a notarized affidavit provided by the counselor confirming that the counselor has gone over the profound implications of covenant marriage. The understanding that marriage is for life and their obligation to seek counseling if problems should arise in their marriage. They also must acknowledge that they received the pamphlet “Covenant Marriage Act” which is published by the Attorney General. Both the Declaration of Intent and the Recitation and the Affidavit of Attestation must be presented to the official issuing the marriage license along with the application for the marriage license.
So now that we see all that a couple must go through to get into one, let’s take a look at how difficult it is to get out of one.
The couple may only seek divorce after receiving counseling and may only divorce for the following reasons:
Adultery by the other spouse.
Commission of a felony by the other spouse and a sentence of imprisonment at hard labor or death.
Abandonment by the other spouse for one year.
Physical or sexual abuse of the spouse or child of either spouse.
The spouses have lived separate and apart for two years or the spouses have lived apart during a legal separation for one year and six months if there is a minor child in the marriage. One year if the separation was granted for abuse of a child of either spouse.
Although Louisiana was the first state to pass Covenant marriage in 1997, they have been around a long time. France debated this in 1947. It was designed with the idea that if couples went through counseling during troubled times then they would be less likely to get a divorce.
During the first year of Covenant marriages in Louisiana only one percent of newlyweds chose this option and it seems that it is still around one percent today. In Arizona only a quarter choose a Covenant marriage and in Arkansas, where they have one of the highest rates of divorce, the percentage is even smaller. Only 67 of 37,942 marriages chose this and 24 of them were already married but converted to this option.
The main purpose of offering a Covenant Marriage is to restore the sanctity of marriage hoping to bring the world back to the understanding that marriage is a lifetime commitment in the eyes of God. It is based on the way the Bible looks at marriage which is to stay together unless there is a biblical reason for divorce. So if you live in one of the states that offer this type of marriage you now have a better understanding of another option you may want to consider when you get married.