When two people choose to get married, they make a commitment to each other to love, serve, and protect each other until death do them part. In Louisiana, an even greater commitment is allowed wherein a couple can choose to enter what is called a “covenant marriage.” In a covenant marriage, the two parties agree to additional stipulations that are specific to Louisiana’s legal definition of what makes a covenant marriage. First, they must agree to seek marital counseling if issues arise within their marriage. Secondly, they agree that they can only seek a divorce or separation in a certain number of circumstances, and only in those cases. A covenant marriage is intended to make divorce and/or separation difficult, and its intention under the law is to make no-fault divorces less accessible to couples who wish to undertake such an endeavor.
How Does One Get A Covenant Marriage?
First, the couple must sign a Declaration of Intent. This declaration includes the following:
- Agreement to live as husband and wife forever
- Agreement that the choice to marry has been made carefully, and any and all things that may adversely affect the marriage have been discussed between the parties at length
- Agreement that both have received premarital counseling
- Agreement that if problems arise in their marriage, they both will make a great effort to preserve their marriage, include counseling
- Agreement that the couple will get counseling from a clergyman of their religious sect or professional counselor
Secondly, the couple signs an Affidavit and Attestation form. This form is signed by the counselor that gave the counseling to the couple and notarized confirming that the following topics were discussed with the couple:
- The major implications of a covenant marriage
- Explanation that this marriage is a long-term, life-long commitment
- The responsibility of the couple to seek marital counseling if issues occur within the marriage
- Acknowledgment that both parties have received the pamphlet titled “Covenant Marriage Act”
Once a couple receives this type of marriage, divorce is intentionally difficult to achieve. If a couple within a covenant marriage wishes to get a divorce, they must first receive marital counseling as agreed upon. Once that is completed and if the couple still wish to seek a divorce, there are only certain reasons in which a legal divorce will be given.
- Adultery by either spouse
- Felony conviction by either spouse with a sentence of hard labor or death
- Desertion by one spouse for at least one year and refuses to return
- Physical or sexual abuse of either spouse or child of either spouse
- The couple has lived separate for two years OR the spouses are judicially separated (a judicial declaration of bed and board is only allowed in covenant marriages and only for specific reasons) and have lived apart since that separation for the following amount of time:
- One year and six months if the couple have a minor child
- One year if the separation was granted due to abuse
A covenant marriage is a type of marriage where both parties agree to a common goal of marriage with no intent on divorce. Those within a covenant marriage agree to receive extensive counseling when problems arise in hopes of resolving their conflicts and saving their marriage. For this reason, the state of Louisiana makes it extremely difficult to get a divorce in these types of marriages. However, that does not mean that there are no protections for extenuating circumstances. In certain cases, a divorce can be attained, but it is recognized as a last resort. The goal of these marriages is to commit to a life-long love over all else.
If you have any questions about receiving a covenant marriage, divorce, or any other family matter, contact the knowledgeable staff at Latiolais Law Firm. The law experts are ready to answer your questions and help you find a legal solution.