Covenant marriage is when the marrying parties pledge to stay together for the remainder of their lives. It does, however, allow for divorce covenant marriage in a restricted number of circumstances, which are as follows:
- one spouse’s infidelity,
- a spouse’s physical or sexual abuse of the other spouse or a child,
- a spouse’s felony,
- a spouse’s use of illegal substances, and
- both couples living separately for one or two years are among the exceptions.
Premarital counseling will be provided before the wedding, and marital counseling will be provided if the couple is considering divorce.
There are only two sorts of weddings in Arizona: covenant and non-covenant marriages. Covenant marriages were not lawful in the state until they were codified and made a law on August 21, 1998.
Before joining into a covenant marriage, there are additional prerequisites. There are constraints if the couple later decides to divorce, whereas a couple who enters a non-covenant marriage can divorce or split without cause.
What Is a Covenant Marriage?
Three states in the United States allow covenant marriages. They are Arizona, Arkansas, and Louisiana.
Couples might agree to limit the grounds for divorce in their marriage under covenant marriage rules. If the couple decides on a covenant marriage, they must seek marriage counseling before the wedding. A conversion to a covenant marriage can be obtained for couples who are already married.
The majority of people join into covenant marriages for religious grounds. Before entering into a covenant marriage, however, both partners must be aware of the full scope of their commitment.
What Are Ways To Enter Into a Covenant Marriage?
You have the option of getting into a covenant marriage if you live in the states of Arizona, Arkansas, or Louisiana. To form a covenant marriage, you must file an affidavit of counseling completion with the Clerk of the Court and undergo counseling from a marriage counselor or clergyman.
When you file for your marriage license, you must also sign a statement recognizing your intent to join a covenant marriage.
If you’re married and want to convert to a covenant marriage, you can do so by paying a fee and filling out a Declaration of Intent to enter into a covenant marriage, including a sworn statement with your personal information and the date and location of your wedding. The Clerk of the Court must receive the fee and the completed Declaration.
Apart from the conditions mentioned above for entering into a covenant marriage, another distinguishing feature is that the court can only issue divorce or legal separation in a limited number of circumstances. Because of the high divorce rate in our country, supporters of covenant marriages argued that making divorce more difficult would be a good thing.
For example, reasons for a covenant marriage’s divorce or legal separation include, but are not limited to:
- Commission of a felony
- Abuse of drugs or alcohol
- If the couple has been living apart for two years, or
- If the couple has been legally separated for at least a year before filing for divorce,
Divorce can be a challenging process to go through, and if you’re in a covenant marriage, there are a few additional standards to meet.
Advantages of Covenant of Marriage
There are various advantages of the covenant of marriage which are as follows:
- The covenant approach to marriage has several advantages. The first is that it provides security. It will provide security if you and your partner both realize you’re in it for a long time and will stick together through the highs and lows. Because we are protected, we become more real and transparent when we are secure. Greater emotional intimacy leads to increased sexual activity as a result of increased transparency and safety.
- A second advantage of the covenant method is that you will handle conflicts much better than you would in a contract marriage.
In a contract marriage, you’re miserable throughout the winter because you’ll already have one foot out the door thinking about divorce, which means the motivation to work through marital problems is lowered if one foot is already out the door. If you’re in a covenant marriage and you’re unhappy throughout the winter, you’ll ask yourself if adultery, abuse, or abandonment is taking place, and if it isn’t, you won’t be able to divorce.
As a result, the only way to tackle the difficulties is to dig deeper and work harder. Because divorce is not an option, you may require outside assistance and resources.
- Personal growth is the third advantage of a covenant marriage. When you’re in a covenant marriage, difficult circumstances become opportunities to build your character. For example, perhaps you’re having difficulties in your marriage because you haven’t yet learned how to share power. You prefer to do things your way, which is causing friction in your marriage.
Learning to share power is a good way to improve your character. If you were in a contract marriage, you’d probably just get a divorce because of the fighting and carry on your pattern of not sharing power into your next relationship.
Another example is if your marriage is going through a hard patch because you’re not very empathic and your partner is constantly irritated by you. Because divorce is not an option if you see marriage as a covenant, your partner’s complaints are an opportunity to enhance your character by being more compassionate.
If you considered marriage as a contract, you’d probably get a divorce to get out of the marital strife and then carry on with your pattern of lack of empathy in your next relationship. Sticking it out through the inevitable ups and downs of marriage allows you to get feedback and improve as a person and partner.
Start perceiving your marriage as a covenant if your partner is understandable and ready to improve your relationship, and you want to reap the benefits of enhanced emotional and physical closeness, higher motivation to settle issues, and possibilities for personal growth.
Covenant Marriage Laws
The decline in marriage stability in the United States has been severe. According to a survey published by the CENSUS BUREAU in 2002, over half of all first marriages result in divorce. After most states enacted no-fault divorce laws, which made it much easier for married couples to break their marriage contracts, the divorce rate began to climb in the 1960s and surged in the 1970s.
By the 1990s, a tiny but outspoken group claimed that divorce was too simple. Previous generations of husbands and spouses had figured out how to solve their problems and keep their relationships together. Divorce regulations in place at the time permitted spouses to end a marriage at the first sign of difficulties.
These concerns prompted Louisiana to pass the country’s first covenant marriage laws in 1997. The law created two types of marriages in the state: conventional marriage contracts with fewer formalities for formation and dissolution and covenant marriages with more strict standards for entering and quitting a marriage.
Covenant marriage supporters regarded it as a method to strengthen marriages and families. Opponents raised their reservations. They were worried by the establishment of a marital contract with religious overtones—in Christianity, the word covenant refers to a commitment between a man and God. Critics also pointed out that the increased standards would come with more expenditures.
For couples who desire to join into a covenant marriage, the law stipulates three important requirements:
- the pair must legally agree to attend marital counseling if problems arise throughout the marriage; and
- only certain circumstances allow the couple to seek a divorce or legal separation.
Premarital therapy by a priest, pastor, rabbi, clergyman of any religious denomination, or a professional marriage counselor is also required before getting a covenant marriage certificate.
For premarital counseling to be accepted by the state, the couple must sign a notarized affidavit, attested by the counselor, stating that
- the importance of a covenant marriage has been highlighted by the counselor;
- the commitment to the marriage is a lifelong commitment;
- If problems occur in the marriage, the couples will fulfill their commitment to seek marital counseling; and
- they received an informational guide on the legal requirements of covenant marriage.
When the couple submits both the affidavit and a signed statement of intent to engage in a covenant marriage, the state issues a marriage license.
A husband and wife are expected to commit to a lifetime partnership once they marry. The law, on the other hand, understands that some couples will want to divorce or split. The covenant marriage requirements compel a spouse to seek counseling before proving one or more of the statute’s reasons for separation or divorce.
Further, Arkansas’ covenant marriage law (Covenant Marriage Act of 2001) was enacted in 2001. Between 1999 and 2002, at least 16 other state legislatures considered bills but did not pass them.
Difference Between a Covenant Marriage and a Non-covenant Marriage
A covenant marriage differs from a non-covenant marriage in two ways:
- covenant marriages require premarital therapy and counseling before filing for divorce
- covenant spouses may only seek legal separation or divorce for certain grounds
In conclusion, evidence of any of the circumstances outlined above for legal separation will suffice to get a divorce from a covenant marriage.
Further, we conclude the following:
- Covenant marriage is when the marrying parties pledge to stay together for the remainder of their lives. It does, however, allow for divorce covenant marriage in a restricted number of circumstances.
- Three states in the United States allow covenant marriages. They are Arizona, Arkansas, and Louisiana.
- If the couple decides on a covenant marriage, they must seek marriage counseling before the wedding. A conversion to a covenant marriage can be obtained for couples who are already married.
- When you file for your marriage license, you must also sign a statement recognizing your intent to join a covenant marriage.
- For a legal separation, evidence of any of the circumstances will suffice. The parties may also get a divorce if they: have lived separate and apart for two years; have lived separate and apart for one year after a legal separation order has been entered; or mutually agree to end the marriage.
- A covenant marriage differs from a non-covenant marriage in two major ways: (1) Covenant marriages necessitate premarital therapy as well as counseling before filing for divorce; and (2) covenant spouses may only seek legal separation or divorce for certain grounds.
We hope that you can now make legally informed choices when it comes to a covenant marriage.
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