Louisiana has a unique matrimonial option for couples who want to foster a higher standard of commitment in their relationships. A “covenant marriage” seeks to ensure that the relationship is not entered into lightly or ended precipitously.
The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals says that to be considered a covenant marriage, both parties must sign a “declaration of intent.”
This document essentially states that:
- They agree to remain husband and wife for the rest of their lives.
- They have carefully chosen each other as spouses.
- They have shared anything that might cause the other person to reconsider.
- They have obtained premarital counseling from a qualified religious clergyman or professional counselor.
- They are committed to making all reasonable efforts to protect their marriage, including obtaining counseling if they encounter relational problems.
After meeting with their clergyman or counselor, the couple is required to sign an “affidavit and attestation form,” showing that they understand the implications and responsibilities associated with such a serious and lifelong commitment.
A covenant marriage strongly discourages divorce. If a couple does decide to end their marriage, they must meet much stricter requirements.
For instance, in a traditional marriage, a couple may obtain a divorce simply by proving that they have lived separately for six months before or after filing for marital dissolution. In a covenant marriage, the couple must first seek counseling. If that fails, they must prove that they have lived separately for two years. (The required time is slightly shorter if they have already obtained a legal separation.)
To learn more about Louisiana’s marriage and divorce laws, consider consulting an experienced family law attorney.