Contracting a Covenant Marriage

The couple choosing to enter into a Covenant Marriage agrees to be bound by two serious limitations on obtaining a divorce or separation. These limitations do not apply to other couples married in Louisiana:

  1. The couple legally agrees to seek martial counseling if problems develop during the marriage; and
  2. The couple can only seek a divorce or legal separation for limited reasons, as explained herein.
Declaration of Intent

In order to enter into a Covenant Marriage, the couple must sign a recitation that provides:

  • A marriage is an agreement to live together as husband and wife forever;
  • The parties have chosen each other carefully and disclosed to each other "everything which could adversely affect" the decision to marry;
  • The parties have received premarital counseling;
  • A commitment that if the parties experience marital difficulties they commit to take all reasonable efforts to preserve their marriage, including marital counseling; and
  • The couple must also obtain premarital counseling from a priest, minister, rabbi or similar clergyman of any religious sect, or a professional marriage counselor.

After discussing the meaning of a Covenant Marriage with the counselor, the couple must also sign, together with an attestation by the counselor, or notarized affidavit to the effect that the counselor has discussed with them:

  • The seriousness of a Covenant Marriage;
  • That the commitment to the marriage is for life;
  • The obligation of the couple to seek marital counseling if problems arise in the marriage; and
  • That they have received the informational pamphlet published by the Attorney General entitled "Covenant Marriage Act."

The two documents which comprise the "Declaration of Intent" - the recitation and the affidavit with attestation - must be presented to the official who issues the marriage license with the couple's application for a marriage license.

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Legal Separation in a Covenant Marriage

In order to obtain a legal separation (which is not a divorce and therefore does not end the marriage), a spouse in a Covenant Marriage must first obtain counseling and then must prove:

  • 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 of a child of either spouse;
  • The spouses have lived separate and apart for two years; or
  • Habitual intemperance (for example, alcohol or drug abuse), cruel treatment, or severe ill treatment by the other spouse.

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Divorce in a Covenant Marriage

A marriage that is not a Covenant Marriage may be ended by divorce more easily. In a marriage that is not a Covenant Marriage, a spouse may get a divorce for adultery by the other spouse, conviction of a felony by the other spouse and his imprisonment at hard labor or death, or by proof that they spouses have lived separate and apart for six months before or after filing for divorce. In a Covenant Marriage a spouse may get a divorce only after receiving counseling and may only get a divorce for one of the following reasons:

  • Adultery by the other spouse;
  • Commission of a felony by the other spouse and sentence of imprisonment at hard labor or death;
  • Abandonment by the other spouse for one year;
  • Physical or sexual abuse of the spouse or of a child of either spouse;
  • The spouses have lived separate and apart for two years; or
  • the spouses are judicially or legally separated and have lived separate and apart since the legal separation for:
    • One year and six months if there is a minor child or children of the marriage
    • One year if the separation was granted for abuse of a child of either spouse;
    • One year in all other cases.

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A Note to Presently Married Couples

Couples who are already married may execute a declaration of intent to designate their marriage a Covenant Marriage. They must sign a recitation and affidavit after receiving counseling. The counselor must attest to the counseling. This intent to designate their marriage a Covenant Marriage must be filed with the official who issued their marriage license and with whom the marriage certificate of the couple is filed. If the couple was married outside Louisiana, a copy of their marriage certificate, with the declaration of intent, shall be filed with the officer who issues marriage licenses in the parish of the couple's domicile. A fee of $25.00 is charged for couples already married who want to enter into a covenant marriage.

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For more information, call the Clerk of Court's Office at 225.686-2216 and ask for Marriage Licenses

2002, 2003 Livingston Parish Clerk of Court.  All Rights Reserved.