Recognition of Covenant Marriage by United States

By | August 7, 2021

Last Updated on by Admin LB

This article, “Recognition of Covenant Marriage by United States” authored by Pranava Pishati explains covenant marriage and regulations involved in covenant marriages and how they are different from traditional marriages.

Introduction

A covenant marriage is an agreement between wedding spouses that their marriage will last the rest of life. A covenant marriage differs legally from a non-covenant or traditional marriage. During the previous few decades, with the increase in the influence of Count on the press, academia, and pop culture celebrities, the practice of atheism had a more unfavourable view on religion in American life.

Diverse societies and generations have taken quite different approaches to marriage” and divorce. In normal/traditional marriage Divorce was made easier by the legislation. Couples can just provide those who want to marry the option to opt out of a quick divorce.

Hence to lower the divorce rate, some states have considered enacting covenant marriage legislation. Covenant marriage is a form of marriage that is distinguished by its restrictive character and is now legally recognized by all the states.

Couples in the United States have the option of choosing between normal marriages and covenant marriages.

Right to Marriage

The freedom to marry is not specifically protected by the Constitution. The Bill of Rights enumerates the individual rights guaranteed by the Constitution, while other rights are implied in the text and granted comparable constitutional protection. The right to marry is one of several unenumerated rights recognized by the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court has ruled that states can fairly control the institution by dictating who can marry and how marriages can be dissolved[1]. Marriage alters both couples’ legal status and confers additional rights and duties on both husband and wife.

The Supreme Court ruled in Loving v. Virginia that barring interracial marriage is unconstitutional because it violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution. As a result, marriage is now recognized as a civil right.

Over time, the Supreme Court has created three distinct degrees of judicial examination for determining the constitutionality of a statute. The Court applies rigorous scrutiny, the highest degree of review, to legislation that violate a fundamental right or are based on a questionable categorization.

To withstand rigorous scrutiny, the government must show that the legislation advances a compelling governmental interest and that it is narrowly tailored to achieve that goal. The Court has also created a degree of scrutiny that is intermediate.

For legislation that discriminate on the basis of gender, statutes that restrict the rights of illegitimate offspring, and infringements on commercial expression, the Court applies intermediate scrutiny. To pass intermediate scrutiny, the state action must “serve essential governmental interests and be substantially connected to achieving those objectives.”

Covenant Marriages

Louisiana was the first state in the United States to legalize covenant marriage in 1997[2], when the legislature passed House Bill 756, known as the Covenant Marriage Act. Arkansas and Arizona followed suit not long after. there have been registered marriages under covenant marriage law since its establishment.

Covenant marriages can now be contracted by either opposite-sex or same-sex couples, as the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage happened. The main goal of covenant marriages is to keep the marriage union together and make divorce more difficult. These marriages need counselling both before and after the contract is signed, as well as again if the couple decides to split and divorce.

Louisiana Revised Statute § 9:272 defines a covenant marriage as one “entered into by one male and one female who understand and agree that the marriage between them is a lifelong relationship.”‘ The statute emphasizes the importance of preserving covenant marriages by providing for dissolution only where “there has been a complete and total breach of the marital covenant commitment.[3]

The term “covenant” can refer to both religious and secular regulation. It conveys dedication, devotion, and even acknowledgement of divine direction, but it is also suggestive of a contract—the agreement to perform or not do something[4].

When religious authority performs the marriage ceremony in the United States, the civil and religious components combine. In a no-fault state, “marriage” is simple, as is divorce. As a result, the Louisiana Act provides an opportunity to engage in something more permanent, secure, and less vulnerable: the covenant marriage.

Regulations relating to Covenant Marriages

Covenant marriage has the following characteristics to register a marriage:

  1. Mandatory premarital counselling stress to the couple about the importance of marriage.
  2. The signing of a “Declaration of Intent” in which the couple attempts to make all possible attempts to save the marriage and specifies that Louisiana law will be applied; and
  3. Specifies fault-based grounds for divorce as well as no-fault divorce, the latter conditional on a longer period of separation (2 years).

In terms of dissolution statutes. They are both fault grounds and a no-fault alternative, with no-fault divorce made more difficult. Covenant marriages, on the other hand, are not eligible for no-fault divorces. Instead, the couple must demonstrate to the court that there is a legal cause to end the marriage.

If a couple enters into a covenant marriage, they can lawfully separate or divorce for the following reasons[5]:

  1. The partner committed adultery
  2. The spouse committed a felony and was sentenced to jail or death.
  3. The spouse has been gone from the marital residence for more than a year.
  4. The spouse or their children were subjected to domestic violence, sexual abuse, or emotional abuse by the spouse.
  5. The couple has been living apart for at least two years.
  6. The couple was previously awarded formal separation by a higher court, and they have not resided together in their marital residence for more than a year.
  7. The spouse is an alcoholic or a drug addict and staying with them is unhealthy.

How is it different from a standard marriage?

In Louisiana, there are fewer and lesser onerous steps to fulfil in order to register a marriage when entering into a regular marriage than when entering into a covenant marriage. A declaration defining the parties’ idea of marriage or attestations showing the parties have shared intimate facts with each other are not required in a regular marriage.

Counselling is not required before or during a regular marriage. When compared to a covenant marriage, the divorce requirements in a regular marriage will be granted without trouble. In Louisiana, both a normal marriage and a covenant marriage may be dissolved instantly if the non-petitioning spouse commits adultery or is incarcerated for a felony.”

Other reasons for divorce in a covenant marriage include desertion and physical or sexual abuse. Because the pre-divorce separation periods are significantly longer in a covenant marriage, people in a normal marriage have an easier time obtaining a no-fault divorce in Louisiana.

When compared to New York’s divorce choices, Louisiana’s covenant marriage divorce options are more extensive. In situations of mental cruelty, New York requires an instant termination of the marriage, but Louisiana’s covenant marriage statute does not.

Furthermore, if the parties cannot reach a settlement agreement, they may be required to stay apart for two years before getting a divorce in a covenant marriage. Covenant marriage’s divorce standards are stringent, even when compared to New York’s fault-based regime.

Limitations

The government usually views covenant marriage to be the more committed marriage, as seen by the required statement that all covenant marriage participants must sign. Individuals may believe that because the government has created such a marriage, they must select this form of marriage.

As a result, the marriage connection is less than fully consensual. People’s behaviour is influenced by the law, and individuals see other people and organizations based on how their government perceives them. This influence has the potential to become coercive.

Covenant marriage also limits a person’s liberty by providing insufficient alternatives by asking them to choose which marriage. Louisiana’s covenant marriage law forces couples to choose between a devalued normal marriage and a holy marriage that is extremely difficult to end if things go wrong. Both are unappealing alternatives.

“To be autonomous, a person must not only be offered a choice, but a sufficient variety of alternatives, which covenant marriage rules arguably do not allow.[6]

Conclusion: Recognition of Covenant Marriage by United States

The dissolution of marriage generates concerns about the implications for various areas of the parties’ relationships, notably marital property, child custody, and support. If issues require court settlement, they will usually occur at the moment of dissolution in a bilateral divorce.

Covenant-marriage legislation does not claim to encompass, and the couples’ “Declaration of Intent” does not address, the events of marriage and the repercussions of divorce.


Reference

[1] Edwards, Laura F. “”The Marriage Covenant Is at the Foundation of All Our Rights”: The Politics of Slave Marriages in North Carolina after Emancipation.” <i>Law and History Review</i> 14, no. 1 (1996): 81-124., Available At

[2] (Hg.org, 2021), Available At

[3] Id. § 9:272 (West Supp. 1998)

[4] Peter Hay, The American “Covenant Marriage” in the Conflict of Laws, 64 La. L. Rev. (2003), Available At

[5] Tash J, ‘What Is A Covenant Marriage? (Covenant Marriage Arizona)’ (Burggraff Tash Levy PLC, 2021), Available At

[6] Melissa Lawton, The Constitutionality of Covenant Marriage Laws, 66 Fordham L. Rev. 2471 (1998). Available At


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