The bottom line of most covenant marriage laws is that a couple can not get a divorce easily. This means that when a couple gets their marriage license they must choose how they would end their marriage.
Stricter Criteria for a Divorce:
If a couple chooses the covenant marriage option, they must receive counseling before getting married and before getting a divorce. A no-fault divorce would not be an option. However, abuse, felony, adultery, abandonment, or long periods of separation are conditions accepted for a divorce.
The covenant marriage laws try to put the brakes on quickie divorces by fostering a renewed commitment to having a long-term marriage.
History of Covenant Marriage Laws:
Although in 1997 Louisiana became the first state to pass a covenant marriage law, the idea has been around for quite a while.
It was debated in France in 1947. Since 1997, many other states considered offering this option. However, as of 2012, there are only three states that have covenant marriage legislation: Arizona, Arkansas, and Louisiana.
Designed to Strengthen Families:
This two-tiered system of marriage was designed to strengthen the family. Studies are showing that couples with troubled marriages who receive counseling are more likely to not get divorced. Other statistics are showing a plunge in divorce rates in communities that have required pre-marital education.
Arguments Against Covenant Marriage Vows:
Some critics argue that these covenant laws are too religious in nature, they create higher fees and hardship for those who want a divorce, and they really won't lower the divorce rate. Additionally, if a couple changes their minds, they could file for divorce in another state whose laws do not recognize a covenant option. Others think the covenant marriage doesn't go far enough and have proposed stricter divorce laws.
Recognizing Consequences of Commitment:
Many believe that just having to make this type of decision prior to their wedding may help couples see the consequences of their marriage commitment to one another.