Louisiana is one of the three states in the country that has introduced the ‘covenant marriage’ system. It differs from the conventional system in that marrying spouses agree to certain terms and conditions that affect their ability to get a divorce or separate from their spouse.
To begin, in order to enter into a covenant marriage, there are some required steps. The couple must sign a declaration of intent. Among other things, this declaration stipulates that the couple has received marital counseling before getting married, and they will make all rational efforts in order to preserve their marriage in case of marital difficulties, including getting counseling. This is not the case for other couples married in Louisiana.
The clauses agreed to in the declaration might end up making divorce difficult. This is because the couple must first submit to counseling, and if that does not work, there are certain grounds outlined on which the divorce may be applied for. This includes situations such as abandonment by a spouse occurring for one year, the other spouse committing a felony or the other spouse receiving a sentence of imprisonment at hard labor or death.
In addition to this, they must demonstrate they have lived separately and apart for two years, or if the couple is already separated, they have lived apart since the separation for 18 months if there is a minor child involved, one year if the separation was caused by abuse or one year in all other cases. There are also similar requirements for a separation.
It is important to know the implications of documents being signed in lieu of marriage, as they may affect the couple’s ability to end the marriage. Whether in a covenant marriage or not, it is important to know the divorce process and family laws that apply and an experienced lawyer may be able to provide guidance.