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Defending Civil Liberties

Why Is Covenant Marriage a Bad Idea?

Under previously proposed “covenant marriage” legislation, couples could divorce only after a waiting period and counseling even in cases of domestic abuse. In cases of domestic violence, the couple could get divorced without counseling and the year-long waiting period only if the victim could prove to a court that violence occurred and even then, only after a 60 day waiting period. Proponents have initiated efforts to establish covenant marriage in states across the country. The Texas Legislature has so far refused to pass a covenant marriage law.

Covenant Marriage is Dangerous to Victims of Domestic Violence

  • Many courts often require official physical evidence of repeated acts of violence, such as hospital records or police reports. Records like these may not always exist if the victim fears retaliation from the batterer.
  • Reporting violent incidents could increase the likelihood of further abuse against victims.
  • The cost of legal representation may be prohibitive for victims of domestic violence because of the requirement to prove abuse and the extended waiting period.

Formal Legalization of Covenant Marriage is Unnecessary

  • Couples already have the choice to enter into a covenant marriage through numerous churches throughout the state, without instituting the legal restrictions that pose danger to a battered spouse.
  • If couples prefer to opt for this more restrictive covenant, they can easily make the personal commitment to one another, without government oversight.
  • Proponents of covenant marriage have claimed that premarital counseling and stricter divorce laws will lower divorce rates and strengthen marriages, yet there is no evidence to support this because so few people have chosen a covenant marriage over traditional marriage.

Failed Efforts to Pass Covenant Marriage Legislation Would Have: 

  • Allowed couples to enter into or convert an existing marriage to a “covenant marriage” after receiving counseling.
  • Required couples to live apart for at least one year prior to being granted a divorce.
  • Not allowed a divorce without attending six counseling sessions (either as a couple or alone, if one spouse refuses to attend the sessions).
  • Provided victims of domestic abuse a divorce only after a waiting period of 60 days and only if he/she could prove violence occurred.