2001 Minnesota HF 56 - Covenant Marriage


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2001 Minnesota House File No. 56

H.F No. 56, as introduced: 82nd Legislative Session (2001-2002)

VERSION: Introduced
January 8, 2001
Lipman

A bill for an act relating to marriage; providing for covenant marriages;
amending Minnesota Statutes 2000, sections 517.08, subdivision 1a, and by
adding a subdivision; and 517.10; proposing coding for new law in Minnesota
Statutes, chapters 517; and 518.


TEXT:
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MINNESOTA:

Section 1. Minnesota Statutes 2000, section 517.08, subdivision 1a, is
amended to read:

Subd. 1a. [REQUIRED INFORMATION.] Application for a marriage license shall
be made upon a form provided for the purpose and shall contain the following
information:

(1) the full names of the parties and the sex of each party;

(2) their post office addresses and county and state of residence;

(3) their full ages;

(4) if either party has previously been married, the party's married name,
and the date, place and court in which the marriage was dissolved or annulled
or the date and place of death of the former spouse;

(5) if either party is a minor, the name and address of the minor's
parents or guardian;

(6) whether the parties are related to each other, and, if so, their
relationship;

(7) the name and date of birth of any child of which both parties are
parents, born before the making of the application, unless their parental
rights and the parent and child relationship with respect to the child have
been terminated;

(8) address of the bride and groom after the marriage to which the court
administrator shall send a certified copy of the marriage certificate;

(9) the full names the parties will have after marriage and the parties'
social security numbers. The social security numbers must be collected for
the application but must not appear on the marriage license;

(10) if one or both of the parties to the marriage license has a felony
conviction under Minnesota law or the law of another state or federal
jurisdiction, the parties shall provide to the county proof of service upon
the prosecuting authority and, if applicable, the attorney general, as
required by section 259.13;

(11) notice that a party who has a felony conviction under Minnesota law
or the law of another state or federal jurisdiction may not use a different
surname after marriage except as authorized by section 259.13, and that doing
so is a gross misdemeanor; and

(12) an acknowledgment, over the signature of both parties, signaling
their awareness of the covenant marriage laws in Minnesota and their joint
designation of their marriage as either a "covenant marriage" or a "standard
marriage."

Sec. 2. Minnesota Statutes 2000, section 517.08, is amended by adding a
subdivision to read:

Subd. 4. [COVENANT MARRIAGE.] If the parties applying for a
marriage license intend to contract a covenant marriage pursuant to sections
517.25 to 517.27, their application must also include the following
statement:

"We, (name of intended spouse) and (name of other intended spouse),
declare our intent to contract a covenant marriage and have attached to this
application the declaration of intent required by Minnesota Statutes, section
517.26."

The parties must submit a signed declaration of intent that complies
with section 517.26.

A marriage license must contain an indication of whether or not the
marriage will be a covenant marriage.

Sec. 3. Minnesota Statutes 2000, section 517.10, is amended to read:

517.10 [CERTIFICATE; WITNESSES.]

The person solemnizing a marriage shall prepare and sign three
certificates thereof. Each certificate shall contain the full names before
and after marriage and county and state of residences of the parties and the
date and place of the marriage. If the parties have entered into a
covenant marriage, the certificate must indicate that fact. Each
certificate shall also contain the signatures of at least two of the
witnesses present at the marriage who shall be at least 16 years of age. The
person solemnizing the marriage shall give each of the parties one such
certificate, and shall immediately make a record of such marriage, and file
one such certificate with the court administrator of the district court of
the county in which the license was issued within five days after the
ceremony. The court administrator shall record such certificate in a book
kept for that purpose.

Sec. 4. [517.25] [COVENANT MARRIAGE.]

Subdivision 1. [REQUIREMENTS.] A covenant marriage is a
marriage entered into by one male and one female who understand and agree
that the marriage between them is a lifelong relationship. Parties to a
covenant marriage must have received counseling emphasizing the nature and
purposes of marriage and its responsibilities. Only when there has been a
complete and total breach of the marital covenant commitment, as set forth in
section 517.26, clause (1), may the nonbreaching party seek a dissolution of
the marriage.

Subd. 2. [PROCEDURE.] Parties may contract a covenant marriage
by declaring their intent to do so on their application for a marriage
license, as provided in section 517.08, subdivision 4, and executing a
declaration of intent to contract a covenant marriage, as provided in section
517.26. The application for a marriage license and the declaration of intent
must be filed with the official who issues the marriage license.

Sec. 5. [517.26] [DECLARATION OF INTENT.]

A declaration of intent to contract a covenant marriage must contain
the following:

(1) a recitation by the parties to the following effect:

"A COVENANT MARRIAGE

We do solemnly declare that marriage is a covenant between a man and a
woman who agree to live together as husband and wife for so long as they both
live. We have chosen each other carefully and disclosed to one another
everything that could adversely affect the decision to enter into this
marriage. We have received premarital counseling on the nature, purposes, and
responsibilities of marriage. We have read the Covenant Marriage Act, and we
understand that a covenant marriage is for life. If we experience marital
difficulties, we commit ourselves to take all reasonable efforts to preserve
our marriage, including marital counseling.

With full knowledge of what this commitment means, we do hereby
declare that our marriage will be bound by Minnesota law on covenant
marriages and we promise to love, honor, and care for one another as husband
and wife for the rest of our lives";

(2) an affidavit by the parties that they have received premarital
counseling from a licensed or ordained minister of any religious
denomination, or a person authorized to solemnize marriages by section
517.18, or a person authorized to practice marriage and family therapy under
section 148B.33. The counseling must include a discussion of the seriousness
of covenant marriage, communication of the fact that a covenant marriage is a
commitment for life, a discussion of the obligation to seek marital
counseling in times of marital difficulties, and a discussion of the
exclusive grounds for legally terminating a covenant marriage by dissolution
after a judgment of separation;

(3) an attestation, signed by the counselor and attached to or
included in the parties' affidavit, confirming that the parties were
counseled as to the nature and purpose of the marriage and the grounds for
its termination and acknowledging that the counselor provided to the parties
the informational pamphlet developed and issued by the office of the attorney
general that provides a full explanation of the terms and conditions of a
covenant marriage; and

(4) the signature of both parties witnessed by a notary or, if one or
both of the parties are minors, the notarized written consent of those
persons required to consent to or authorize their marriage.

Sec. 6. [517.27] [APPLICABILITY TO ALREADY MARRIED COUPLES.]

Subdivision 1. [PROCEDURES.] Married couples may execute a
declaration of intent to designate their marriage as a covenant marriage.

The declaration of intent in the form and containing the contents
required by subdivision 2 must be presented to the officer who issued the
couple's marriage license and with whom the couple's marriage certificate is
filed. If the couple was married outside of this state, a copy of the foreign
marriage certificate with the declaration of intent attached must be filed
with the officer who issues marriage licenses in the county in which the
couple is domiciled. The officer shall make a notation on the marriage
certificate of the declaration of intent of a covenant marriage and attach a
copy of the declaration to the certificate.

Subd. 2. [CONTENTS OF DECLARATION OF INTENT.] A declaration of
intent to designate a marriage as a covenant marriage must contain the
following:

(1) a recitation by the parties to the following effect:

"A COVENANT MARRIAGE

We do solemnly declare that marriage is a covenant between a man and a
woman who agree to live together as husband and wife for so long as they both
live. We understand the nature, purpose, and responsibilities of marriage. We
have read the Covenant Marriage Act, and we understand that a covenant
marriage is for life. If we experience marital difficulties, we commit
ourselves to take all reasonable efforts to preserve our marriage, including
marital counseling.

With full knowledge of what this commitment means, we declare that our
marriage will be bound by Minnesota law on covenant marriage, and we renew
our promise to love, honor, and care for one another as husband and wife for
the rest of our lives."

(2) an affidavit by the parties that they have discussed their intent
to designate their marriage as a covenant marriage with a licensed or
ordained minister of any religious denomination, a person authorized to
solemnize marriages by section 517.18, or a person authorized to practice
marriage and family therapy under section 148B.33, which included a
discussion of the obligation to seek marital counseling in times of marital
difficulties and the exclusive grounds for legally terminating a covenant
marriage by dissolution after a judgment of separation;

(3) a notarized attestation, signed by the counselor and attached to
the parties' affidavit, acknowledging that the counselor provided to the
parties the information pamphlet developed and promulgated by the office of
the attorney general that provides a full explanation of the terms and
conditions of a covenant marriage; and

(4) the notarized signature of both parties.

Sec. 7. [518.065] [GROUNDS FOR DISSOLUTION OR SEPARATION OF COVENANT
MARRIAGE.]

Subdivision 1. [DISSOLUTION.] Notwithstanding any other law to
the contrary and subsequent to the parties obtaining counseling, as provided
for in subdivision 3, a spouse to a covenant marriage may obtain a judgment
of dissolution only upon proof of any of the following:

(1) the other spouse has committed adultery;

(2) the other spouse has committed a felony and has been sentenced to
death or imprisonment;

(3) the other spouse has abandoned the matrimonial domicile for a
period of one year and refuses to return;

(4) the other spouse has physically or sexually abused the spouse
seeking the dissolution or a child of one of the spouses; or

(5) the spouses have been living separate and apart continuously
without reconciliation for a period of five years.

Subd. 2. [SEPARATION.] Notwithstanding any other law to the
contrary and subsequent to the parties obtaining counseling, a spouse to a
covenant marriage may obtain a judgment of separation only upon proof of any
of the following:

(1) the other spouse has committed adultery;

(2) the other spouse has committed a felony and has been sentenced to
death or imprisonment;

(3) the other spouse has abandoned the matrimonial domicile for a
period of one year and refuses to return;

(4) the other spouse has physically or sexually abused the spouse
seeking the separation or a child of one of the spouses;

(5) the spouses have been living separate and apart continuously
without reconciliation for a period of two years; or

(6) on account of habitual intemperance of the other spouse, or
domestic abuse perpetrated by the other spouse of such a nature as to render
their living together insupportable.

Subd. 3. [POSTMARITAL COUNSELING.] No party may file a
petition or pleading requesting a judgment of dissolution of a covenant
marriage unless both parties have completed as a minimum a six-month marital
counseling course which emphasizes the principles of reconciliation, of no
less than 60 hours of actual counseling time, consisting of three months of
individual counseling and three months of counseling as a couple, by a
licensed or ordained minister of any religious denomination, a person
authorized to solemnize marriages under section 517.18, or a person
authorized to practice marriage and family therapy under section 148B.33.

Sec. 8. [518.066] [COURT JURISDICTION AND INCIDENTAL RELIEF.]

Subdivision 1. [JURISDICTION.] (a) Any court which is
competent to preside over dissolution proceedings has jurisdiction of an
action for separation in a covenant marriage if:

(1) one or both of the spouses are domiciled in this state and the
ground for separation was committed or occurred in this state, or while the
matrimonial domicile was in this state; or

(2) the ground for separation occurred elsewhere while either or both
of the spouses were domiciled elsewhere, provided the person obtaining the
separation was domiciled in this state prior to the time the cause of action
accrued, and is domiciled in this state at the time the action is filed.

(b) An action for a separation in a covenant marriage must be brought
in a county where either party is domiciled or in the county of the last
matrimonial domicile. The venue provided in this subdivision may not be
waived and a judgment of separation rendered by a court of improper venue is
void.

Subd. 2. [LIMITATION.] Judgments on the pleadings and summary
judgments may not be granted in any action for separation in a covenant
marriage.

Subd. 3. [INCIDENTAL RELIEF.] In a proceeding for a separation
or dissolution of a covenant marriage, a court may award a spouse all
incidental relief including, but not limited to, spousal support, claims for
contributions to education, child custody, visitation rights, child support,
injunctive relief, and possession and use of a family residence.

Sec. 9. [518.067] [PAMPHLET.]

The attorney general shall, prior to August 1, 2001, issue an
informational pamphlet entitled "Covenant Marriage Act," outlining in
sufficient detail the consequences of entering into a covenant marriage. The
informational pamphlet must be made available to any counselor who provides
marriage counseling pursuant to section 517.25 or 517.26.

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