Covenant Marriage Links

Part of the Divorce Reform Page, sponsored by Americans for Divorce Reform
Legislation | Statistics | Articles/Opinion | Quotations | Polls | Other family-related articles

This Covenant Marriage Links page is intended to bring together everything about Covenant Marriage -- legislation, news, opinions, and articles. It also presents related proposals for choice in marriage and divorce, and explores the history of the idea of Covenant Marriage.

Another great place to look for Covenant Marriage news and background information is the web site of State Rep. Tony Perkins, the sponsor of

Laura Sanchez and Steven Nock, et al., "Social and Demographic Factors
Associated with Couples Choice between Covenant and Standard Marriage in
Louisiana," available at
Laura A. Sanchez, Steven L. Nock, and James D. Wright, "The Implementation of Covenant Marriage in Louisiana," Virginia Journal of Social Policy and the Law 9 (December, 2000): 192-223.

Louisiana's Covenant Marriage law.

What is covenant marriage?

Covenant Marriage laws generally provide that a couple can choose, at the time of marriage or later, to have slightly more limited grounds for no-fault divorce in their marriage. The couple is required to get marriage education or counseling before their marriage (or the conversion of their marriage to a covenant marriage), and also before divorcing.

How do you get a covenant marriage?

Legal Covenant Marriages are currently available only in Arkansas, Arizona and Louisiana. (Legislation for them also has passed one house, but not both, in Oregon, Georgia, Texas and Oklahoma.) In most states you do not have to be a state resident to get married in the state, or to "upgrade" an existing marriage into a Covenant Marriage.

Non-Governmental Covenant Marriage: The concept of Covenant Marriage began mostly as a way of teaching people to renew and strengthen their marriages, not as legislation. The Covenant Marriage Movement offers marriage covenant documents, which are social, moral and spiritual contracts rather than legal ones. Dr. Bob Christensen's Covenant Marriages Ministry offers books and tapes on how to make your marriage a Covenant Marriage. People sometimes ask us if there are particular marriage vows that people use in covenant marriages. We do not know of wedding ceremonies being done any differently in covenant marriages, but there is a Covenant Marriage Vows Poem that you may find appropriate for your ceremony.

Covenant Marriage Legislation

-- Current Covenant Marriage Laws

Arkansas Covenant Marriage Law
Arkansas Covenant Marriage Amendments passed in 2003
Arkansas State brochure explaining Covenant Marriage

Louisiana Covenant Marriage Law
2001 La. Law on informing couples about divorce law and covenant marriage
2004 Comprehensive Louisiana Divorce Law Reform Bill

Arizona Covenant Marriage Law
2001 Az. Law on Covenant Marriage and Upgrade Licensing
2001 Az. law on divorce pleading requirements in covenant marriage

-- Models and Advice
Classic Marriage -- Our Comprehensive Model Legislation.
Model legislative provisions on pre-marital education for Covenant Marriage and other bills
Other Covenant Marriage drafting tips
A Covenant Marriage Fiscal impact analysis

--2004 Covenant Marriage Bills
2004 Iowa CM bill goes to House floor [Later passed as a premarital counseling/waiting law]
Text of Iowa CM Bill -- HF 2455
Missouri Covenant Marriage Bill HB 799

-- 2003 Covenant Marriage Bills
2003 Arkansas Covenant Marriage Amendments
2003 Indiana Covenant marriage bill
Texas Covenant Marriage Bill, HB 1795
2003 Utah Covenant Marriage Bill, HB 0213-- [Update on failure in Senate*]
2003 Virginia Covenant Marriage Bills
2003 West Virginia Covenant Marriage Bill

-- 2002 Covenant Marriage Bills
2002 Indiana SB 384 - Covenant Marriage
2002 Mississippi HB 901 - Covenant Marriage
2002 Mississippi HB 1394 - Covenant Marriage
2002 Missouri HB 1878 - Covenant Marriage
2001-02 Oklahoma HB 2641 - Covenant Marriage
2001-02 South Carolina SB 1259 - Covenant Marriage Study

-- 2001 Covenant Marriage Bills
Iowa Senate Bill
-- Amendment ensuring access to child support when living apart
-- Amendments adding consent and habitual drug/alcohol abuse as divorce grounds
-- Amendment imposing waiting period for marriages without premarital education, changing the premarital education requirements and giving license fee discount
Iowa House Bill
-- As introduced
-- Latest Version
2001 Georgia HB 17 - Covenant Marriage
2001 Minnesota HF 56 - Covenant Marriage
2001 New Mexico HB 733 - Covenant Marriage
2001 South Carolina SB 206 - Covenant Marriage
Texas Senate Bill 70 and the identical Texas H.B. No. 352
2001 Utah HJR 16 - Covenant Marriage Study

-- 20th Century Covenant Marriage Bills
Alabama Covenant Marriage bills 1998 AL S.B. 606 and HB30
Arkansas 1999 Covenant Marriage bill
Australian Covenant Marriage bill
California Covenant marriage bill -- 1998 SB 1377
Georgia Covenant Marriage Act HB 1138 (SB 440 is identical)
Indiana 1999 Covenant Marriage bill
Indiana Covenant Marriage bill 1998 IN H.B. 1052 -- SUMMARY -- FULL TEXT
Kansas Covenant Marriage bill 1997 KS H.B. 2839
Maryland Covenant Marriage bill 1999 H.B. 1076
Minnesota 1999 Covenant Marriage Bill
Minnesota Covenant Marriage bill 1997 MN S.F. 2935 -- if link does not work, copy and paste this URL into browser window:
If still doesn't work, request copy from
Mississippi Covenant Marriage bills 1998 MS H.B. 1645
Mississippi Covenant Marriage bills: HB 1201 - HB 1222 - HB 1645 - SB 2910
Missouri Covenant Marriage: Good, thorough Summary -- Text of H.B. 1864
2000 New Jersey AB 2640 - Covenant Marriage
Ohio Covenant Marriage bill 1997 OH H.B. 567 - article
Oklahoma Covenant Marriage bill 1997 OK H.B. 2208
Oregon 1999 Covenant Marriage Bill (SB 1215, passed by Senate in May, 1999)
Other Oregon Covenant Marriage bill 1999 - SB 1336
(If this link, or any link, doesn't work, request a copy from
Nebraska Covenant Marriage bill L.B. 1214
South Carolina Covenant Marriage Constitutional Amendment 1997 S.B. 961
South Dakota Covenant Marriage bill
Tennessee Covenant Marriage bill 1997 TN H.B. 2101: Summary -- Bill Text
Texas 1999 Covenant Marriage bills: SB 644 Text (bill that passed the Senate in May, 1999) | SB 644 Analysis/Summary | SB 644 Fiscal impact analysis | HB 350 Analysis/Summary
Virginia Covenant Marriage bills: HB1159 and HB1056 (identical as far as we can tell)
Washington State Covenant Marriage bill S.B. 6135 -- Bill text -- Committee report, analysis and summary
Washington State choice of divorce grounds bill
West Virginia Covenant Marriage bill 1999 WV H.B. 2208

Florida Marriage Preparation and Preservation Act (passed)
Other Marriage Education and Counseling bills (pre-marital, pre-divorce, and custody-related)

There are more such bills and proposals out there.
Search for more legislation on the web -- and help build this web site!

Covenant Marriage News

Ohio Covenant Marriage Bill

Covenant Marriage poll

The following news stories are no longer at the addresses given below, but if you really want to find them you can do so easily via --

2004 Iowa CM bill goes to House floor
Interview with State Rep. Tony Perkins, first legislator to sponsor Covenant Marriage in La.
Oklahoma Covenant bill passes house x
Covenant Marriage Debated at A.B.A. Meeting
2,500 Louisiana Covenant Marriage "Upgraders" in First Eight Months
Estimated 2.9% of new Louisiana Marriages are Covenant in mid-1998, compared with under 1% at first
Georgia Senate approves divorce waiting period, adds Covenant Marriage option
Arizona Adopts Covenant Marriage Law
Story on Missouri Bill similar to Covenant Marriage
Australian covenant marriage proposal 1998 x
Louisiana Clergy's Reaction to Covenant Marriage x
Virginia Marriage Covenant Law Proposed x
Washington State Covenant Marriage and Mandatory Pre-divorce counseling bills, 1998 x
Louisiana Clergy's Reaction to Covenant Marriage -- Michael McManus says clergy should welcome it x

Covenant Marriage Articles and Opinions

Study of Covenant Marriage's Implementation and Demographics
Testimony on Maryland Covenant Marriage bill, 1999 - John Crouch
Convenant marriage foes fail to make their point by Cathy Young
Covenant Marriage Reformers Should Listen to Divorce Lawyers -- Carefully
Fixing the Meaning of Marriage, by Lila Hoffman-Thome -- "Swans don't need contracts; they know what "forever" means."
Friendly Critique of a Typical Covenant Marriage Bill by John Crouch of Americans for Divorce Reform
Sponsor, other Louisianans explain Covenant Marriage -- WORLD Magazine
Prospects for Covenant Marriage in Canada -- includes interview with the law professor who drafted the Louisiana law, and with Maggie Gallagher
'Covenant' forces couples to work to avoid divorce -- article quoting Gallagher and American Bar Association Family Law chair Ira Lurvey
Communitarian Network position paper: Opportuning Virtue: Covenant Marriages,the Louisiana Experience, and Beyond
Walter Olson article in Reason supporting Covenant Marriage
Astute, balanced Waco Tribune-Herald editorial: "I've tried divorces both ways and am at a loss to say which is worse."
Letters to TIME about Covenant Marriage. Short and interesting. Excerpt: " People who enter a covenant marriage will feel more secure and be more inclined to make the commitments, sacrifices and investments necessary for marital success."
Washington Post Magazine story on Covenant Marriage and couples choosing it
Covenant Marriage Vows Poem
"Covenant Marriage option would please no one" by JUDY MARKEY

See also our page of citations to Law Review Articles on Divorce Reform, which includes several on covenant marriage and related concepts.

Related proposals for choice in marriage and "exit rules"

Classic Marriage -- Our Model Legislation.
Washington State Bill Allowing Contracts to Restrict No-Fault Divorce
Model Act to Reduce Divorce, Reduce Role of Fault and Effect on Children
"On Marriage-Stabilizing Legal Techniques," by Hans Hattenhauer. 36 Zeitschrift für das gesamte Familienrecht, p. 225 (March 1989)
David Boaz: Privatize Marriage
"The Privatization of Marriage", by Hans Hattenhauer. 1985 ZRP Heft 7, p. 200.
INTERNATIONAL FAMILY LAW May 1998, -- Emma Hartley, Contractual Freedom Within the Family (pages 39-42)
All couples should have Marriage Contracts to tailor the terms of marriage and divorce to their
particular needs -- Gary Becker in Business Week
"The Marriage of Your Choice" by Christopher Wolfe in First Things, Feb. 1995
South Africa recognizes customary contract marriages, gives wives rights, making polygamy expensive
Walter Olson article in Reason supporting Covenant Marriage

More Law Review Articles on Divorce Reform and Covenant Marriage

**Attention, Users: Dead Links Aren't Really Dead

History of the idea of Covenant Marriage

The First Covenant Marriage Proposal, by Henri Mazeaud, 1945
Debate on Mazeaud Proposal in the French Civil Code Reform Commission, 1947
On Marriage-Stabilizing Legal Techniques, by Hans Hattenhauer. 36 Zeitschrift für das gesamte Familienrecht, p. 225 (March 1989)
The Privatization of Marriage, by Hans Hattenhauer. 1985 ZRP Heft 7, p. 200.
1990 Florida Covenant Marriage Bill HR 1585
Elizabeth Scott, "Rational Decisionmaking in Marriage and Divorce" (1990): For excerpt, go to Communitarian Network's Opportuning Virtue and search for "Rational"
Amitai Etzioni's 1993 "Super Vows" proposal in TIME Magazine
Dr. Bob Christensen's Covenant Marriages Ministry (early 90s to present). Offers Books and Tapes on Covenant Marriage.
Michael and Sonja Herbert's Covenant Marriage Conferences (early to mid-90s)
"The Marriage of Your Choice" by Christopher Wolfe in First Things, Feb. 1995
Washington State Bill Allowing Contracts to Restrict No-Fault Divorce
The difference between Covenant Marriage and Non-Binding Marriage: address by Elder Bruce C. Hafen, October, 1996

Other proposals for choice of rules in marriage and divorce
More Law Review Articles on Divorce Reform and Covenant Marriage

There are more bills and proposals out there.
Search for more legislation on the web -- and help build this web site!

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Originally posted and maintained by Americans for Divorce Reform; now maintained by John Crouch. You can call me at (703) 528-6700 or e-mail me through my law office's web site.