Maryland Covenant Marriage bill


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HOUSE BILL 1076
 
Unofficial Copy 1999 Regular Session

By: Delegates Malone (D-Arbutus) and Montague (D-Baltimore)
Introduced and read first time: February 22, 1999
Assigned to: Rules and Executive Nominations
_____________________

[Note -- ALL CAPS language is NEW, everything else is existing law.]

A BILL ENTITLED

AN ACT concerning

Family Law - Covenant Marriage

FOR the purpose of authorizing a man and a woman to enter into a covenant
marriage; requiring the parties to a covenant marriage to indicate their intent to
enter into a covenant marriage on the marriage license application and execute
a declaration of intent; requiring a declaration of intent to contain certain
information and be attached to the marriage license; establishing that a court
may decree an absolute divorce in the case of a covenant marriage only on
certain grounds under certain circumstances; defining a certain term; and
generally relating to a covenant marriage.

BY adding to
Article - Family Law
Section 2-203
Annotated Code of Maryland
(1999 Replacement Volume)

BY repealing and reenacting, with amendments,
Article - Family Law
Section 2-402(b), 2-403(b), and 7-103
Annotated Code of Maryland
(1999 Replacement Volume)

SECTION 1. BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF
MARYLAND, That the Laws of Maryland read as follows:

Article - Family Law

§2-203.

(A) IN THIS SECTION, "COVENANT MARRIAGE" MEANS A MARRIAGE ENTERED INTO BY A MAN AND A WOMAN IN WHICH THE PARTIES AGREE TO:

(1) PARTICIPATE IN PREMARITAL COUNSELING;

(2) MAKE ALL REASONABLE EFFORTS TO PRESERVE THE MARRIAGE BEFORE SEEKING A DIVORCE, INCLUDING MARITAL COUNSELING; AND

(3) WAIVE THE RIGHT TO A NO-FAULT DIVORCE.

(B) A MAN AND A WOMAN MAY ENTER INTO A COVENANT MARRIAGE BY DECLARING THEIR INTENT TO ENTER INTO A COVENANT MARRIAGE ON THE MARRIAGE LICENSE APPLICATION UNDER § 2-402 OF THIS TITLE AND BY EXECUTING A DECLARATION OF INTENT IN ACCORDANCE WITH SUBSECTION (C) OF THIS SECTION.

(C) A DECLARATION OF INTENT SHALL:

(1) BE ATTACHED TO A MARRIAGE LICENSE IN ACCORDANCE WITH § 2-403 OF THIS TITLE; AND

(2) CONTAIN:

(I) A STATEMENT BY THE PARTIES THAT:

1. THEY INTEND TO ENTER INTO A COVENANT MARRIAGE;

2. THEY HAVE RECEIVED PREMARITAL COUNSELING CONCERNING THE NATURE, PURPOSES, AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF MARRIAGE;

3. BEFORE SEEKING A DIVORCE, THEY AGREE TO MAKE ALL REASONABLE EFFORTS TO PRESERVE THE MARRIAGE, INCLUDING MARITAL COUNSELING; AND

4. THEY UNDERSTAND THE EXCLUSIVE GROUNDS FOR DIVORCE UNDER § 7-103 OF THIS ARTICLE;

(II) AN AFFIDAVIT BY THE PARTIES THAT STATES THAT THE PARTIES HAVE RECEIVED PREMARITAL COUNSELING FROM ANY OFFICIAL OR CLERGYMAN OF ANY RELIGIOUS ORDER OR BODY, INCLUDING A PRIEST, RABBI, OR MINISTER, OR A MARRIAGE COUNSELOR;

(III) A STATEMENT BY THE COUNSELOR WITNESSED BY A NOTARY PUBLIC THAT CONFIRMS THAT THE PARTIES HAVE RECEIVED PREMARITAL COUNSELING; AND

(IV) THE SIGNATURE OF BOTH PARTIES WITNESSED BY A NOTARY PUBLIC.

2-402.

(b) Except as provided in subsections (d) and (e) of this section, to apply for a license, 1 of the parties to be married shall:

(1) appear before the clerk and give, under oath, the following
information, which shall be placed on an application form by the clerk:

(i) the full name of each party;

(ii) the place of residence of each party;

(iii) the age of each party;

(iv) whether the parties are related by blood or marriage and, if so, in which degree of relationship;

(v) the marital status of each party; [and]

(vi) whether either party was married previously, and the date and place of each death or judicial determination that ended any former marriage; and

(VII) WHETHER THE PARTIES INTEND TO ENTER INTO A COVENANT MARRIAGE, AS DEFINED IN § 2-203 OF THIS TITLE; AND

(2) sign the application form.

2-403.

(b) (1) Attached to a license shall be 2 certificate forms that:

(i) read, "I hereby certify that on this ............ day of ...................., one thousand nine hundred and .... at .............., ............... (state here name of husband) and ............... (state here name of wife) were by me united in marriage in accordance with the license issued by the Clerk of the Circuit Court for .................";

(ii) provide a space for the signature of the authorized official who performs the marriage ceremony; and

(iii) provide spaces for the Social Security numbers of the parties.

(2) Attached to a license, in the case of a Society of Friends marriage ceremony, shall be 2 certificate forms that:

(i) read, "We hereby certify that on this .......... day of .........., one thousand nine hundred and ........... at ........... we, ............... (state here name of husband) and ............... (state here name of wife) were united in marriage in accordance with the ceremony of the Society of Friends and in accordance with the license issued by the Clerk of the Circuit Court for ........";

(ii) provide spaces for the signatures of the parties and the 2 overseers of the marriage ceremony; and

(iii) provide spaces for the Social Security numbers of the parties.

(3) ATTACHED TO A LICENSE, IN THE CASE OF A COVENANT MARRIAGE, SHALL BE THE CERTIFICATE FORMS REQUIRED UNDER PARAGRAPH (1) OR (2) OF THIS SUBSECTION AND A DECLARATION OF INTENT EXECUTED IN ACCORDANCE WITH § 2-203 OF THIS TITLE.

1 7-103.

(a) [The] EXCEPT AS PROVIDED IN SUBSECTION (B) OF THIS SECTION, THE court may decree an absolute divorce on the following grounds:

(1) adultery;

(2) desertion, if:

(i) the desertion has continued for 12 months without interruption before the filing of the application for divorce;

(ii) the desertion is deliberate and final; and

(iii) there is no reasonable expectation of reconciliation;

(3) voluntary separation, if:

(i) the parties voluntarily have lived separate and apart without cohabitation for 12 months without interruption before the filing of the application for divorce; and

(ii) there is no reasonable expectation of reconciliation;

(4) conviction of a felony or misdemeanor in any state or in any court of the United States if before the filing of the application for divorce the defendant has:

(i) been sentenced to serve at least 3 years or an indeterminate sentence in a penal institution; and

(ii) served 12 months of the sentence;

(5) 2-year separation, when the parties have lived separate and apart without cohabitation for 2 years without interruption before the filing of the application for divorce;

(6) insanity if:

(i) the insane spouse has been confined in a mental institution, hospital, or other similar institution for at least 3 years before the filing of the application for divorce;

(ii) the court determines from the testimony of at least 2 physicians who are competent in psychiatry that the insanity is incurable and there is no hope of recovery; and

(iii) 1 of the parties has been a resident of this State for at least 2 years before the filing of the application for divorce;

(7) cruelty of treatment toward the complaining party, if there is no reasonable expectation of reconciliation; or

(8) excessively vicious conduct toward the complaining party, if there is no reasonable expectation of reconciliation.

(B) (1) SUBJECT TO THE COUNSELING REQUIREMENT UNDER PARAGRAPH (2) OF THIS SUBSECTION, IF THE PARTIES HAVE ENTERED INTO A COVENANT MARRIAGE UNDER § 2-203 OF THIS ARTICLE, THE COURT MAY DECREE AN ABSOLUTE DIVORCE ON THE GROUNDS SPECIFIED IN SUBSECTION (A)(1), (2), (4), (6), (7), OR (8) OF THIS SECTION.

(2) THE COURT MAY GRANT AN ABSOLUTE DIVORCE UNDER THIS SUBSECTION ONLY IF THE PARTIES HAVE SUBMITTED TO THE COURT:

(I) AN AFFIDAVIT BY THE PARTIES THAT STATES THAT THE PARTIES HAVE RECEIVED MARITAL COUNSELING FROM ANY OFFICIAL OR CLERGYMAN OF ANY RELIGIOUS ORDER OR BODY, INCLUDING A PRIEST, RABBI, OR MINISTER, OR A MARRIAGE COUNSELOR IN AN EFFORT TO PRESERVE THE MARRIAGE; AND

(II) A STATEMENT BY THE COUNSELOR WITNESSED BY A NOTARY PUBLIC THAT CONFIRMS THAT THE PARTIES HAVE RECEIVED MARITAL COUNSELING IN AN EFFORT TO PRESERVE THE MARRIAGE.

[(b)] (C) Recrimination is not a bar to either party obtaining an absolute divorce on the grounds set forth in subsection (a)(1) through (5) of this section, but is a factor to be considered by the court in a case involving the ground of adultery.

[(c)] (D) Res judicata with respect to another ground under this section is not a bar to either party obtaining an absolute divorce on the ground of 2-year separation.

[(d)] (E) Condonation is not an absolute bar to a decree of an absolute divorce on the ground of adultery, but is a factor to be considered by the court in determining
whether the divorce should be decreed.

[(e)] (F) (1) A court may decree an absolute divorce even if a party has obtained a limited divorce.

(2) If a party obtained a limited divorce on the ground of desertion that at the time of the decree did not meet the requirements of subsection (a)(2) of this section, the party may obtain an absolute divorce on the ground of desertion when the desertion meets the requirements of subsection (a)(2) of this section.

SECTION 2. AND BE IT FURTHER ENACTED, That this Act shall take effect October 1, 1999.

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