Minnesota 1999 Covenant Marriage Bill


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Bill Name: HF1571 Revisor Number: 99-3303
This text found at:
http://www.revisor.leg.state.mn.us/cgi-bin/bldbill.pl?bill=H1571.0&session=ls81
Chief Author: Harder
Author: Cassell
Author: Olson
Author: Rifenberg
Author: Otremba

H.F No. 1571, as introduced: 81st Legislative Session (1999-2000)

A bill for an act
relating to marriage; providing for covenant
marriages; amending Minnesota Statutes 1998, 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.

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

Section 1. Minnesota Statutes 1998, 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; and
(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.; and
(10) an acknowledgment, over the signature of both parties,
that they are aware of the covenant marriage laws in Minnesota
and jointly designate their marriage as either a "covenant
marriage" or a "standard marriage."

Sec. 2. Minnesota Statutes 1998, 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 enter into a covenant marriage
under sections 517.25 to 517.27, their application must also
include the following statement:
"We, [names of both parties], declare our intent to enter into 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 indicate whether or not the marriage will be a covenant marriage.

Sec. 3. Minnesota Statutes 1998, 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 agree that
the marriage between them is a lifelong relationship. Parties
to a covenant marriage must have received counseling emphasizing
the benefits of covenant marriage and that it is a commitment
for life. Only when there has been a complete and total breach
of the marital covenant commitment, as provided in section
517.26, paragraph (a), may the nonbreaching party seek a
dissolution of the marriage.
Subd. 2. [PROCEDURE.] Parties may enter into a covenant
marriage by declaring their intent to do so on their application
for a marriage license, and executing a declaration of intent to
enter into a covenant marriage. The application for a marriage
license and the declaration of intent must be filed with the
official who issues the marriage license. The court
administrator or other official who issues the marriage license
must inform the parties of the exclusive grounds under law for
dissolving a covenant marriage or receiving a judgment of separation.

Sec. 5. [517.26] [DECLARATION OF INTENT.]
(a) A declaration of intent to enter into a covenant
marriage must contain the following recitation by the parties:

"A COVENANT MARRIAGE
We do solemnly declare that our marriage will be a covenant
marriage under Minnesota law and we agree to live together as
husband and wife as long as we both live. We have chosen each
other carefully and told 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 will take all
reasonable efforts to preserve our marriage, including marital
counseling that emphasizes the principles of reconciliation."

(b) A declaration of intent to enter into a covenant
marriage must include 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, and a discussion of the
obligation to seek marital counseling in times of marital
difficulties. The affidavit must state that the parties were
given an informational pamphlet developed by the office of the
attorney general that provides a full explanation of the terms
and conditions of a covenant marriage. The affidavit must
include or have attached to it a signed statement from the
counselor confirming that the parties received the counseling
required by this paragraph.

(c) The declaration of intent to enter into a covenant
marriage must include the notarized signature of both parties
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 under 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 where the couple resides. 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) A
declaration of intent to designate a marriage as a covenant
marriage must contain a recitation by the parties to the following effect:

"A COVENANT MARRIAGE
We do solemnly declare that our marriage is a covenant
marriage under Minnesota law and we agree to live together as
husband and wife as long as we both live. We understand 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 will take all reasonable efforts to preserve
our marriage, including marital counseling that emphasizes the
principles of reconciliation. With full knowledge of what this
commitment means, we do declare that our marriage will be bound
by Minnesota law on covenant marriage and we promise to love,
honor, and care for one another as husband and wife for the rest of our lives."

(b) A declaration of intent to designate a marriage as a
covenant marriage must include 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. The affidavit must
include or have attached to it a signed statement from the
counselor confirming that the parties received the counseling
required by this paragraph, that they have received an
explanation of the exclusive grounds under law for dissolving a
covenant marriage or obtaining a judgment of separation, and
that they were given the information pamphlet developed by the
office of the attorney general that provides a full explanation
of the terms and conditions of a covenant marriage.

(c) The declaration of intent to designate a marriage as a
covenant marriage must include 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, 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 three years
or at least one year from the date the decree of legal
separation was entered.

Subd. 2. [SEPARATION.] Notwithstanding any other law to
the contrary, 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.

Sec. 8. [518.066] [COURT JURISDICTION AND INCIDENTAL RELIEF.]
Subdivision 1. [JURISDICTION.] (a) A 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 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 otherwise available under law.

Sec. 9. [518.067] [PAMPHLET.]
By August 1, 1999, the attorney general shall issue an
informational pamphlet entitled "Covenant Marriage Act,"
outlining in 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.
Sec. 10. [EFFECTIVE DATE.]
Section 9 is effective the day following final enactment.
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