1999 Tex. S.B. 644 BILL ANALYSIS - Covenant Marriage


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(This bill passed in the Senate in May, 1999 and sent to the House)

SRC-AXB C.S. S.B. 644 76 (R) BILL ANALYSIS

Senate Research Center C.S.S.B. 644
76R11463 MCK-DBy: Haywood
State Affairs
5/3/1999
Committee Report (Substituted)

DIGEST

Currently, 80 percent of divorces end unilaterally. Unilateral divorces do
not ensure that the power of law is on the side of the offended spouse who
kept the marriage promises, rather than on the side of the offender. A
covenant marriage involves more stringent premarital requirements and
marital obligations, encourages the commitment to preserve the marriage
union through difficulty, and clearly establishes the exclusive right to
initiate divorce to the innocent spouse. C.S.S.B. 644 creates and
validates a covenant marriage, and sets forth provisions for the
dissolution and legal separation of a covenant marriage.

PURPOSE

As proposed, C.S.S.B. 644 creates and validates a covenant marriage, and
sets forth provisions for the dissolution and legal separation of a
covenant marriage.

RULEMAKING AUTHORITY

This bill does not grant any additional rulemaking authority to a state
officer, institution, or agency.

SECTION BY SECTION ANALYSIS

SECTION 1. Amends Section 2.002, Family Code, to require an applicant for
a covenant marriage license to complete an affidavit of intent to contract
a covenant marriage described by Section 2.601.
Makes a conforming change. [Text]

SECTION 2. Amends Section 2.004, Family Code, by adding Subsection (c), to
set forth required language of the covenant marriage application form. [Text]

SECTION 3. Amends Section 2.009, Family Code, by adding Subsection (e), to
require the county clerk to indicate whether a marriage license is for a
covenant marriage. [Text]

SECTION 4. Amends Chapter 2, Family Code, by adding Subchapter G, as
follows: [Text]

SUBCHAPTER G. COVENANT MARRIAGE

Sec. 2.601. AFFIDAVIT OF INTENT TO CONTRACT COVENANT MARRIAGE. Requires covenant marriage applicants (fiancees) to submit an official affidavit of intent to enter a covenant marriage. Requires a certain statement to be included in the affidavit. [Text]

Sec. 2.602. DESIGNATING EXISTING MARRIAGE TO COVENANT MARRIAGE.
Authorizes a married couple to designate their marriage as a covenant
marriage by filing an affidavit of intent. Sets forth required language of
the affidavit. Requires the married couple to file the affidavit with
certain entities. Provides that when the affidavit is filed with the
county clerk, the marriage becomes a covenant marriage. [Text]

Sec. 2.603. COUNSELING REQUIREMENT. Requires couples to receive
counseling from a legally authorized marriage counselor prior to entering
into a covenant marriage. Sets forth required actions of the counselor,
and authorizes the counselor to discuss other pertinent non-required topics. [Text]

Sec. 2.604. PAMPHLET ON COVENANT MARRIAGE. Requires the attorney general to prepare a pamphlet which describes the terms and conditions of a
covenant marriage. Requires the pamphlet to list grounds for divorce and
legal separation. Requires the attorney general to provide the pamphlet to
Texas county clerks, and further requires those clerks to provide it to
fiancees and couples. [Text]

SECTION 5. Amends Chapter 6A, Family Code, by adding Section 6.009, as
follows: [Text]

Sec. 6.009. APPLICATION TO COVENANT MARRIAGE. Provides that this
subchapter does not apply to a covenant marriage.

SECTION 6. Amends Chapter 6, Family Code, by adding Subchapter J, as
follows: [Text]

SUBCHAPTER J. DISSOLUTION OF COVENANT MARRIAGE AND LEGAL SEPARATION

Sec. 6.901. DISSOLUTION OR LEGAL SEPARATION. Authorizes a spouse in a covenant marriage to file a suit to dissolve the marriage or begin legal
separation. [Text]

Sec. 6.902. COUNSELING REQUIREMENT BEFORE DISSOLUTION. Prohibits the filing of a marriage dissolution suit prior to receipt of marriage
counseling, with an exception. Requires the couple's participation in such
counseling until both spouse or the counselor determine the marriage to be
unsalvageable. Provides that a spouse is not subject to the counseling
requirements of Subsection (a) if the spouse has obtained a protective
order against the other spouse under Title 4. [Text]

Sec. 6.903. GROUNDS FOR DIVORCE OF COVENANT MARRIAGE. Authorizes the court to grant a covenant marriage divorce under certain conditions.
Prohibits the grant of a divorce for reasons relating to a felony
conviction based solely on spousal evidence. Authorizes the court to grant
a divorce on the grounds of insupportability. [Text]

Sec. 6.904. PROCEDURES IN A SUIT FOR DISSOLUTION. Provides that the
procedures in Subchapters D-H apply to a suit for dissolution of a covenant
marriage.

Sec. 6.905. LEGAL SEPARATION. Authorizes a spouse in a covenant marriage
to file a suit for legal separation under certain conditions. Prohibits
issuance of an order of legal separation for reasons relating to a felony
conviction based solely on spousal evidence. Provides that the procedures
in Suchapters D-H apply to a suit for legal separation of a covenant marriage. [Text]

SECTION 7. Amends Section 8.002, Family Code, to authorize the court to
order maintenance for a certain spouse for an act of family violence under
Title 4, rather than Chapter 71, of the Family Code. Requires the court to
issue a temporary order for maintenance in favor of a spouse in a covenant
marriage filing for legal separation based on abandonment or dissolution of
the marriage. Makes a nonsubstantive change. [Text]

SECTION 8. Amends Section 118.011(a), Local Government Code, to create
license fees of $12.50 for both a covenant marriage license and an
affidavit of intent to designate an existing marriage as a covenant marriage. Fees for other marriage licenses, and common-law marriage registration, remain at $25.00. Makes
conforming changes. [Text]

SECTION 9. Amends Section 118.018(a), Local Government Code, to make
conforming and nonsubstantive changes.

SECTION 10. Effective date: September 1, 1999.

SUMMARY OF COMMITTEE CHANGES

SECTION 4.

Amends Section 2.604(a), Family Code, to make a conforming change.

SECTION 6.

Amends Section 6.902, Family Code, to create an exception for a counseling
requirement.

Amends Sections 6.903(a)(6) and (c), Family Code, to add text regarding a
divorce and to make a conforming change.

Amends Section 6.904, Family Code, to add text regarding procedures in a
suit for dissolution. [Text]

Redesignates proposed Section 6.904, Family Code, to Section 6.905, and
makes a conforming change.

SECTION 7.

Amends Section 8.002(b)(1), Family Code, to make a conforming change.

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