What is Covenant Marriage? Understanding an Uncommon Legal Union

by LegalFix
Posted: June 24, 2024
covenant marriage

In an era when complex marriage laws govern unions of love, an interesting form of marriage has gained attention in the United States: the covenant marriage. Not widely recognized, this type of marriage is a testament to couples wanting to emphasize commitment in both spiritual and legal terms. Let's explore what a covenant marriage entails and where it stands in the legal landscape. 

What is a Covenant Marriage?

Covenant marriage is a legally distinct kind of marriage in which couples choose to waive their right to a no-fault divorce. They essentially commit to seeking marital counseling if issues arise and generally face limited grounds on which they can seek divorce or separation. It's designed to promote the permanence of marriage and the idea that challenges can be overcome with effort and support. 

Which States Recognize Covenant Marriage?

Only three states currently recognize covenant marriage:

  • Louisiana: The pioneer, Louisiana introduced the concept in 1997. Couples here must undergo premarital counseling and can only divorce under specific circumstances, like adultery, abandonment, or after living separately for a long period. 

  • Arkansas: Following Louisiana, Arkansas adopted covenant marriage in 2001. The provisions are similar, emphasizing premarital counseling and limited grounds for divorce.

  • Arizona: Joining the list in 2003, the Grand Canyon State’s covenant marriage also underscored counseling and provided restricted divorce conditions. 

It's worth noting that, while only these three states offer covenant marriages, most states will recognize them as valid if the marriage took place in a state allowing it. So, if you were to enter a covenant marriage in Arkansas or Louisiana, your marriage status would still hold if you moved to a new state. 

Legal Implications of Covenant Marriage

Choosing a covenant marriage is a weighty decision. Couples are essentially agreeing to a higher threshold of commitment and a potentially more challenging path should they decide to part ways. The legal restrictions mean that even if both parties wish to divorce, they may need to undergo a legally mandated period of separation or prove one of the limited grounds for divorce applicable in their state. 

That does not mean that a divorce can never be granted, however. Circumstances that could result in the termination of a covenant marriage are:

  • Spousal Abuse: Physical or sexual abuse committed by one spouse against the other spouse or a child.

  • Adultery: If one spouse cheats on the other.

  • Felony Conviction: If a spouse is convicted of a serious crime.

  • Substance Abuse: If one spouse struggles with addiction to illegal drugs.

  • Separation: If both spouses live separately for a designated period (typically one or two years, depending on the state).

Know the Laws with LegalFix

Love, commitment, and law intertwine uniquely in covenant marriages. Whether considering such a union, facing challenges within one, or navigating the path of divorce in a covenant marriage, the legal complexities can be daunting. 

Having affordable and reliable access to a family law professional, especially one well-versed in the nuances of covenant marriage, can provide clarity, assurance, and guidance. After all, when intertwining lives, emotions, and legalities, having a guiding hand can make all the difference. 

Whether you’re trying to understand covenant marriage or just want a better understanding of how our legal system works, LegalFix is your go-to source for free legal information. You can find helpful articles and state-specific explanations of nearly 1,600 legal topics, or browse state and federal statutes to better understand the laws that affect you. Just visit to find all this content—and check back often for more valuable legal products and services coming soon.