Arizona Adopts Covenant Marriage Law
by Mike McManus
Arizona's legislature voted
May 20 to create a Covenant Marriage
law like that pioneered by Louisiana, thanks to the leadership of Sen.
David Peterson. The law creates a two-tiered system of marriage licenses.
Couples can choose a standard marriage certificate, which allows a
"no-fault" divorce with only 60 days of separation, with no recourse
partner who wants to save the marriage.
Or the couple can choose
a Covenant Marriage certificate in which
the expectation is that the marriage will be for life. Both partners
agreeing that neither can unilaterally walk away from the marriage
reason. If their marriage has problems, and either is considering
divorce, the couple agrees in advance to seek professional help to
marriage. A divorce is possible but a person who wants a divorce
prove that their partner is at fault, due to adultery, conviction of
felony, physical, drug, alcohol or emotional abuse, abandonment or
separation for two years.
The bill is somewhat watered
down from the Louisiana law on which
it is modeled, in that it considers drug, alcohol or emotional abuse
fault-based ground, which Louisiana does not. It also allows those
Covenant Marriage to get a no-fault divorce if both partners want a
divorce. These concessions were necessary to get the bill through the
Senate, where it passed by a narrow margin of 16-14. The House approved
by a 32-22 vote.
"What America really needs
is a total reform of no-fault divorce,"
says Mike McManus, president of Marriage Savers. "It is unconscionable
that a marital contract entered into by two parties can be broken by
partner, who can force the other to subsidize his or her affair with
person, by demanding half the assets of the marriage. In effect, the
encourages marital misconduct.
"But since divorce lawyers
seem to control the committees
overseeing marital law, Covenant Marriage Laws are a major breakthrough.
They give every couple a choice of a fortified Covenant Marriage
certificate, or the weak no-fault version."
At least a dozen states
considered passage of a Covenant Marriage
bill in 1998, and one house of the Legislature in Oklahoma and Georgia
passed the bill but the other house failed to do so. The states which
had the most legislative success have worked closely with Rep. Tony
Perkins of Louisiana, which passed the first Covenant Marriage law.
He can be
reached at 504 775-4400.