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Louisiana covenant marriage allows divorce – but it’s complicated

On Behalf of | Mar 14, 2024 | Firm News

Louisiana is among just a few states that recognize covenant marriage. Those who advocate for covenant marriage often do so because this type of marriage is less likely to end in divorce. 

If a spouse or the couple together decides to divorce, it’s a lengthier and more complicated process than divorce in a traditional marriage is. It requires a lengthy separation period before a divorce can be granted. It also requires a serious reason or ground for that separation and possibly eventual divorce.

What is required for separation?

Under Louisiana law, to seek a separation from your spouse, you must provide evidence that they have done one or more of the following:

  • Committed adultery
  • Abandoned the home for a year or longer
  • Physically or sexually abused you and/or your child
  • Been guilty of “excesses, cruel treatment, or outrages of the other spouse….as to render their living together insupportable” as the result of “habitual intemperance” (substance abuse).
  • Been convicted of committing a felony and been sentenced to “death or imprisonment at hard labor.”

If the couple has already been separated “continuously without reconciliation,” that also qualifies them to obtain a separation. Unless the reason for separation is physical or sexual abuse, couples are required to go to counseling for the duration of their separation.

It might sound like covenant marriage is a relic left over from a previous century. In a way, it is – the end of the 20th century. Louisiana didn’t enact the covenant marriage law until 1997.

What is required for divorce?

Once the spouses must have been living separately for a designated period after the separation is granted, then a divorce can be considered by the court. The grounds for divorce are basically the same as for separation.

The length of separation required varies based on factors like whether the couple has children. Even when one spouse has been abusive, a one-year separation is typically required.

Ending a covenant marriage requires time, patience and work. If there’s an issue of abuse, a protection order may be necessary. Whether you’re considering ending your covenant marriage or your spouse is, it’s important to get legal guidance as soon as possible to help you navigate the process and protect your rights.