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What is covenant marriage?

The law describes a covenant marriage as a marriage entered into by one male and one female who understand and agree that the marriage between them is a lifelong relationship.

How does a couple enter into a covenant marriage?

In order to enter into a covenant marriage, the couple must take special steps and execute and record special documents on the public record.

The law provides that a man and woman may contract a covenant marriage by declaring their intent to do so on their application for a marriage license and executing a declaration of intent to contract a covenant marriage and then, of course, actually getting married accordingly. The application for a marriage license and the declaration of intent shall be filed with the official who issues the marriage license.

The declaration of intent to contract a covenant marriage shall contain all of the following:

• A recitation signed by both parties

• An affidavit by the parties attesting they have received premarital counseling from a priest, minister, rabbi, clerk of the Religious Society of Friends, any clergyman of any religious sect, or a professional marriage counselor. The seriousness of covenant marriage shall be included in the discussion during counseling.

• An attestation signed by the counselor and attached to or included in the parties’ affidavit, confirming that the parties were counseled as to the nature and purpose of the marriage.

• The signature of both parties witnessed by a notary.

• If one or both of the parties are minors, the written consent or authorization of those persons required under the Children’s Code to consent to or authorize the marriage of minors.

Thus, the declaration shall contain two separate documents, the recitation and the affidavit of the parties to the marriage, the latter of which shall include the attestation of the premarital counselor, either included therein or attached thereto. The recitation of the parties shall be prepared in duplicate originals, one of which shall be retained by the parties and the other, together with the affidavit and attestation, shall be filed with the official who issues the marriage license.

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