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How can you end a Louisiana covenant marriage?

On Behalf of | Mar 5, 2024 | Divorce

Louisiana was the first state to allow covenant marriage, and it’s currently one of just a handful of states that do. Covenant marriage, particularly in Louisiana, has gotten some media attention recently since Louisiana Rep. Mike Johnson, who is in a covenant marriage with his wife, became Speaker of the House of Representatives last year.

The idea behind the concept is that marriage isn’t just a legal commitment, but a spiritual one. Entering into a covenant marriage isn’t much different than a traditional one except that premarital counseling from a member of the clergy or licensed therapist is required.

Ending a covenant marriage, however, is a considerably lengthier process than it is for those in traditional marriages. It also requires evidence that spouses have one or more of the designated grounds for divorce.

Grounds for separation

If you need to obtain a divorce from a covenant marriage, under Louisiana law, the grounds for separating from your spouse include proving that your spouse has:

  • Committed adultery
  • Been convicted of committing a felony
  • Abandoned the home for at least a year
  • Committed physical or sexual abuse of you and/or one of your children
  • Engaged in “excesses, cruel treatment, or outrages of the other spouse…[that make] living together unsupportable”

Spouses are required to participate in counseling as part of the separation unless one of the grounds involves spousal or child abuse.

Moving toward divorce

The grounds for divorce are essentially the same as for separation. However, spouses must have been living separately for a specified period after the separation is granted before a divorce can be finalized. They’re also supposed to continue counseling throughout this time.

Rules regarding how long a couple must have lived apart between separation and divorce vary based on different factors. However, even if there was abuse involved, that period is one year under the law.

As you can see, ending a covenant marriage is not intended to be fast or easy, and separation and divorce must be grounded in serious reason(s). However, if you have grounds for ending your marriage, the sooner you get legal guidance, the better chance you’ll have of avoiding any unnecessary delays. This will also help you seek any protective orders you may need to keep yourself and your family safe.