What is Covenant Marriage? How Is It Different From Traditional Marriage?

August 5, 2021

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The idea of a covenant marriage is what draws many couples to this type of relationship. It promises an unbreakable bond that cannot be dissolved no matter what happens. However, what are the other differences between this and a traditional marriage? And what does it mean for you? In this blog post, we will discuss what a covenant marriage is and how it differs from a traditional one.

First of all, let’s discuss what it really is.

What is Covenant Marriage?

A covenant marriage is what some people consider to be the only true, honest form of a legal union. It can’t easily be broken by divorce or separation and has “covenant integrity.”

The idea behind this type of marriage is that it begins with both spouses understanding what they are committing themselves to in terms of their faith and what it means to them.

Covenant marriages are referred to as a sacred covenant. It is more than just an agreement and commitment that they will remain faithful. This type of marriage demands what we would term the highest level of responsibility from both parties. Not only when things are going well but in times of difficulty as well.

What are the differences between a Covenant Marriage and a Traditional one?

The major difference between these two types of marriages is that if you divorce, there’s not much to consider in terms of alimony or court fees involved. In fact, once divorced with a covenant marriage, both parties agree to never remarry again. This agreement cannot be dissolved even on deathbeds unless by mutual consent from each party before they die – because their children will still need financial support!

Another big difference here comes down to how religious communities respond to these types of unions. Generally, churches will not approve of  a covenant marriage if the couple is too young or have been married before – and it’s difficult for them to obtain this type of union in certain countries.

But what does it mean for you?

If you are considering getting married (and we hope that you are!). It’s important not to make your decision based on what others think of what type of marriage is “best”. The most important thing, as with anything in life, is what you believe and what makes sense for YOU.

You must consider what type of marriage would be best for your relationship and the implications it might have on others, such as children or anyone else who could potentially come into the marriage with you.

In a covenant marriage, each spouse agrees to not only provide financial support but emotional support – even if they don’t want to.

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When Should You Choose Covenant Marriage?

So what is the best type of marriage for you? The covenant one or a traditional one? Well, that’s entirely up to you to decide.

Covenant marriages are only made in a state of commitment and understanding – it’s not for everyone, especially if your relationship status changes or becomes unstable at any time. However, if the idea behind a covenant marriage appeals to what both spouses want from their union then that could be the best type of marriage for you.

Requirements Before Entering Into a Covenant Marriage

Couples must meet “covenant requirements” before they are able to enter into this kind of marriage.

These include:

  • Both parties must be at least 18 years of age or older, with the exception of those who have been married previously and wish to remarry in covenant marriage.
  • They must be unmarried and not in what is termed as a “de facto marriage.”
  • Both parties should have been living together for at least three years.
  • They cannot have any other spouse or partner who has to approve the union unless it’s a same sex relationship where one party is transgendered – but this also requires what is called a “transgendered marriage license”
  • One cannot have what we term as a sexually transmitted disease.
  • They must not be pregnant at the time of tying the knot into this sacred covenant.
  • They are free to enter and exit from covenant marriage with mutual consent of both parties.
  • Covenant marriage lasts until death, unless both individuals agree to what we term as a dissolution of the contract by mutual consent before they die.

Attending Marriage Counseling Is Advised Before You Take Step

If you are considering covenant marriage, one of the most important steps is that both parties must attend counseling before making sacred vows.

The counselor will be able to give an opinion on whether or not this type of union would suit your needs and what it means for each party – but they won’t make the decision for what type of marriage is best.

Don’t make a rash, impulsive decision that will affect both people in your life. Know what each party wants out of the union – it’s not worth any sacrifice if you are going to be unhappy in the later stage.

It can take time even when two people are in the perfect relationship to get what both parties want out of covenant marriage.

You should take your time to make a well-informed decision. It can be difficult for either party if they enter into a covenant without knowing what this means for the other person and how it will affect what they want.

Apply For Marriage License Afterwards

Once you’ve both agreed for covenant marriage, it’s time to apply for a marriage license.

The laws in this area vary from state-to-state – so be sure that the requirements are met before applying!

Some states require couples who want a covenant marriage to file a “covenant marriage petition” in the courts, while others may require couples to have traditional vows.

The process of applying for covenant marriage can be difficult or complicated – so it’s worth making sure that you know what type of laws apply before entering into this agreement.

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There are also “emergency marriage declarations” that can be used when a couple wants to get married quickly or without any of the traditional steps.

It is advised to contact an attorney before entering into this type of union – because it could have legal implications on property, taxes and what other rights you might not want to waive.

Declare Intentions On Marriage License

Once you and your spouse are at the courthouse, what is required for a marriage license is going to depend on what type of agreement you have made.

Some couples may need to declare that they’re entering into a covenant marriage in addition to completing what we would consider traditional steps – such as signing their names onto an “identification certificate” or what we term as “proof of marriage.”

Whatever the requirements are for your state, be sure to declare what type of agreement you have before applying for a license.

It’s important to note that this isn’t like an “emergency wedding”. It can take time even if both parties want this marriage.

It’s also important for both parties in any future agreement – especially if they are thinking about having children.

Attestation Affidavit

The attestation affidavit should be filled out by both parties before applying for a marriage license.

The requirements vary from state-to-state. But in general it will ask what each party wants and if they have access to any children or dependents who may need protection under a “guardian.”

Be sure to have this form completed and signed before entering into covenant marriage.

If you are not married, both parties will need to fill out an attestation affidavit of what their relationship is – including what type of property they share or what each party does with any income.

This information will determine what kind of protections are needed in case the marriage ends.

Review and Sign Covenant Marriage Agreement

There is a form that needs to be completed before you get married – “covenant marriage agreement.” It’s important for both parties to review this document and sign it. So they know what type of marriage they are entering and what type of protections they have.

This document will outline what happens to property, taxes & what rights you may lose when you enter into covenant marriage. So it’s important that both parties review this before signing anything!

Consult with an attorney if the agreement is unclear or contains clauses that either party would not like to waive.

Reasons For A Couple To Legally Separate or Divorce From Covenant Marriage:

  • The non-filing spouse commits an act of domestic violence punishable under laws.
  • Non-filing spouse committed a “felony” and has been incarcerated for more than one year.
  • The non-filing spouse has been convicted of an act that violates a condition imposed by the judge, such as abstaining from alcohol.
  • A court order mandates separation or divorce because one spouse is not fulfilling his/her marital duties to the other.
  • One spouse commits adultery with consenting partners and does so repeatedly and without remorse for at least six months.
  • One spouse suffers from a physical or mental illness that is incurable and requires care permanently, such as dementia. 
  • The spouses have been living apart for two years with no plans to reconcile in the foreseeable future.
  • A court order mandates separation or divorce because one spouse has engaged in conduct toward the other which demonstrates contempt of court, disobedience of court orders or willful neglect.
  • A court order mandates separation or divorce because property settlement terms have not been agreed to by the spouses within six months after one spouse requested them from the other.
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Can I Convert A Traditional Marriage Into Covenant Marriage?

Yes, you can!

Covenant marriage is a legally binding promise to God and spouse. The benefits are having the security of knowing that only one person will be your lifetime partner, but also in being able to renew vows on special occasions such as anniversaries or birthdays. It’s not difficult if you know the steps needed for converting an existing traditional marriage into a covenant marriage.

Here is how you can convert your traditional marriage into covenant marriage in simple steps:

  1. You’ll need to get your spouse’s permission before you can convert your marriage.
  2. If you don’t already have a prenuptial agreement, now is the time for both of you to sign one. This will ensure each other’s rights are protected after conversion into covenant marriage.
  3. Contact an attorney. Update any legal documents that need to be changed–such as a will, trust or power of attorney.
  4. If you want this marriage conversion to happen in the state where one spouse lives. Then contact your county clerk and ask how it can be done there.
  5. Submit declaration of intent to convert marriage into a covenant in order to complete the conversion process.
  6. Finally, there is one more thing you need to do after submitting your declaration of intent: have both spouses sign and date it in front of someone who can act as an official witness–such as a judge, notary public or other family member over the age of 18.

Can Same Sex Couples Have Covenant Marriage If They Want To?

It depends on where you live. Certain states have approved same-sex marriage, and in those states it would be possible for both people to enter a covenant marriage. Other states haven’t passed same-sex marriage legislation yet. That said, the legal side of entering into a covenant marriage is really about two things:

  1. Finding out if your state recognizes the couple as married so that you can file jointly with IRS (http://www.irs.gov/newsroom/article/0,,id=233492,00.html)
  2. If you are already legally married (in or outside your state), then decide if either of these factors apply to have one last big gay wedding ceremony instead:
    – If the marriage is legal in one of your states, you may want to file jointly with IRS and have a big party.
    – If the marriage isn’t recognized by any state, then you may need a divorce first, or be content with being single again as far as the government is concerned.

That said, get legal advice. Some states have different rules regarding which events must be attended in person.

What are your experiences with covenant marriage? Let us know in comment section.