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What is a covenant marriage in Arkansas?

Do you watch the show "19 Kids & Counting"? If so, you may have seen that one of the stars from the program got married in Arkansas so that she and her husband could get a covenant marriage. Only three different states have this option, and Arkansas is one of them. However, having seen this, you may have found yourself wondering what type of marriage this really is.

On the whole, it is a marriage that is more committed than a traditional marriage. This starts with marriage counseling before the ceremony. It also includes an agreement from both parties that they will turn back to counseling if they have trouble anywhere down the line.

However, it is worth noting that the regulations, while saying that couples should try reasonably to keep the marriage together, do not say that counseling is mandatory; this is to keep a person who is being abused from having no way to escape.

There are only three main things that can lead to divorce in a covenant marriage, setting it apart from a traditional marriage, which can be dissolved for many reasons. A CM dictates that a couple can only split up if there is physical or sexual abuse, if one spouse is unfaithful or if one spouse commits an "infamous" crime, such as a felony. When looking at abuse, actions against a child can also be used as the basis for a divorce.

If you are thinking of getting married, make sure that you understand what rights to a divorce you have, based on the type of marriage that you choose.

Source: The Center for Healthy Relationships, "Covenant Marriages" Oct. 29, 2014

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