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Oklahoma State Senate
Communications Division
State Capitol
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73105

For Immediate Release: February 5, 2013

Sen. Josh Brecheen
Sen. Josh Brecheen

Covenant Marriage bill approved in Senate Committee

Three states – Arkansas, Arizona and Louisiana – have legalized covenant marriage, and Sen. Josh Brecheen wants to do the same in Oklahoma in an effort to lower the state’s high divorce rate. Senate Bill 105 was approved unanimously Tuesday by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“According to the latest U.S. Census Bureau data, Oklahoma has the highest divorce rate in the nation. One out of every three currently married Oklahomans have been divorced,” said Brecheen, R-Coalgate. “Love is a choice. You don’t fall in and out of it accidentally. It’s something you have to work at every day and make a conscience decision to do whatever it takes to make the marriage work excluding cases of abandonment, adultery and abuse. Covenant marriage is an O-P-T-I-O-N for those who are serious about making a stronger life-long commitment than that of a traditional marriage.”

Unlike a traditional marriage, in order to get a license for a covenant marriage, a couple must attend premarital counseling. There are also fewer reasons why couples are allowed to get a divorce in a covenant marriage. While there are twelve grounds for divorce in a traditional marriage, there are only five in a covenant marriage including adultery, physical or psychological abuse of the spouse or any children in the home, abandonment for one year, having been separated for a year without successful reconciliation through counseling, or fraudulently entering into the marriage.

With a year of separation and unsuccessful reconciliation through counseling, divorce can still be granted.

“The point of covenant marriage is not to make divorce impossible but to ensure that couples make every effort to reconcile when possible,” said Brecheen. “We must do something to slow the growing rate of divorce in our state. According to statistics, divorce not only increases a state’s poverty rate, but also inflicts psychological and social damage upon children that can be carried into adulthood.”

Brecheen noted that one of the most common causes of divorce can be addressed in counseling.

“According to statistics, financial disagreements are the leading cause of divorce for our state. Such issues can be mitigated through the counseling required under covenant marriage and the “cooling off period” that allows couples to seek a more introspective review of their actions and their initial vow of ‘til death do us part’.”

Between one and three percent of all marriage applications in Arkansas, Arizona and Louisiana are for covenant marriage.

“I recognize this won’t be the total solution to our state’s high rate of divorce but like any good public policy it would have a positive impact on some within our state and is therefore worthy of our time. If this only saved one marriage or one family it would be more than worth it.”

The title was stricken to allow the authors to continue working on the bill. SB 105 will now go before the full Senate for further consideration.

For more information contact:
Sen. Brecheen: (405) 521-5586

Inon: Horizontal Blue Band

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