State Senator seeks to pass bill to offer covenant marriages
Alabama, and the American South in general, has the highest divorce rates in the country. According to the US Census Bureau, in 2009, 12.7 of every 1,000 Alabaman men 15 and older divorced. The national rate was 9.2 per 1,000. About 14 of every 1,000 women divorced, compared to a national rate of 9.7. These are the numbers that State Senator Phil Williams wants to curb with a bill he introduced in the state senate that would make covenant marriages an option to future betrothed.
A covenant marriage is a pact that a couple signs where they agree to go to pre-marital counseling and agree to a limited set of grounds for divorce. A spouse could ask a judge to grant a divorce without first seeking counseling if there is proof the other spouse had committed adultery, abused the filing spouse or their children, committed a felony or had left the family home for more than a year and refused to return.
Such a law is already in the books in Louisiana, and the statistics already show a decrease in divorce among those married with the pact—although, those numbers just follow the overall trend of divorce numbers going down in the state. However, it may have been exactly the type of traction Williams needed—the bill passed the Senate Judiciary Committee with a vote of 5-1, which leads it to the senate floor to be voted on.
However, many people aren't thrilled that this law could be passed, including Birmingham-area State Senator Linda Coleman. When asked why, Coleman said she feared couples would agree to the pact even though it isn't mandatory, only an option. She also called the bill an overreach by the government into the lives of citizens.