In 1997, Louisiana passed its so-called covenant marriage law, which among other innovations gave marrying couples the option of voluntarily surrendering their rights to a no-fault divorce. UCF sociology professor Jim Wright along with his colleagues Steve Nock (formerly of the University of Virginia and now deceased) and Laura Sanchez (Bowling Green State University) gathered data on covenant newlyweds from 1997 to 2003 and have just published a book reporting the findings. Covenant Marriage: The Movement to Reclaim Tradition in America(Rutgers University Press, 2008) has been hailed by Scott Stanley of the University of Denver as “a brilliant achievement and a gold mine of information on marriage in the United States.[The authors]have given us a masterpiece of thought, not only on the covenant marriage law in Louisiana, but on the broader social, legal, demographic, and religious changes that contextualized this social experiment.”
A key finding is that after five years, the divorce rate for covenant couples was about half that of standard couples, a difference largely reflecting the greater religiosity of the former group. The book’s senior author, Steve Nock, was well-known to the UCF sociology department because he served a few years back as an outside evaluator of the program. He died early in 2008 from complications of diabetes.