from Fayette Circuit Court. (DR-12-82).
Lincecum Blackburn, Appellant, Pro se.
Appellee: Thomas E. Harrison, Mobile.
Judge. Thompson, P.J., and Pittman, Moore, and Donaldson,
Lincecum Blackburn (" the wife" ) and David
Blackburn (" the husband" ) were married on
November 6, 2004, in Louisiana. The parties later moved to
Mobile; it is undisputed that the parties were residents of
Alabama when this action commenced. On January 11, 2013, the
husband filed a complaint seeking a divorce in the Mobile
Circuit Court (" the trial court" ), alleging as
grounds incompatibility of temperament and an irretrievable
breakdown of the marriage. On January 16, 2013, the wife
filed an answer to the complaint and a counterclaim seeking a
divorce in which she alleged incompatibility of temperament
and that the husband had committed acts of domestic violence.
parties subsequently filed several motions dealing with,
among other things, discovery and pendente lite support. On
July 11, 2013, the wife filed a " motion to enforce the
covenant marriage contract," in which she asserted that
the parties had been married subject to the Louisiana
Covenant Marriage Act (" the Act" ), codified at
La. Rev. Stat. Ann., § 9:272 et seq., and that the
provisions of the Act governed the divorce action between the
parties. After a hearing, the trial court entered an order on
September 6, 2013, denying the wife's motion to enforce
the parties' covenant-marriage contract.
began on Wednesday, April 16, 2014, at which the wife
appeared pro se and the trial court heard evidence ore tenus.
The trial was scheduled to continue on the next day; however,
the wife requested a continuance due to a flooding emergency
at the marital home; the trial court granted a continuance to
Monday, April 21, 2014. On that day, the trial court stated
on the record that wife was not present at the trial, that
she had requested a second continuance that morning, and that
her second request for a continuance had been denied;
the husband rested his case. The trial court entered a
judgment on April 22, 2014, divorcing the parties and
dividing the marital property. The wife filed a motion
to alter, amend, or vacate or, in the alternative, for a new
trial on May 22, 2014. After a hearing, the trial court
denied the wife's postjudgment motion on August 8, 2014.
The wife timely appealed to this court on September 19, 2014.
first issue the wife raises in her pro se brief on appeal is
whether the trial court erred by failing to enforce the Act.
The Act, enacted in 1997, provides, in part:
" A. A covenant marriage is a marriage entered into by
one male and one female who understand and agree that the
marriage between them is a lifelong relationship. ...
" B. A man and woman may contract a covenant marriage by
declaring their intent to do so on their application for a
marriage license, as provided in [La. Rev. Stat. Ann.,
9:224(C), and executing a declaration of intent to contract a
covenant marriage, as provided in [La. Rev. Stat. Ann.,]
9:273. The application for a marriage license andthe
declaration of intent shall be filed with the official who
issues the marriage license
" C. A covenant marriage terminates only for one of the
causes enumerated in [Louisiana] Civil Code Article
101. A covenant marriage may be terminated
by divorce only upon one of the exclusive grounds enumerated
in [La. Rev. Stat. Ann.,] 9:307.A covenant marriage agreement
may not be dissolved, ...