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Covenant marriages have more prerequisites than traditional marriages, and they also offer more restrictions on divorce.
In theory, these requirements are present in order to strengthen marriages. Studies show that couples who receive counseling are less likely to divorce, and the limited reasons for divorce also make separation less common when compared to traditional marriages.
Benefits of Covenant Marriage
Proponents of covenant marriages say they help:
- Lower divorce and separation rates
- Ensure a strong relationship prior to marriage
- Strengthen the concept of marriage
Although covenant marriages are not necessarily religious or identified with specific religious groups, there are strong ties between religious denominations and covenant marriages.
How to Get a Covenant Marriage in Arizona
There are several requirements that a couple must need in order to be granted a covenant marriage.
These requirements are:
- Agreement with a written statement provided by the state
- Receiving premarital counseling from a clergy member or marriage counselor
- Notarized statement from clergy member or counselor confirming premarital counseling
Couples who are already married through a traditional marriage can convert theirs to a covenant marriage by submitting to the same written statement, though they aren’t required to receive premarital counseling.
Divorce Limitations in a Covenant Marriage
One of the most important parts of a covenant marriage is the limited reasons couples can cite when requesting a divorce, or dissolution of marriage.
In traditional marriages in Arizona, dissolution of marriage doesn’t require any specific action on one spouse or another, making Arizona a “no-fault” divorce state. A spouse can file for divorce simply because he or she wants to, not because of any fault or action within the marriage.
This is not the case with a covenant marriage in Arizona. In fact, there are only eight situations in which a covenant marriage can be dissolved.
According to A.R.S. 25-903, divorce can only occur when:
- A spouse commits adultery.
- A spouse commits a felony and is imprisoned.
- A spouse has abandoned the matrimonial home for a year or longer
- A spouse has physically or sexually abused the other spouse, or other members of the household
- The spouses have lived apart without reconciliation for two years or longer
- The spouses have lived apart for at least one year after being legally separated
- A spouse habitually abuses drugs or alcohol.
- Both spouses agree to the dissolution of marriage.
Similarly, the grounds for legal separation are limited, and include many of the above scenarios, as well as the “habitual intemperance” or poor treatment of spouses that disrupt the marriage.
During the divorce process, a temporary order may be entered to help organize the couple’s affairs, including custody, support and living arrangements.
Learn More About Covenant Marriages
To learn more about covenant marriages, or divorce for covenant marriages, contact the family law team at JacksonWhite. Each year we help families and individuals work through difficult legal issues with sensitivity and ethical, superior legal help.
Call the Family Law Team at (480) 467-4348 to discuss your case today.
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