A covenant marriage is a distinct and rare form of legal marriage in Arizona. Arizona has recognized covenant marriage laws since 1998. These laws–for those who choose the option of invoking them–are a return to the days when fault or mutual consent had to exist in order for a legal separation or divorce to occur.
How Can You Enter into a Covenant Marriage?
A covenant marriage can be entered into by a couple submitting a written statement about covenant marriages as specified by statute, and by confirming their attendance at pre-marital/covenant marriage counseling. Existing marriages may also be converted to covenant marriages.
Covenant Marriage and Divorce
Once a covenant marriage exists, a divorce decree may only be entered by a court for the following reasons:
- The non-filing spouse has committed adultery or committed a felony with a sentence of death or imprisonment
- The non-filing spouse refuses to return to the marital residence after a one-year absence or a two-year separation without reconciliation exists
- The non-filing spouse has been physically, sexually or emotionally abusive or committed an act of domestic violence
- The non-filing spouse habitually abuses drugs or alcohol
- Both husband and wife agree to the divorce
A decree of legal separation in a covenant marriage can be obtained based on any of these grounds. This can also occur if the non-filing spouse’s “habitual intemperance” or “ill treatment” makes living together “insupportable.” Moreover, a decree of legal separation in a covenant marriage can also serve as a basis for a divorce if it was entered at least a year before the divorce is filed and there has been no reconciliation during that time.
Contact us at Hallier Stearns PLC to learn more about how to handle divorce with covenant marriages.