What is a Covenant Marriage?

what is a covenant marriageGetting married is one of the biggest steps that people take in life. It is one of those turning point moments that define a person’s course. It is often the beginning of a family and a lifetime of great moments. However, marriages also have ups and downs. In many cases, divorce is the only way forward for some couples.

The divorce rate in Arizona is around the national average, with 3.5 divorces per 1,000 people. While the divorce rate may seem high, you should know that it is essentially half of what it was in 1990. Arizona, along with the rest of the country, has seen a decrease in rates of divorce over the last few decades.

Getting divorced in Arizona seems like a simple process. In reality, it can become very difficult. What can make it even tougher is getting divorced if you are in a “covenant marriage.”

What Is A Covenant Marriage?

Starting in 1998, couples in Arizona could enter into covenant marriages. This type of marriage did not replace traditional marriages but gave couples more options. It also came with additional steps before the marriage could take place.

They enter into a covenant marriage, a couple must first undergo premarital counseling from a marriage counselor or a member of the clergy. Once that is complete, the couple must sign a special declaration of their intention to enter a covenant marriage on their application form for a marriage license.

To understand the seriousness in which covenant marriages are given in Arizona, we want to give you an excerpt of the exact language that must be used in the declaration:

“We solemnly declare that marriage is a covenant between a man and a woman who agree to live together as husband and wife for as long as they both live. We have chosen each other carefully and have received premarital counseling on the nature, purposes and responsibilities of marriage. We understand that a covenant marriage is for life. If we experience marital difficulties, we commit ourselves to take all reasonable efforts to preserve our marriage, including marital counseling. With full knowledge of what this commitment means, we do declare that our marriage will be bound by Arizona law on covenant marriages and we promise to love, honor and care for one another as husband and wife for the rest of our lives.”

However, there are also additional steps needed for dissolving a covenant marriage.

Getting Out Of A Covenant Marriage

Arizona is a “no-fault” state when it comes to divorce for regular marriages. This means that one party only need to assert that they believe the marriage is irretrievably broken in order for a divorce to take place.

Covenant marriages are not that easy to get out of. Following Arizona law, there are only eight reasons in which a covenant marriage divorce will be granted:

  1. Spouse commits adultery.
  2. Spouse commits a felony and is sent to prison.
  3. Spouse has left the matrimonial home for more than a year.
  4. Spouse sexually or physically abuses the other spouse or other household members.
  5. Spouses have lived separately with no reconciliation for two or more years.
  6. Spouses have lived apart for one year or longer after legally separating.
  7. Spouse is a habitual drug or alcohol abuser.
  8. Spouses both agree to dissolve the marriage.

What You Can Do Now

Because of the added burden of dissolving a covenant marriage, it is strongly recommended that you secure assistance from a qualified and experienced Arizona family law attorney to help you through the process.

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