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Understanding the Peculiar Covenant Marriage Available in Arizona
Arizona has a specific law allowing couples to enter into a “covenant marriage.” But beware – this form of marriage comes with severe limitations if you decide to separate from your significant other.
What is a Covenant Marriage?
Under A.R.S. § 25-906, the state of Arizona incorporated a different type of marriage called “covenant marriage” which limits the reasons a valid legal separation or divorce can be granted by an Arizona court. Covenant marriage does not replace the “traditional” marriage already available to the public at large. Instead it offers a different option to Arizona couples who wish to marry.
People who are already married also have the right to convert their marriage to a covenant marriage. If you desire to make this conversion (though there is no real benefit for making such a change), it is not necessary to have premarital counseling or to apply for a marriage license and go through a marriage ceremony. To convert a marriage, you simply have to pay a fee to the Clerk of the Superior Court and submit a declaration like the one for unmarried persons seeking a covenant marriage and a sworn statement listing the names and Social Security numbers of you and your spouse, along with the date and place your marriage ceremony was performed.
Steps Necessary to Enter Into a Covenant Marriage
The couple first must have premarital counseling with a member of the clergy or a marriage counselor. Second, when applying for a license to be married, both persons must show their intention to enter into a covenant marriage by signing a declaration on the marriage application form. In a covenant marriage, dissolution of marriage (i.e. a divorce) can only be granted by a court for specific reasons listed in the state statute.
Limited Legal Reasons to Dissolve a Covenant Marriage
For a covenant marriage, the court can only grant a divorce if one of these factors can be proven:
- There is verifiable evidence of adultery;
- A spouse committed serious felony crime and has been sentenced to death or imprisonment;
- For at least one year before the divorce case is filed, there is evidence that a spouse abandoned the home where the married couple resided and refuses to return;
- There is evidence that a spouse physically or sexually abused the other spouse, a child or a relative of either spouse who lives permanently in the married couple’s home, or committed domestic violence or emotional abuse;
- There is evidence that a spouse regularly abuses drugs or alcohol.
- The spouses both agree to a divorce.
Contact a Tempe Divorce Lawyer for Help
As you can see, a covenant marriage is unique and getting divorced will require hiring an attorney who understands the nuances of the marriage covenant statute. The Law Office of Ronald L. Kossack is here to help. We provide a free initial consultation to discuss your family law matter and how we can be of assistance. To speak with a Tempe divorce lawyer about your legal matter contact us online or by calling 480-345-2652.