In 1998, Arizona incorporated into statute a new type of marriage called “covenant marriage.” To enter into a covenant marriage, the couple must first have counseling from a member of the clergy or a marriage counselor. Then, when applying for a license to be married, both persons must show their intention to enter into a covenant marriage by signing a special statement on the application form. In a covenant marriage, divorce may be granted by the court only for specific reasons. To get a divorce, any of the following reasons must be proved to the court:
- A spouse has committed a felony and been sentenced to prison or death
- Abandonment by one spouse for at least one year (absent from the home and refuses to return). Papers can be filed with the court prior to the completion of a year of abandonment if there is an expectation that the abandonment will continue, but the court will not move forward with the divorce until the year is fulfilled.
- A spouse has physically or sexually abused a spouse, a child or a relative who lives in the home
- A spouse has committed domestic violence – physical or emotional abuse
- The spouses have been living separate and apart for two years. Again, papers can be filed prior to two years, but the case will not move forward until the two-year requirement has been fulfilled.
- The spouses have already been granted a legal separation and have lived apart for one year
- Regularly occurring abuse of alcohol or drugs
- Both spouses agree to divorce
If you have questions about entering into a covenant marriage orabout dissolving a covenant marriage, contact an experienced family law attorney.