Covenant Marriages in Arizona: A Comprehensive Guide

Arizona Covenant Marriage Attorneys

Marriage is a sacred bond between two individuals, but for some couples, the commitment goes even deeper with the concept of a covenant marriage. While traditional marriages offer a legal union, covenant marriages take it a step further by adding additional requirements and restrictions aimed at strengthening the marital bond. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the intricacies of covenant marriages in Arizona, exploring what they entail, how they differ from regular marriages, and the process of dissolving a covenant marriage if it doesn’t work out. Additionally, we’ll discuss the importance of seeking legal assistance from experienced Arizona family law attorneys to navigate the complexities of covenant marriages and divorce proceedings.

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What is a Covenant Marriage?

A covenant marriage is a legally distinct form of marriage that imposes stricter requirements and obligations on the spouses. In addition to the usual marriage vows, couples entering into a covenant marriage commit to seeking marital counseling before divorcing and may only divorce under limited circumstances.

Which States Recognize Covenant Marriages?

Currently, only a handful of states recognize covenant marriages, including Arizona, Arkansas, and Louisiana. Each state has its own specific laws and requirements governing covenant marriages.

Differences Between Covenant Marriage & Regular Marriage in Arizona

  • Covenant Marriage: Couples entering into a covenant marriage must attend premarital counseling and sign a declaration stating their commitment to the marriage. They also agree to seek counseling before divorcing, and may only divorce for specific reasons outlined in state law.
  • Regular Marriage: In contrast, a regular marriage in Arizona does not require premarital counseling or adherence to specific grounds for divorce. Couples can choose to divorce for any reason recognized under state law.

What are the Steps to Covenant Marriage?

Entering into a covenant marriage in Arizona involves several steps:

  • Attend Premarital Counseling: Couples must undergo premarital counseling with a qualified counselor or member of the clergy. The counseling sessions are designed to explore important marital topics and prepare the couple for the challenges they may face in marriage.
  • Sign a Declaration of Intent: After completing premarital counseling, the couple must sign a declaration of intent to enter into a covenant marriage. This document signifies their commitment to the marriage and their agreement to abide by the additional requirements imposed on covenant marriages.
  • Obtain a Marriage License: Like in any marriage, couples must obtain a marriage license from the county clerk’s office before the wedding ceremony can take place.

Do Less Covenant Marriages End in Divorce?

Statistics on the success rates of covenant marriages compared to traditional marriages vary. While some proponents of covenant marriages argue that they lead to lower divorce rates due to the additional commitment and counseling requirements, others suggest that there is little difference in divorce rates between covenant and traditional marriages. Ultimately, the success of a marriage depends on the individuals involved and the effort they put into maintaining the relationship.

How Can I Get a Divorce If I Am in a Covenant Marriage?

Despite the additional requirements and restrictions, couples in covenant marriages can still seek divorce under certain circumstances. In Arizona, the grounds for divorce in a covenant marriage include:

  • Adultery: If one spouse commits adultery, the other spouse may file for divorce.
  • Felony Conviction: If one spouse is convicted of a felony and sentenced to death or imprisonment, the other spouse may file for divorce.
  • Abandonment: If one spouse abandons the marital home for at least one year and refuses to return, the other spouse may file for divorce.
  • Physical or Sexual Abuse: If one spouse subjects the other to physical or sexual abuse, the abused spouse may file for divorce.
  • Living Separately: If the spouses have been living separately and apart for at least two years, either spouse may file for divorce.

What is the Purpose of a Covenant Marriage in Arizona?

The purpose of covenant marriage in Arizona is to promote and preserve the sanctity of marriage by encouraging couples to make a more committed and intentional commitment to each other. By requiring premarital counseling and limiting the grounds for divorce, covenant marriages aim to reduce the incidence of divorce and strengthen marital bonds.

What to Do If You Are in a Covenant Marriage and It Is Not Working Out

If you find yourself in a covenant marriage that is no longer sustainable or healthy, it’s essential to take proactive steps to address the situation:

  • Seek Marital Counseling: Before pursuing divorce, consider seeking marital counseling to explore whether there are ways to address the issues in your marriage and improve your relationship.
  • Consult with a Family Law Attorney: Discuss your options with a knowledgeable family law attorney who can advise you on the legal implications of divorce and help you understand your rights and obligations under Arizona law.
  • Consider Mediation: Mediation can be an effective alternative to traditional divorce litigation, allowing couples to work together with a neutral mediator to reach mutually agreeable solutions regarding property division, child custody, and other issues.

Steps to Dissolving a Covenant Marriage in AZ

  • File a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage: To initiate the divorce process, one spouse must file a petition for dissolution of marriage with the family court in the county where either spouse resides. The petition should include information about the grounds for divorce and any requests for temporary orders regarding child custody, support, or spousal maintenance.
  • Serve the Other Spouse: After filing the petition, the filing spouse must serve a copy of the petition and summons on the other spouse, along with any other required documents.
  • Negotiate Settlement Terms: The spouses may attempt to negotiate a settlement agreement regarding issues such as property division, child custody, and spousal support. If they are unable to reach an agreement, the court may intervene and make decisions on their behalf.
  • Attend Court Hearings: Both spouses must attend court hearings as scheduled and comply with any court orders or directives issued by the judge overseeing the case.
  • Finalize the Divorce Decree: Once all issues have been resolved and any waiting periods have elapsed, the court will issue a final divorce decree, officially terminating the marriage.

Seeking Help from an Arizona Family Lawyer:

Navigating the complexities of divorce, especially in the context of a covenant marriage, can be challenging without the guidance of a knowledgeable legal professional. If you are considering divorce or facing legal issues related to a covenant marriage in Arizona, it’s crucial to seek the assistance of an experienced family law attorney.

The attorneys at AZ Family Law Lawyers have extensive experience in handling covenant marriages and divorce proceedings in Arizona. They can provide expert guidance and representation to help you navigate the legal process and protect your rights and interests. Whether you need assistance with filing for divorce, negotiating a settlement agreement, or resolving disputes related to child custody or support, contact us today, our team is here to help.

Call (480) 263-1699 for a free consultation today.

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