Arizona Divorce: Covenant Marriages

Is the divorce process different for Arizona covenant marriages?

Throughout the course of this blog, divorce has generally been discussed in terms of basic marriage agreements. Under these circumstances, an individual doesn’t need a specific reason to file for divorce. In other words, it is a no-fault arrangement.

It’s worth noting, however, that Arizona law offers another option: covenant marriage. Not only is the process to get married under this arrangement slightly different than a “standard” marriage, but so too is the process to get divorced or legally separated.

As a point of reference, a covenant marriage is a marriage arrangement that one man and one woman can enter to in the state of Arizona after they’ve gone through premarital counseling and sign a written statement. The binding legal statement strongly emphasizes the commitment involved in marriage. Generally speaking, it’s more difficult to move forward with divorce in a covenant marriage.

When can a covenant marriage proceed with divorce?

At the same time, the state law specifically lays out eight situations in which people in a covenant marriage can proceed with the divorce. According to the Arizona Supreme Court, the following situations provide grounds for divorce in this type of arrangement:

  • Infidelity
  • One spouse has committed a serious felony punishable by death or life in prison
  • The spouse on the receiving end of the divorce filing has abandoned the family home for at least one year
  • A spouse has committed sexual assault against a relative
  • Both spouses have been living apart for two years with no intention of reuniting
  • A legal separation has been followed and enforced for one year
  • The spouse receiving the divorce request abuses alcohol or drugs
  • Both of the spouses decide that divorce is the right move

Even before couples married under this sort of arrangement can begin to think about property division, child custody, and child support, they must meet very specific conditions. As such, the burden to move forward with divorce — even if it is the right move — could become tedious without clear guidance.

Arizona Supreme Court, “Covenant Marriage in Arizona,” accessed July 10, 2014