Covenant Marriages

What is a Covenant Marriage?

A Covenant Marriage is a special type of marriage only available in Arizona, Arkansas, and Louisiana. Covenant marriages comprise only a small percentage of total marriages in all three states. It is most commonly utilized by couples that participate in a religious community. The couple must complete marriage counseling classes and sign a declaration on their marriage license application. A couple in a covenant marriage can only legally separate or divorce under certain circumstances.

covenant marriage attorney in ArizonaKeep in mind, Covenant Marriages can be as specific or as basic as the members entering it choose to have it.  With only 0.25% to 1% of marriages in Arizona being Covenant Marriages, it is important to seek the assistance of an experienced Arizona family law team that can assure you get it right.

What are the steps to Covenant Marriage?

1.       The couple must first attend premarital counseling with a clergy member or marriage counselor. The counselor will sign an affidavit that the couple completed counseling to attach to their marriage application.
 
2.       The couple must write a declaration statement that will be included on their marriage application. The statement is about the couple’s love and commitment to one another, and acknowledging the permanence of their marriage.
 
3.       The couple will then fill out their marriage application, including the affidavit from their counselor and their written declaration.
 
4.       A court clerk must sign the marriage application as a witness.

Do Less Covenant Marriages end in Divorce?

The divorce rate for those in covenant marriages is less than half of those in traditional marriages. Those in covenant marriages also report higher levels of satisfaction in their marriages, but most of these effects are seen in the husbands.

How can I get a legal separation if I am in a Covenant Marriage?

You can only legally separate in a covenant marriage in certain situations. One or both spouses being unfaithful is grounds for legal separation. A spouse can be granted a legal separation if the other spouse commits a crime and ends up in jail or prison. A legal separation can be granted if one spouse abandons the home for one year or more- the filing spouse can file for separation before, but the separation won’t be granted until the year requirement is met. Legal separation will be granted if a spouse commits any domestic abuse- physical, sexual, etc. A separation can be granted if the couple has already been living separately for 2 years without any reconciliation periods. Lastly, a drinking or drug problem is grounds for legal separation.

How can I get a divorce if I am in a Covenant Marriage?

The grounds for divorce in a covenant marriage are nearly identical to those for legal separation. Additionally, a divorce can be granted for a covenant marriage if the couple has been legally separated for one year. A covenant marriage can also end in divorce if both spouses agree to the divorce. 

Covenant Marriages FAQs

ANSWER: 

Arizona is a no-fault divorce state, meaning married couples don’t need a specific reason to file  divorce- unless they are in a covenant marriage. The couple will have to complete premarital counseling and include a written declaration in their marriage application before they can wed. There is a limited list of grounds for divorce in a covenant marriage.

ANSWER: 

Louisiana does require couples to attend counseling before they will be granted a divorce. Arizona, however, does not. As long as you can present one of the acceptable reasons for divorce in a covenant marriage, you won’t be required to attend counseling to obtain a divorce.

ANSWER: 

Covenant Marriage is only available in Arizona, Arkansas, and Louisiana.

ANSWER: 

Covenant marriages account for less than 5% of marriages in Arizona. Slightly fewer than 30,000 couples got married in Arizona in 2019.

ANSWER: 

No- you can always convert your marriage to a covenant marriage. You also won’t have to attend counseling to have your marriage converted. All a couple who wants to convert needs to do is pay the court fee and submit a written statement as in the covenant marriage application, and a sworn statement with their wedding information.

ANSWER: 

The rules for minors getting married is the same for covenant marriages as it is for conventional marriages. In Arizona, minor children above the age of 16 can marry with parental approval. Minors under the age of 16 may be able to marry with parental approval and approval from a judge.

ANSWER: 

If both spouses don’t agree to the divorce, one spouse can file if they meet any of the following requirements; (1) the other spouse (respondent) has abandoned them for a prolonged period of time; (2) the respondent physically, sexually, or emotionally abused the spouse or a family member; (3) the respondent regularly abuses mind-altering substances; (4) the couple has been living separately for at least two years; (5) the respondent was unfaithful; (6) the respondent was convicted of a crime and is in prison; or (7) the couple is legally separated and has been living apart for at least one year.

ANSWER: 

If you are eligible for divorce, you will file a divorce petition just as in a conventional marriage. However, if you are divorcing for cause such as infidelity or drug use, you will need to prove it in court. Hiring an attorney is the best way to ensure the correct evidence is presented and the correct witnesses are called. You should consult with an attorney to confirm your eligibility for divorce and discuss your options.

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