Covenant Marriage Information

How does a covenant marriage differ from a traditional marriage?

The covenant marriage differs both in the steps necessary to get married and the reasons why a legal separation or divorce may be granted by the court.  In a covenant marriage, legal separation or divorce is only granted for specific reasons listed in state law.

Steps for entering into a covenant marriage:

  1. Premarital counseling - the couple must have counseling that is provided either by a member of the clergy or a marriage counselor.  The facilitator of the counseling signs an affidavit that is submitted when applying for a marriage license.
  2. Apply for a marriage license - to qualify for a marriage license both individuals must have a valid, government-issued, ID and be 18 years old or over; if under the age of 18 a legal parent or guardian has to be present to sign the application
  3. Declare intentions - a special statement agreeing to the covenant marriage clause must be signed on the marriage license application form.  The wording for the statement is:
    1. We solemnly declare that marriage is a covenant between a man and a woman who agree to live together as husband and wife for as long as they both live.  We have chosen each other carefully and have received premarital counseling on the nature, purposes, and responsibilities of marriage.  We understand that a covenant marriage is for life.  If we experience marital difficulties, we commit ourselves to take all reasonable efforts to preserve our marriage, including marital counseling.  With full knowledge of what this commitment means, we do declare that our marriage will be bound by Arizona law on covenant marriages and we promise to love, honor, and care for one another as husband and wife for the rest of our lives.
  4. Witness of signatures - A court clerk must witness the signatures of both individuals looking to be wed.  With the license application a sworn, notarized statement from the member of the clergy or marriage counselor who provided the premarital counseling.  This statement must confirm that the individuals were advised about the nature and purpose of a covenant marriage and the limited reasons for ending the marriage by legal separation or divorce.  The statement must also show that a copy of this informational pamphlet was given to each person.

Limited Legal Reasons to Get a Divorce

For a covenant marriage, the court can only grant a dissolution of marriage for limited reasons:

  1. The respondent has committed adultery
  2. The respondent has committed a serious crime and has been sentenced to death or imprisonment
  3. For at least one year before the divorce case if filed, the respondent has been absent from the home where the married couple resided and refuses to return.
    1. Exception: If the one year term has not been met, you may still file, but the court will wait to hear the case until the one-year requirement is met.  During this time temporary orders for things like parenting time, child support, and spousal support
  4. The respondent has committed sexual, physical, emotional abuse, or an act of domestic violence against a member of the family or resident of the home
  5. The spouses have been living separate and apart without getting back together for at least two years before a divorce was filed.
    1. Exception: If the two year term has not been met, you may still file, but the court will wait to hear the case until the two-year requirement is met.  During this time temporary orders for things like parenting time, child support, and spousal support
  6. The spouses already have been granted a legal separation by the court, and they have been living separate and apart for at least one year from the date of legal separation
  7. The respondent has regularly abused drugs or alcohol
  8. The spouses both agree to a divorce

Limited Legal Reasons to Get a Separation

For a covenant marriage, the court can only grant a legal separation for limited reasons:

  1. The respondent has committed adultery
  2. The respondent has committed a serious crime and has been sentenced to death or imprisonment
  3. For at least one year before the divorce case if filed, the respondent has been absent from the home where the married couple resided and refuses to return.
    1. Exception: If the one year term has not been met, you may still file, but the court will wait to hear the case until the one-year requirement is met.  During this time temporary orders for things like parenting time, child support, and spousal support
  4. The respondent has committed sexual, physical, emotional abuse, or an act of domestic violence against a member of the family or resident of the home
  5. The spouses have been living separate and apart without getting back together for at least two years before a divorce was filed.
    1. Exception: If the two year term has not been met, you may still file, but the court will wait to hear the case until the two-year requirement is met.  During this time temporary orders for things like parenting time, child support, and spousal support
  6. Regular abuse of alcohol or ill treatment of a spouse by the respondent makes living intolerable
  7. The respondent has regularly abused drugs or alcohol

Resources:

pdf Covenant Marriage Booklet (174 KB)

pdf Covenant Marriage Booklet Spanish (402 KB)

pdf Covenant Marriage Affidavit (45 KB)

 

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This website has been prepared for general information purposes only. The information on this website is not legal advice. Legal advice is dependent upon the specific circumstances of each situation. Also, the law may vary from state-to-state or county-to-county, so that some information in this website may not be correct for your situation. Finally, the information contained on this website is not guaranteed to be up to date. Therefore, the information contained in this website cannot replace the advice of competent legal counsel licensed in your jurisdiction.

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