Arizona law allows a special kind of marriage called a “covenant marriage” in addition to standard marriage. This is a marriage specifically undertaken with the intention for it to last a lifetime. You agree to choose carefully, receive premarital counseling and “take all reasonable efforts” to resolve any marital difficulties, including receiving marital counseling.
You entered into a covenant marriage in good faith, believing that you could make it work. Now, it has become clear that the marriage is irretrievably broken.
You can get a divorce after a covenant marriage. There are situations where even a covenant marriage needs to be ended. Examples include one spouse’s drug abuse, a felony conviction, or abuse against you or a member of your household. Every situation is different, however, and you can also get a divorce from a covenant marriage after a period of living apart with no intention of resuming the marriage.
Once you have made all reasonable efforts to preserve your covenant marriage, you can file for divorce. You just need grounds or the agreement of your spouse.
In order for a court to grant you a divorce from a covenant marriage, it must find one of the following:
- Your spouse has committed adultery
- Your spouse has been convicted of a felony and been sentenced to imprisonment or death
- Your spouse has habitually abused drugs or alcohol
- Your spouse has physically or sexually abused you, a child or a member of the household, or has committed domestic violence or emotional abuse
- Your spouse has abandoned the matrimonial home for at least a year and refuses to return
- You and your spouse have been living apart, continuously and without reconciliation, for at least two years
- You and your spouse have been living apart, continuously and without reconciliation, for at least a year after a decree of legal separation
- You and your spouse agree to a dissolution of your marriage
It’s important to note that your case will not be dismissed if you fail to show that enough time has passed. Instead, the case will be held until the required time period has passed.
Can we negotiate our divorce?
Yes. As with any marriage, your divorce (called a “dissolution”) will require you to resolve several important issues:
- Division of the couple’s community property
- Parental decision-making and parenting time
- Child support
- Spousal support, if any
You can work to develop a resolution of these issues through negotiation, mediation or another out-of-court dispute resolution method. If you can resolve all of your issues out of court, you can present your divorce agreement to the court for approval. Assuming it is approved, your agreement will be incorporated into a divorce decree.
If there are issues you can’t agree on, you can also take your case to trial in family court. In such a case, the court will divide your community property, assign parental decision-making authority, set up a parenting schedule and determine support based on the circumstances of your case and Arizona law.