When you entered into a covenant marriage, you assumed that marriage would last for a lifetime. You both agreed to marry thoughtfully, get premarital counseling and to go to marital counseling – and take other reasonable steps – to resolve your difficulties. Despite all your efforts, however, your marriage needs to end.
Yes, you can dissolve a covenant marriage in Arizona. It just takes a little more time and effort than it would for a non-covenant marriage. For example, it is common to present fault-based grounds for the divorce, while in a standard marriage you can simply say the marriage is irretrievably broken.
Do I need to allege that my spouse was abusive or at fault?
Not necessarily, although you do want to be honest about why you’re divorcing. There are numerous fault-based grounds for divorce from a covenant marriage, but not all of the grounds are fault-based. In order to divorce from a covenant marriage, you will have to show one of the following has happened:
- Adultery by your spouse
- Felony conviction and imprisonment of your spouse
- Habitual abuse of drugs or alcohol by your spouse
- Physical abuse, sexual abuse, domestic violence or emotional abuse against you, a child or a member of the household
- Abandonment by your spouse of the marital home (at least a year)
- Living apart without reconciliation for at least two years
- Living apart without reconciliation for at least a year after getting legally separated
- Agreement by both spouses to end the marriage
Can we settle the divorce out of court?
If you would prefer to divorce without going through a trial, you can negotiate the issues of divorce, which include:
- Division of property and debt
- Parenting time and decision-making
- Child support
- Spousal support, if any
If you already agree on most of the issues of your divorce, you should be able to negotiate an agreement you both can live with. This will need to be approved by a judge and will be incorporated into a divorce decree.
Any issues you can’t come to agreement on must generally be decided by the family court. The more you can agree on, the less the court will need to decide.
Divorcing from a covenant marriage was meant to be more challenging than from a standard marriage, but it was not meant to be impossible. Talk to an experienced divorce lawyer about the steps you need to take.