Although not common, as a Phoenix divorce mediator, I am sometimes asked to assist with a divorce for couples who have a covenant marriage. Some couples do not even know if they have a covenant marriage. So, what is it?
In Arizona, a couple may enter into a covenant marriage. In contrast to a standard marriage, a covenant marriage has additional formalities and requirements, including premarital counseling. Unlike a standard no-fault divorce in Arizona, to obtain a divorce of a Covenant Marriage, you must have legal grounds.
A.R.S. §25-903(8) provides a list of the situations where a divorce may be obtained. In general, this includes:
- Felonies with imprisonment
- Abandonment of the house for at least one year
- Physical or sexual abuse or domestic violence
- Physical separation for at least 2 years
- Physical separation for at least 1 year after a Decree of Legal Separation was entered
- Habitual drug or alcohol abuse
- Both spouses agree to a divorce
Unfortunately, the court website does not provide forms for dissolution (divorce) of a covenant marriage. So, as part of our mediation services, I have created documents for such divorces. The process is the same as mediation for a standard divorce or legal separation. We still discuss the division of assets and debts, spousal maintenance, and if minor children are involved, the parenting plan and child support. We just need to make sure the divorce decree and associated documents meet the Arizona legal requirements for this type of divorce. Most often, the couple prefers to just list “mutual agreement” as the grounds for their divorce so as to keep their personal situation private, which is fine.
So, don’t worry if you have a covenant marriage (or don’t know if you do), we can certainly assist and prepare the appropriate documents to help you move forward.