Divorce & Annulment Article


Covenant Marriage in Arizona

Covenant Marriage In Arizona

Presented by the Arizona Supreme Court, Administrative Office of the Courts, Court Services Division, Family Law Unit in accordance with A.R.S. § 25-906.

As of August 21, 1998, Arizona incorporated into statute a new type of marriage called "covenant marriage." (The law can be found in Sections 25-901 through 25-906 of the Arizona Revised Statutes.) This pamphlet describes what steps must be taken to enter into a covenant marriage. It also lists the limited reasons available for a legal separation or divorce for those in a covenant marriage. The pamphlet contains only general information. If you have questions about covenant marriage, please ask a member of the clergy, a marriage counselor or an attorney of your choice.

What is a Covenant Marriage?

The State Legislature has created a type of marriage in Arizona called "covenant marriage." It does not replace the kind of marriage already available. Instead it offers an additional option to couples who wish to marry. 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.

To enter into a covenant marriage, the couple first must have counseling (called "premarital counseling") from a member of the clergy or a marriage counselor. Then, when applying for a license to be married, both persons must show their intention to enter into a covenant marriage by signing a special statement (or "declaration") on the application form. In a covenant marriage, legal separation or divorce (in Arizona, a "dissolution of marriage") may be granted by the court only for specific reasons listed in state law. (See menu at top of page.)

Entering into a Covenant Marriage

To be married in Arizona, a woman and man legally qualified to marry must first get a marriage license. (Sections 25-101 and 25-102 of the Arizona Revised Statutes indicate who may legally marry.) To get a license, a written application must be filed with the Clerk of the Superior Court in any county of the state or with some justices of the peace, city clerks or town clerks. Call the Clerk of the Superior Court in your county for information on where to apply for a marriage license.

For a covenant marriage, certain information must be included in the marriage license application. By law (Section 25-901 of the Arizona Revised Statutes) a person must state their intention to enter into a covenant marriage. This statement (or "declaration:) must contain three things:

  • A written statement, printed exactly as follows: A Covenant Marriage 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.
  • The signed and sworn statement of both people that they have received premarital counseling from a member of the clergy or from a marriage counselor. In premarital counseling, both people must be advised that a covenant marriage is a commitment for life. Premarital counseling also must include a discussion of the seriousness of covenant marriage, the requirement to seek marriage counseling if marital difficulties develop and the limited legal reasons available for ending the marriage by legal separation or divorce. The couple also must receive a copy of this pamphlet.
  • The signatures of both parties witnessed by a court clerk. The parties must submit 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 parties 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 counselor's statement also must show that a copy of this informational pamphlet was given to each person.

Covenant Marriage for Already Married Persons

People who are already married may change (or "convert") their marriage to a covenant marriage. In this situation, it is not necessary to have premarital counseling or to apply for a marriage license and go through a marriage ceremony. To convert a marriage, the married couple must:

  • Pay a fee (prescribed in Section 12-284(A) of the Arizona Revised Statutes) to the Clerk of the Superior Court and present two things:
  • Submit a written statement ("declaration") like the one printed for unmarried persons seeking a covenant marriage to the Clerk of the Superior Court;
  • A sworn statement listing the names and social security numbers of both spouses and the date and place their marriage ceremony was performed.

Some courts have preprinted forms for married couples to complete. The Clerk of the Superior Court will file the documents and issue a certificate stating that the earlier marriage is converted to a covenant marriage. However, the process of converting a marriage will not legalize a marriage that was not properly entered into or that is prohibited by Arizona law.

The statements for conversion to a covenant marriage may be submitted to the Clerk of the Superior Court in any county of the state and to some justices of the peace, city clerks or town clerks. Call the Clerk of the Superior Court in your county for more information.

Limited Legal Reasons to Get a Divorce or Legal Separation

For a covenant marriage, the court can only grant a divorce ("dissolution of marriage" in Arizona) or a legal separation for certain, limited reasons. To get a divorce, any one of the following eight reasons must be proved to the court (these are listed in Section 25-903 of the Arizona Revised Statutes):

  • The spouse against whom the divorce case is filed (the "Respondent") has committed adultery.
  • The spouse against whom the the divorce case is filed (the "Respondent") has committed a serious crime ("felony") and has been sentenced to death or imprisonment.
  • For at least one year before the divorce case is filed, the spouse against whom the divorce case is filed (the "Respondent") has been absent from ("abandoned") the home where the married couple resided and refuses to return. The law allows an exception. A person may file for divorce by claiming that the other spouse has left the home and is expected to stay away for the one-year period. If the spouse has not been away for one year when the court papers are filed, the divorce case will not be dismissed by the court. Instead the case will be put on hold until the one-year requirement is met. During this time, the court still may grant and enforce temporary orders for things like child support, parenting time (formerly known as "visitation") and spousal support (sometimes called "alimony" or "spousal maintenance").
  • The spouse against whom the divorce case is filed (the "Respondent") either has (1) physically or sexually abused the other spouse, a child or a relative of either spouse who lives permanently in the married couple's home, or (2) committed domestic violence (defined in Section 13-3601 of the Arizona Revised Statutes) or emotional abuse.
  • The spouses have been living separate and apart without getting back together for at least two straight years before the divorce case is filed. The law allows an exception. A person may file for divorce by claiming it is expected the spouses will be separated for the two-year period. If the spouses have not been separated for two years when the court papers are filed, the divorce case will not be dismissed. Instead the case will be put on hold until the two-year requirement is met.
  • During the two-year period, the court may still grant and enforce temporary orders for things like child support, parenting time (formerly known as "visitation") and spousal support (sometimes called "alimony" or "spousal maintenance").
  • The spouses already have been granted a legal separation by the court, and they have been living separate and apart without getting back together for at least one year from the date of the legal separation.
  • The spouse against whom the divorce case is filed (the "Respondent") has regularly abused drugs or alcohol.
  • The spouses both agree to a divorce.

The reasons for obtaining a legal separation differ somewhat, but also are limited. The court must have proof that any one of the following are true (these are listed in Section 25-904 of the Arizona Revised Statutes):

  • The spouse against whom the legal separation case is filed (the "Respondent") has committed adultery.
  • The spouse against whom the legal separation case is filed (the "Respondent") has committed a serious crime ("felony") and has been sentenced to death or imprisonment.
  • For at least one year before the separation case is filed, the spouse against whom the legal separation case is filed (the "Respondent") has been absent from ("abandoned") the home where the married couple resided and refuses to return. The law allows an exception. A person may file for a legal separation by claiming that the other spouse has left the home and is expected to stay away for the one-year period. If the spouse has not been away for one year when the court papers are filed, the legal separation case will not be dismissed by the court. Instead the case will be put on hold until the one-year requirement is met. During the one-year period, the court still may grant and enforce temporary orders for things like child support, parenting time (formerly known as "visitation") and spousal support (sometimes called "alimony" or "spousal maintenance").
  • The spouse against whom the legal separation case is filed (the "Respondent") either has (1) physically or sexually abused the other spouse, a child or a relative of either spouse who lives permanently in the married couple's home, or (2) committed domestic violence (defined in Section 13-3601 of the Arizona Revised Statutes) or emotional abuse.
  • The spouses have been living separate and apart without getting back together for at least two straight years before the request for a legal separation is made to the court. The law allows an exception. A person may file for a legal separation by claiming it is expected the spouses will be separated for the two-year period. If the spouses have not been separated for two years when the court papers are filed, the legal separation case will not be dismissed by the court. Instead the case will be put on hold until the two-year requirement is met. During the two-year period, the court still may grant and enforce temporary orders for things like child support, parenting time (formerly known as "visitation") and spousal support (sometimes called "alimony" or "spousal maintenance").
  • Regular abuse of alcohol or ill treatment of a spouse by the spouse against whom the legal separation case is filed (the "Respondent") makes living together intolerable.
  • The spouse against whom the legal separation case is filed (the "Respondent") has regularly abused drugs or alcohol.

Clerks of the Superior Court

Apache County
70 West 3rd South
St. Johns, AZ 85936
(928) 337-7550

Cochise County
County Courthouse
Bisbee, AZ 85603
(520) 432-9364

Coconino County
200 N. San Francisco
Flagstaff, AZ 86001
(928) 779-6535

Gila County
1400 E. Ash
Globe, AZ 85501
(928) 425-3231

Graham County
800 Main St.
Safford, AZ 85546
(928) 428-3100

Greenlee County
County Courthouse
Clifton, AZ 85533
(928) 865-4242

La Paz County
1316 Kofa Ave., Suite 607
Parker, AZ 85344
(928) 669-6131

Maricopa County
201 W. Jefferson
Phoenix, AZ 85003
(602) 506-3676

Mohave County
County Courthouse
Kingman, AZ 86402-7000
(928) 753-0790

Navajo County
County Courthouse
Holbrook, AZ 86025
(928) 524-4188

Pima County
110 W. Congress
Tucson, AZ 85701
(520) 740-3201

Pinal County
County Courthouse
Florence, AZ 85232-2730
(520) 868-6296

Santa Cruz County
Santa Cruz County Complex
2150 North Congress Drive
Nogales, AZ 85621
(520) 375-7700

Yavapai County
County Courthouse
Prescott, AZ 86301
(928) 771-3312

Yuma County
168 S. 2nd Ave.
Yuma, AZ 85364
(928) 329-2164

© 2003 Arizona Supreme Court

Attached Document
.pdf Covenant Marriage in Arizona


Comments:

On 10/10/06
 said
what if ive been seperated for 15yrs and thought i was divorced and remarried

On 6/23/06
john said
i should do what i want

QUESTIONS

  • How do I serve my wife with divorce papers.
  • I have a spousal maintenance order that stops when I have attained federal eligibility age of retirement. What does this mean?
  • I was incarcerated in july of this year and was released just recently, during that time my wife and 2 children had moved to kansas I am most likely to file for divorce and will be seeking joint custody. I am planning on having the kids for their summer break and winter breaks.Since she is out of state what is the procedure for this to occur and what must I file,also will she have to come back to Arizona for the proceedings or can she remain in Kansas?
  • I am finalizing my divorce decree, and my previous lawyer added his fees to my decree with a date when payments needs to start. I am completely broke, lost my job and all my money. I won’t be able to pay his payments set up on the decree. Can file bankruptcy and get ridge of this debt?
  • my husband walked out on me a week after we found out i was pregnant. we had bought a car together and he let his dad put the title in his name without me knowing and a week after we found out i was pregnant he left? what can i do and can i get an annulment?
  • I had moved out of my house a year ago from my husband. I did not have the money to file for divorce until last week. As of the first of the year 2013 I have had a boyfriend and now my soon to be x is threatening me with adultery. Is this adultery if we have been separated for over a year?
  • Husband wants to buy me of home mortgage which is under my name only. I would love to keep the home but I don't want to start a fight so I am considering moving out with my 2 kids. I want to be the primary household for my kids which is why I want them to live with me most of the time. What should I consider when moving out? Will this affect me negatively in or out of court?
  • I'm trying to find legal help in regards to filing for divorce and custody. With very little funds.
  • Is there a waiting period after the Judge grants the divorce?
  • Can my exwife ask for any assets or property (ei. furniture, vehicle) after our divorce was final a year ago? She took guns, TVs, and jewelry before divorce was final and wanted nothing else.

STORIES

LegalLEARN

YOUR FEEDBACK IS NEEDED

FIND LEGAL HELP

  • Please select your county of residence below.

    County:
     

OTHER LEGAL RESOURCES

  • State Bar of Arizona
    www.azbar.org
  • Maricopa County Bar
    www.maricopabar.org
    Referral number 602-257-4434
  • Pima County Bar
    www.pimacountybar.org
    Referral number 520-623-4625
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline
    800-799-7233
  • Bankruptcy Court Self Help Center
    866-553-0893
  • Certified Legal Document Preparer Program
    Link

ORGANIZATIONS