Phoenix Covenant Marriage Divorce Attorney

Covenant marriage wedding bands on a Bible

Covenant marriage in Arizona represents a unique approach to marital commitment, offering an alternative to traditional marriage. This type of union is characterized by stricter criteria for both entering into and dissolving the relationship. While it is a less common choice, it brings distinct legal procedures, particularly in divorce scenarios.

What Is Covenant Marriage?

Covenant marriage requires couples to undergo pre-marital counseling from either a member of the clergy or a marriage counselor and agree to more limited grounds for divorce compared to standard marriages. This form of marriage emphasizes a stronger commitment and a willingness to work through marital challenges. It often appeals to those who view marriage through a religious or spiritual lens, emphasizing the sanctity and enduring nature of the union. By opting for a covenant marriage, couples acknowledge that their union is not only a legal bond but also a deeply personal and spiritual commitment. 

Grounds for Covenant Marriage Divorce

  • Adultery: Adultery is a ground for divorce in a covenant marriage, requiring proof of an extramarital sexual relationship in court.
  • Felony Conviction: Divorce is permissible if one spouse is convicted of a felony and sentenced to death or imprisonment, severely impacting the marriage.
  • Abandonment: A spouse leaving the other for at least one year without consent and without intention to return is grounds for divorce.
  • Physical or Sexual Abuse: Abuse, either physical or sexual, towards a spouse or child, justifies divorce in a covenant marriage.
  • Living Apart: Divorce can be sought if a couple has lived apart continuously for at least two years, indicating a significant marital breakdown.
  • Drug or Alcohol Abuse: Chronic substance abuse by a spouse that negatively impacts the marriage can be a basis for divorce.
  • Mutual Consent or Irretrievable Breakdown: A joint agreement by both spouses citing an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage allows for a divorce filing.

The Divorce Process for Covenant Marriages

The divorce process for covenant marriages in Arizona is distinct and more complex than standard divorces. First, it begins with thoroughly verifying valid grounds for divorce, as stipulated by the covenant marriage agreement. Unlike regular divorces, couples in a covenant marriage must prove specific reasons, such as adultery, abuse, or prolonged separation, to proceed with the divorce. 

Once grounds are established, the process typically involves filing a petition for dissolution of marriage with the court. This petition must clearly state the grounds for divorce under the covenant marriage laws. Following this, there is a mandatory waiting period, during which couples might seek reconciliation or proceed with divorce preparations. 

Issues such as property division, child custody, and spousal support are addressed during the divorce proceedings. These can be more complicated in covenant marriages due to the nature of the agreement and the couple’s shared assets and responsibilities. Mediation might be recommended or required to resolve disputes amicably.

Challenges Unique to Covenant Marriage Divorce

Divorcing within a covenant marriage presents unique challenges that differ from standard divorces. First, proving the specific grounds required for a covenant marriage divorce can be legally and emotionally taxing. Unlike no-fault divorces, covenant divorces often necessitate concrete evidence of misconduct like adultery or abuse, which adds complexity to the legal proceedings. Furthermore, due to the often religious context of covenant marriages, there can be additional societal and personal pressures faced during the divorce process. These factors can intensify emotional stress and complicate negotiations around sensitive issues like child custody and asset division. As experienced family law attorneys, at Cohen Family Law we’re adept at navigating these challenges, ensuring a compassionate and comprehensive approach to your unique situation.

Children and Custody in Covenant Marriage Divorce

In covenant marriage divorces, child custody decisions are especially poignant due to the often deeply-held values surrounding family unity. Arizona courts prioritize the best interests of the children, considering factors like the child’s relationship with each parent, their adjustment to home, school, and community, and the mental and physical health of all involved parties. In these cases, the court may scrutinize the reasons for divorce more closely, given the covenant marriage’s focus on familial stability. We understand the emotional weight of these decisions and provide guidance to navigate custody negotiations and arrangements.

Financial Implications and Property Division

Navigating the financial implications and property division in a covenant marriage divorce requires careful consideration and experience. Arizona operates under community property law, meaning all assets and debts acquired during the marriage are typically divided equally. However, the unique nature of covenant marriages can introduce complexities, particularly if one spouse contests the division based on the grounds for divorce. Factors like the duration of the marriage, each spouse’s financial circumstances, and contributions to the marital estate are important in determining a fair division. Our role is to ensure an equitable distribution of assets, addressing issues like real estate, retirement accounts, and debts. We provide detailed financial analysis and negotiation strategies to protect your interests and secure your financial future post-divorce.

Contact an Experienced Covenant Marriage Divorce Attorney

At Cohen Family Law, we bring a wealth of experience and empathetic understanding to the complexities of covenant marriage divorce. Our dedicated team is committed to guiding you with personalized, qualified legal advice. For support tailored to your unique situation, contact us and take the first step towards a new beginning.