What to know about choosing a covenant marriage: Part I

Did you know that prior to the 1960s, you needed to prove that your spouse had committed a grievous act that harmed the marriage before the courts would grant you a divorce? This was the case not only here in Arizona but in other states across the nation as well. But by 1985 that had changed in 49 states, including Arizona, because they had allowed for no-fault divorces.

But the idea of permitting a divorce without proving wrongdoing hasn’t sat well with some current politicians and has led at least three states to issue what are called covenant marriage licenses. Arizona is one of them. But what is a covenant marriage and what should our readers know about them?

In 1998, the Arizona legislature passed a statute that allowed couples an additional option when it came to traditional marriage. Couples who choose to enter into a covenant marriage must not only take premarital counseling before getting married but also must sign a declaration, which states that they are entering into a covenant marriage. Between 2000 and 2010, less than 3,900 covenant marriages were performed in Arizona.

But what really makes a covenant marriage different from a traditional marriage is the fact that couples may have a difficult time filing for divorce because of the limited list of reasons that can be cited when it comes to the dissolution of marriage. Although some conservative lawmakers feel that covenant marriages strengthen the sanctity of marriage by making a divorce more difficult to obtain, there are others who feel that it may present a roadblock that will only “add a new frustration to already frustrated lives.”

That’s why, in next week’s blog post, we will cover what couples can cite as a reason in a covenant marriage divorce and the problems that could arise when these reasons do not apply to the divorcing couple.

Sources: The Washington Post, “Conservatives aren’t just fighting same-sex marriage. They’re also trying to stop divorce,” Scott Keyes, April 11, 2014

The Arizona Supreme Court, “Covenant Marriage in Arizona,” Copyright 2006, Accessed April 16, 2014

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