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DeShon Laraye Pullen PLC Board certified Family Law Specialist*

Arizona covenant marriages may be better for a lasting marriage

Saying "I do" when Arizona couples marry should be a solemn pledge that two people are bound together for life. Unfortunately, we all know how easily "I do" can turn into "I did but don't anymore." Divorce is no longer a rare occurrence between married couples but has become the norm in today's society.

Arizona has two types of marriages in the statutes: the common marriage used by most people and the covenant marriage. A covenant marriage is meant to be a more serious commitment than a normal marriage.

What makes a covenant marriage different? First, it's not as easy to get a divorce from a covenant marriage. There are only certain circumstances in which a court can grant a divorce. The reasons include some of the more serious problems that occur in a marriage as well as a few others, such as adultery, abuse, abandonment or the use of illegal drugs or alcohol by one of the spouses.

There are also more stringent requirements for obtaining a covenant marriage. The marriage license application must contain the "Covenant Marriage" statement, which is a pledge of commitment and a promise to to make every effort to preserve a marriage in the case of differences. In addition, premarital counseling, which focuses on covenant marriage, is required with sworn statements of attendance from both parties, as well as the provider.

The covenant marriage was instituted in Arizona in 1998. However, many people are not aware it even exists. But serious couples, who truly plan on a lifelong commitment, should consider this when tying the know. A family law attorney will be familiar with the legal issues that surround this type of marriage or what is involved in divorce procedures when these commitments are broken.

A separation in this type of marriage, while more difficult to obtain, does not change the legal ramifications surrounding division of property, support and visitation rules for children, or other issues involved.

Source: Arizona Supreme Court, "Covenant Marriage In Arizona" Oct. 29, 2014

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