Dissolution of a Covenant Marriage: All of the drama of California without the up-side

Arizona is generally a no-fault state with regards to divorce. This means that either spouse can petition for divorce and it will be granted. Of course, there are still issues of spousal maintenance and division of assets and debts that will need to be resolved. In Arizona, marital misconduct has no bearing on an award of spousal maintenance or the distribution of assets, but an experienced attorney on your side will help in resolving these issues.

This differs from several states where, in order to petition for divorce, you must (or may) allege marital misconduct-adultery, cruelty, abuse, abandonment, substance abuse-and proving that misconduct could earn you a more favorable spousal maintenance award or a more favorable distribution of property. California, Texas, and Connecticut are just a few examples of such states.

However, Arizona has decided to protect the religious values of marriage and affords couples an opportunity to enter into what's called a covenant marriage. Unlike a normal marriage license, a covenant marriage requires that the couple sign an affidavit that they intend to enter into a covenant marriage, seek pre-marital counseling from a clergy member or a marriage counselor, and receive counseling that instructs them that, prior to any attempt at divorce, that they must demonstrate that they have attempted marriage counseling. They must also understand that their marriage cannot be dissolved except by mutual agreement or if the petitioning spouse can prove marital misconduct.

If you have entered into a covenant marriage and are seeking a divorce that the other spouse does not agree to, you have to prove to the Court that the other spouse has committed marital misconduct which could be adultery, substance abuse, abandoning you for two years, or any of the other grounds for dissolution of a covenant marriage. This may require collecting evidence, deposing witnesses, and ultimately presenting evidence and testimony to a judge about the circumstances that have ruined your marriage. All of this can be complicated and extremely stressful.

While-as a petitioning spouse trying to dissolve a covenant marriage-you have to undergo the burden and stress of proving your spouse's marital misconduct, the only thing that you gain is getting out of that relationship. The Court will still award spousal maintenance and divide community property and debt equitably, without any consideration of marital misconduct, unlike the states mentioned above.

Even though your spouse's marital misconduct will not get you more spousal maintenance or get you more of the marital assets, if you need to leave a covenant marriage, you will need an experienced attorney to help you prove your case so that you can move on. Call our office and we can help you prove your case.