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Making Marriage Mean Something in Arizona

Making Marriage Mean Something in Arizona
Pat Dickson - Thu Mar 22, 2012 @ 08:23AM
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The other day I was working out with a friend, and he said something to me I found peculiar. He said, "Getting married these days is no different than having a serious girlfriend."

I said, "That's because all you have to do is file with the court and say there are irreconcilable differences."

"Isn't that the way it's always been?"

"No, you used to have to sue for a divorce and prove your spouse, or you, did something to break your vows. Remember how detectives in the old black and white films used to be hired to prove a spouse was cheating? And then Las Vegas came along. Nevada eased up divorce laws so if you lived there a few months you could just file a divorce and get one without proving your marriage vows were broken. Then all the casinos sprung up to cater to people hanging out in Las Vegas, waiting for enough time to pass so they could take advantage of Nevada's easy divorce laws and end their marriages. Shortly thereafter, other states, including Arizona, followed in Nevada's steps."

"Why even get married?" replied my friend. "Too bad there isn't anything a person can do to have a marriage that has a real commitment behind it any more."

Then my legal wheels started turning. It has been a long time since I handled a divorce case or any family law matter, but the first thing that came to my mind was the prenuptial agreement, but I will spare you those details, only saying it is a binding contract that can define things like property division in the result of a divorce, but more importantly, I remembered that right as I was switching from general practice to business practice back in the late 1990s, Arizona had been considering bringing back some of the old fashioned marriage vows via statute. I looked it up and this is what I found:

In Arizona, you can have an old fashioned marriage again. One that really matters because you have to do more than cite "irreconcilable differences." It is called Covenant Marriage, and rather than bore you with the details, I'll give you a link to a reliable publication produced by the Arizona Supreme Court. Rely on this document, not what I say, because as I've disclosed I haven't practiced family law for over a decade.


In a nutshell, a Covenant Marriage is a marriage that makes you do more than just cite "irreconcilable differences" to get a divorce. Instead, you have to prove 1 of 8 things:

1. Adultery
2. Felony Imprisonment
3. Abandonment
4. Domestic Violence
5. Separation for 2+ Years
6. Legal Separation
7. Drug or Alcohol Abuse
8. Consent to Divorce by Both Parties

If you are interested in a Covenant Marriage, talk to your local clergy person and see if they can help. If that fails, talk to a lawyer. Unfortunately, the lawyer will make you pay a lot more than the clergy!

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