Unraveling the Mystery of a Covenant Marriage

You and your fiancé are ready to make the ultimate commitment, so you take the trip together down to the County Clerk of the Court to apply for a marriage license. But when you arrive the Clerk asks, “Are you applying for a regular (non-covenant) marriage or a covenant marriage today?” You and your fiancé look at one another with bewilderment, having never heard the term “covenant marriage” before. One of you nervously responds to the Clerk, “What is the difference between them?” and the Clerk replies, “A covenant marriage has a few additional requirements, but very few couples, less than one percent in fact, apply for a covenant marriage.” You and your partner, not prepared to join the one percent or jump through the additional hoops, decide to follow the crowd and reply, “No, thank you. I think we’ll stick to a regular marriage.” But what are the consequences of that decision? Unbeknownst to most Arizonans, there are two types of marriage licenses available to engaged couples: a non-covenant marriage license and a covenant marriage license. In the much more common non-covenant marriage, if one spouse is unhappy in the marriage, that spouse may apply for a divorce (called a “dissolution of marriage” in Arizona) and merely cite “Irreconcilable Differences” as the reason. The court need not find fault by one of the parties (e.g., adultery) to grant...

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