In order to obtain a divorce in a covenant marriage in a state that legally acknowledges covenant marriage agreements, a spouse must file for a fault divorce based on a restricted number of grounds. Currently, only three (3) states legally acknowledge covenant marriages, including Louisiana, Arkansas, and Arizona. In each of these states, covenant marriage statutes govern the process of obtaining a covenant marriage (which includes mandatory pre-marital counseling) and more importantly, governs the grounds for divorce in these marriages (which also requires counseling, but more importantly, restricts the grounds that a divorce can be filed). In short, filing for divorce in states that honor covenant marriage agreements cannot be done under a no-fault basis, but rather, requires one spouse to prove fault.
Grounds for Divorce in a Covenant Marriage
Grounds for divorce in covenant marriage are legally restricted to certain elements, and in turn, without proving these elements in a legally viable manner, a spouse cannot divorce his or her marital partner without doing so. The following grounds are commonly accepted as means of garnering a fault-based divorce in a covenant marriage, including:
- Incarceration for a felony criminal conviction
- Domestic violence, often requiring proof of physical violence
- Prolonged abandonment
Though it is possible to garner a divorce from a covenant marriage on other grounds in states that do not recognize covenant marriage agreements, persons in a covenant marriage attempting to divorce their spouse in a state that respects covenant marriage agreements (Arizona, Arkansas, and Louisiana) must prove one of the aforementioned elements to gain a fault based divorce.
Getting Legal Help with Covenant Marriage Divorces
Relatively speaking, covenant marriages are a unique form of marriage only respected from a legal perspective in three (3) states, with the percentage of covenant marriages in each of these states constituting less than one (1) to three (3) percent of all marriages in these states. In essence, the restricted grounds for filing divorce in covenant marriages places the burden of proof on the spouse wishing to obtain a divorce, and furthermore, the burden of proof is restricted to only one of few causes of action. Having legal counsel address these claims and represent one’s interests in these cases is important, especially if one spouse wishes to contest the divorce. Consult with a lawyer to learn more about your legal rights for divorce if currently in a covenant marriage, and in turn, learn whether you have viable grounds to get out your current covenant marriage agreement.