Attorney Katherine Kraus

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Infidelity grounds for dissolution of covenant marriage

On Behalf of | May 5, 2021 | Blog, Divorce

Infidelity often motivates a spouse to file for divorce. Although a cheating spouse presents a strong personal reason to end a marriage, it does not have a legal impact on the divorce decree unless the couple has entered a covenant marriage. Arizona is one of three U.S. states that have a legal framework for covenant marriage. This type of marriage represents a more restrictive marital contract compared to a standard legal marriage. A covenant marriage requires a reason to proceed with a divorce.

Divorce reasons accepted by family courts

According to Title 25. Marital and Domestic Relations Section 25-903, Arizona law prevents courts from dissolving covenant marriages unless the petitioner supplies a legally acceptable reason. Infidelity, called adultery in the statute, forms the first reason listed.

The prominence given to infidelity demonstrates the contractual strictness of covenant marriages. Unions at this level are supposed to be difficult to sever because the partners originally agreed that marriage would be a lifelong priority. People usually enter covenant marriages as an expression of their religious beliefs that view marriage as a sacred act that the spouses should not undo.

The law, however, does recognize that people should not have to accept any behavior. In addition to cheating, covenant marriages may end due to:

  • Felony conviction and imprisonment
  • Abandonment of the marital partner
  • Physical or sexual abuse
  • Drug or alcohol abuse
  • Both partners consenting to break the covenant

No-fault divorce

Arizona residents who married without a covenant need not offer specific reasons for getting a divorce. The law grants people the freedom to end their marriages without having to explain themselves.

Although you may have clear reasons for filing for divorce, the justification does not usually impact the splitting spouses’ rights to property, support or access to children. Courts can take into account criminal acts or addiction when deciding child custody. Otherwise family law guides the division of marital assets and debts and calculation of child support without regard for your personal feelings.

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