How To Get Divorced If You Have A Covenant Marriage

When you married your spouse years ago, did you go for the covenant marriage option? The covenant marriage option became available in 2001 in Arkansas as a way of discouraging people from divorce. If you chose this option and now want a divorce, you can get one. However, it may be slightly harder to do. Getting divorced from a covenant marriage may also take longer from start to finish.

What Is a Covenant Marriage?

Arkansas is one of three states in the US that have covenant marriages. A covenant marriage is a union between a man and woman that states both partners believe marriage is a lifelong relationship. In other words, signing up for a covenant marriage meant that you fully understood the relationship should last a lifetime.

While this has never been an extremely common choice for couples, many couples still chose this option, and a lot of these couples have gone through divorces.

What Are the Rules for Getting Divorced with a Covenant Marriage?

Arkansas is a state where couples need grounds for divorce, and there are a lot of different types of grounds couples can use, including:
  • Impotency
  • Drunkenness
  • Adultery
  • Conviction of a crime
  • Long-term separation of at least 18 months
  • Insanity
If you had not selected a covenant marriage, you could get divorced for any of these reasons. With a covenant marriage, the grounds are slightly different. One key difference is with the 18-month separation rule. With a covenant marriage, you must have lived apart for 24 months. If you have a minor child, the waiting period is 30 months.

Couples with covenant marriages must also seek help through counseling if they want a divorce. This is not a requirement for non-covenant marriages.

What Should You Do if You Want a Divorce?

Signing up for a covenant marriage may have sounded like a good idea at the time, but things change. If you now want a divorce, the best option you have is consulting with an experienced divorce lawyer. Your lawyer will begin the process by discussing the grounds you have for divorce. If you have grounds you can easily prove, you should give the lawyer the proof needed. This could speed up the divorce proceedings.

If you do not have a valid reason for wanting the divorce, you will likely have to wait for the two-year period to expire. However, the period begins when you separate, not when you file for divorce. In other words, if you separated from your spouse two years ago and have not lived with him or her since, this time apart serves as your two-year separation requirement.

If you have a valid reason for wanting the divorce, there is also a chance your lawyer could speed up the process. Courts recognize that certain events void the time-frame requirements with covenant marriages. One example of this is physical abuse. If your spouse abused you physically, you might not have to wait the full length of time.

The next step is filing the paperwork with the court. To initiate a divorce proceeding, you must file a petition for the divorce. This petition will state why you are requesting the divorce, and the court will notify your spouse after you file. This will initiate the proceedings, and your divorce lawyer will help you file your petition and walk you through the remaining steps of the process.

If you want a divorce and are not sure what to do about it, contact The Law Office of Michael Lilly. We specialize in divorce cases and can help you find the answers and solutions you need. Call us today to schedule a consultation.