The only grounds for divorce in Arizona for most marriages is that the marriage is irretrievably broken, and there is no reasonable prospect of reconciliation. This essentially means that if one spouse wants a divorce, that spouse will get a divorce. Spouses wishing to save their marriage have disputed that their marriage is irretrievably broken and that there is no reasonable prospect of reconciliation, but, if either spouse testifies that the grounds for an Arizona divorce exist, there is no judge who will not make the requisite finding. The judge is not going to force someone to stay married who does not want to stay married. It is always sufficient for one spouse to testify that the marriage is irretrievably broken and that there is no reasonable prospect of reconciliation.
None of the classic grounds for divorce, like adultery, cruelty, abandonment, and domestic violence, are grounds for divorce in Arizona. Of course, any of the classic grounds for divorce may cause the marriage to be irretrievably broken with no reasonable prospect of reconciliation. Because Arizona is a no-fault divorce state, the court will make no findings regarding fault. The court will divide property and debt, make support orders, and make orders regarding any children without regard to marital misconduct. Of course, issues like domestic violence or substance abuse may be relevant regarding the children’s best interest.
However, some people get a unique marriage license which says that the married couple has a covenant marriage. This makes it a little more difficult to get a divorce in Arizona. A covenant marriage requires a notarized statement that the couple has been counseled by clergy or a marriage counselor, including counseling regarding the limited options for divorce. The grounds for the divorce of a covenant marriage are adultery; a felony conviction with a sentence of death or imprisonment; abandonment for one year (or expected to last one year) with a refusal to return; physical or sexual abuse of a spouse, child, or relative living in the home, or domestic violence as defined in the criminal portions of the Arizona Revised Statutes (it is a more broad definition than physical or sexual abuse); physical separation of two years (or expected to last two years); one year of separation following a decree of legal separation; habitual abuse of drugs or alcohol; or that both spouses agree to divorce.
Arizona is only one of three states that have covenant marriage. The other two are Louisiana and Arkansas.
If you have questions regarding divorce or any area of family law, please contact Thomas Morton for a consultation.