publications - family law
Arizona's Laws Concerning Marriage
What does Arizona require for a valid marriage?
For a marriage to be valid in the State of Arizona it must meet 3 requirements:
- The issuance of a valid marriage license;
- A solemnization by a person authorized by law to solemnize marriages or by a person purporting to act in such capacity and believed in good faith by at least one of the parties to be so authorized; and
- The solemniation must occur before the expiration of the marriage license. A.R.S. § 25-111
Are common law marriages allowed in Arizona?
Arizona does not recognize common-law marriages created within the state. A.R.S. § 25-111. However, Arizona does recognize common-law marriages that are validly contracted in other jurisdictions. A.R.S. § 25-112. Validity may depend on compliance with the requirements of the place where the relationship was established. Further, while Arizona does not recognize common-law marriage, parties who have resided together may have remedies in contract law to receive reimbursement for property purchased together and similar claims.
What are "covenant marriages?"
In 1998 Arizona attempted to strengthen traditional marriage by providing for "covenant marriages." These marriages require a declaration of intent that the couple intends the marriage to be for life and an affidavit that they have received specific premarital counseling on covenant marriages. A.R.S. § 25-901. Parties may convert an existing marriage into a covenant marriage by submitting to the court the required declaration and affidavit; no premarital counseling is neccessary for conversion and no further solemnization need occur. A.R.S. § 25-902. While the process for seeking a divorce remains the same, see Divorce page, the grounds to dissolve a covenant marriage are stricter than for non-covenant marriages. See A.R.S. § 25-903 and the Covenant Marriage Divorce page.
What is a prenuptial agreement?
Arizona law defines a prenuptial agreement (also known as "antenuptial agreements") as "an agreement between prospective spouses that is made in contemplation of marriage and that is effective on marriage." A.R.S. § 25-201(1). Any such agreements must be in writing and must be signed by both parties and becomes effective upon the marriage of the parties. A.R.S. § 25-202. These agreements will not be enforced under certain circumstances, such as when one party is coerced into signing the agreement or if one of the parties was not given a fair and reasonable disclosure of the property or the financial obligations of the other party prior to signing . See A.R.S. § 25-202(C) for more details. Prenuptial agreements may be amended or revoked at any time by a written agreement signed by both parties. A.R.S. § 25-204.
Prenuptial agreements executed prior to September 21, 1991, are governed by case law. Prenuptial agreements executed on or after September 21, 1991, are governed by the Arizona Uniform Premarital Agreement Act, found at A.R.S. § 25-201 Definitions, § 202 Enforcement of premarital agreements; exception, § 203 Scope of agreement, § 204 Amendment or revocation of agreement, and § 205 Limitation of actions. The format for a prenuptial agreement can be found in various forms under the Family Law Resources page.