In this article, domestic violence will be defined and its implications for child custody in Arizona will be discussed. After reading this article, if you still have any questions, seek guidance from a family law attorney.
Overview of Domestic Violence
Unless they have the scars and marks to prove it, victims of domestic violence frequently don’t think they are actually victims. They might not use the services offered to assist them. However, according to Arizonan law, a number of actions qualify as domestic violence, including:
Making family or household members fearful they will suffer immediate physical harm; sexually assaulting or seriously injuring a family or household member; attempting to sexually assault or seriously injure a family or household member; and engaging in a pattern of abusive behaviors severe enough to allow a court to issue a protective order for the victimized parent or child.
Physical assault, threats, harassment, intimidation, stalking, wrongful detention, trespassing, property damage, kidnapping, and secretly photographing and watching victims without their consent are just a few examples of behaviors that fall under the definition of domestic violence. Abuse can be verbal, written, telephonic, electronic (such as online), or personal.
The law focuses on protecting members of the family and household. They consist of:
Former and current spouses
People who currently are or previously were in a romantic or sexual relationship, people who currently are or previously were living together, people who have a child together, people who are related by blood or marriage, people who have children together, people who have children together, and people who have a child together.
What constitutes a romantic or sexual relationship is frequently questioned. Judges consider four factors in order to make their decision:
How the relationship is structured
the duration of the relationship, the frequency of the partners’ interactions, and the amount of time that has passed since the end of the relationship.
You can go to court and request a domestic abuse protection order if you’re a victim of domestic abuse. See this information from the Arizona Judicial Branch, which includes the forms you must complete, to find out how.
Several services are offered by Community Resources Arizona to domestic violence victims. The non-profit A New Leaf offers a thorough directory of businesses that provide direct services like shelter-based housing, counseling, and case management. Additional information and resources for victims are listed by the Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence, a non-profit organization.
The Arizona Department of Health Services has written a fact sheet with hotline numbers for those who have experienced abuse, and the Arizona Department of Economic Security has a Domestic Violence Program that can help victims.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline can be reached by victims by dialing 1-800-799-7233. It is accessible every day of the week, round-the-clock.
Domestic Violence and Child Care
Legal and physical custody are the two types. The location where a child resides and receives essential daily care, such as feeding and bathing, is known as physical custody. Legal concerns a parent’s authority to decide critically important matters for a child, such as their health and education.
To decide who should have custody of a child and what is in the child’s best interests, judges must weigh at least eleven different factors. Child Custody in Arizona: The Best Interests of the Child provides more details on the general criteria that courts use to decide these cases. Domestic violence is directly involved in two of the factors:
if there has ever been domestic violence or child abuse, and if either parent has ever been found guilty of reporting child abuse or neglect without having done so.
Evidence of domestic violence is considered to be against the child’s best interests by Arizona’s courts. As a result, it is less likely that a parent who has used domestic violence will be granted custody. In fact, parents cannot share joint legal custody if domestic violence has occurred.
Judges are required to give the victim’s and the child’s safety top priority in the case and to take the offender’s prior history of making threats against or harming other people into account. They must first determine whether it is more likely than not that abuse ever took place. In doing so, courts look at:
Decisions made by other courts
Reports from the police, the medical community, child protective services, domestic violence shelters, schools, and witness testimony.
A “rebuttable presumption” (a legal presumption) that awarding custody to the abuser is not in the child’s best interests must be applied by the court if it determines after reviewing the evidence that one parent used domestic violence against the other parent. The judge must consider all of the following elements before concluding that the offender has disproved that presumption:
whether or not the offender demonstrated that obtaining sole or shared custody is in the child’s best interests
whether the offender successfully completed court-ordered alcohol or drug abuse counseling, or, in situations where drugs are a problem, whether the perpetrator completed a batterer’s prevention program.
Whether the offender is no longer under a domestic violence protective order, whether the offender has committed additional acts of domestic violence against anyone else, and whether the offender successfully completed parenting classes that the court ordered in cases where the offender is on parole, probation, or community supervision.
Protecting the victimized parent or child from potential harm is the court’s top priority if the judge finds that domestic violence occurred. Until the abusive parent persuades the judge that parenting time won’t put the child in danger or stunt their emotional growth, they cannot be granted “parenting time” (Arizona’s term for visitation). Even if the court grants the request, it must still ensure the safety of the child and the other parent and may:
order that parenting time exchanges take place in a secure area (for instance, the lobby of a police station).
give a state agency the authority to supervise parenting time, with the provision that another family member or household member may supervise parenting time in certain circumstances.
order the abusive parent to refrain from using drugs or drinking alcohol either during parenting time or for the 24 hours prior to it. Establish any other requirements required to ensure everyone’s safety, such as requiring the abusive parent to pay a bond to ensure the child’s safe return, maintaining the privacy of the child’s and the other parent’s addresses, making the abusive parent pay any expenses related to parenting time, and so on.
Parental Rights Are Terminated
A relative, foster parent, doctor, licensed welfare agency, or the Arizona Department of Economic Security may file a petition asking the court to remove a parent’s parental rights in extremely serious situations where there is a pattern and history of child abuse. When parental rights are terminated, a parent loses all claim to the child’s physical and legal custody.
Speak With Our Guardianship Lawyers in Arizona
Contact Canterbury Law Group today if you need an experienced child custody lawyer or guardianship lawyer in Phoenix or Scottsdale, Arizona to help with your case. Our experienced family law attorneys will work with you to achieve the best outcome for your situation. Call today for an initial consultation! 480-744-7711