Arizona courts work to safeguard children from danger when ruling on child custody. The Arizona Coalition To End Sexual and Domestic Violence notes that children who witness domestic violence are twice as likely to experience or initiate intimate partner violence themselves. Legal measures are in place to disrupt this dangerous pattern.
A parent with a domestic violence charge may find restrictions on custodial or visitation rights during divorce proceedings, but the judgment depends on how the court views the situation.
How do Arizona courts determine domestic violence?
In Arizona, domestic violence could refer to sexual abuse, emotional distress, economic abuse and psychological intimidation. A threat made with the intent to control another person can constitute domestic violence. The court can review medical files, police reports, school records and documentation from shelters to determine evidence of domestic violence.
How does a domestic violence charge affect custody decisions?
The parent charged with abuse bears the burden to prove that a child faces no danger under their care. A significant act of domestic violence precludes a judge from awarding joint custody, so the other parent receives sole custody. Even if the charge does not directly involve the child, the court can deny custodianship and restrict visitation rights to a protected setting for the child’s protection.
If the act of domestic violence is not significant, a judge has leeway in extending joint custody or less restrictive visitation rights. The court considers factors such as if the charged parent is no longer subject to a protective order, has completed appropriate counseling or can demonstrate that custody is in the child’s best interests.
A domestic violence charge presents various challenges to gaining custody or parenting time. However, a reformed person who demonstrates the benefits of custody may find a way to maintain parental rights.