What Are The Effects Of Domestic Violence Charges On Child Custody In Arizona?
How Domestic Violence Charges Affect Child Custody In Arizona
Charges or accusations of domestic violence are serious and can significantly affect the alleged abuser, even if they are innocent. If the charges turn into a conviction or restraining order, negative consequences can include damage to reputation and relationships, loss of professional licensure and employment, difficulty finding employment and housing, and changes to child custody orders. If you are facing domestic violence charges in Arizona, contact an Arizona domestic violence lawyer immediately for guidance and representation.
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Domestic Violence In Arizona
Arizona recognizes a variety of conduct as domestic violence. The key distinction between assault and domestic violence is that the alleged offenses are against a family member such as a spouse or child, a household member such as a stepchild, or a person with whom they are or were in a romantic or sexual relationship.
Domestic violence can include:
- Physical or sexual assault against a household member
- An attempt to physically or sexually assault a household member
- Causing physical injury such as hitting, biting, kicking, punching, and similar actions
- Threats, harassment, intimidation
- Watching, recording, or photographing a victim without consent
- Trespassing and property damage
- Unlawful imprisonment or kidnapping
Victims of domestic violence should contact an Arizona family law lawyer for legal guidance and to ask the court for a domestic abuse protection order.
How Can Domestic Violence Charges Affect Child Custody Orders?
Arizona recognizes two types of child custody: physical and legal. Legal custody includes a parent’s right to make decisions for their child regarding health, medical procedures, and education. Physical custody involves where the child lives and provision of basic daily care, such as feeding, sleeping, and bathing.
In Arizona, judges will consider at least eleven factors as they determine the best interest of the child and make custody arrangements. Two of these considerations include domestic violence:
- Whether there has been domestic violence or child abuse by one or both of the parents and
Whether a parent has been convicted of falsely reporting child abuse or neglect
Naturally, Arizona courts view evidence of domestic violence as not being in the best interests of the child. If one parent has a history of domestic violence, that parent cannot share joint legal custody with the other parent.
In child custody decisions, judges will consider the child’s safety and any domestic violence victims as the top priority in the case. They will need to consider an alleged perpetrator’s history and behavior toward others and determine whether it’s more likely than not that domestic violence took place.
In making these decisions, courts will examine a variety of evidence, including:
- Other court rulings
- Police reports
- Medical reports
- Child protective services reports
- Domestic violence shelter records
- School records
- Witness testimony
Your Arizona child custody lawyer can help you understand what will happen in court and work to find evidence to protect your child if necessary.
What About Visitation Rights?
Ultimately, the parent who is charged with domestic violence bears the burden of proof that the child will be safe from danger under their care. Significant acts of domestic violence will prevent a judge from awarding joint custody, which means that the other parent will receive sole custody. However, even if the domestic violence charge does not directly involve the child, custodianship and visitation rights can be denied or limited to supervised settings in order to protect the child.
Limited visitation may include:
- No overnight visits
- Visits supervised by a family member or social worker
- Payment of bond to promote the child’s safe return
- Require drug and alcohol tests prior to visitation
When acts of domestic violence are considered not significant by the court, the judge can use their own discretion in extending joint custody or broader visitation rights. Factors that will be considered by the court include:
- Whether the parent is no longer subject to a domestic violence protection order
- Whether the parent has completed ordered counseling, which may include batterer’s prevention or alcohol or drug abuse education, depending on the circumstances
- Whether the parent can demonstrate that their custody is in the child’s best interests
Charges of domestic violence can present challenges to gaining custody of your child or receiving parenting time, so it’s crucial to talk with your Arizona family law attorney who can review the details and circumstances of your case and provide more specific information about what to expect. In many situations, a reformed parent who can demonstrate the benefits of providing custody to their child may be able to maintain parental rights.
Termination Of Parental Rights
In severe cases where there is a conviction of domestic violence or a pattern and history of child abuse, a petition can be filed asking the court to terminate the parent’s rights. This means that the parent loses all rights to physical and legal custody of their child.
Contact An Experienced Child Custody Lawyer In Arizona
If you have questions regarding domestic violence charges and how they may affect your child custody arrangements, contact the experienced family law lawyers at My AZ Lawyers. We are also able to represent individuals who have been charged with domestic violence. Contact us today to learn more about how we can represent and guide you through these complicated legal situations!
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