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Domestic Violence and Parenting

Domestic violence is nothing new. But our knowledge of how severely it affects children has grown dramatically. This has resulted in an explosion of statutes and rules designed to protect children at the center of parenting disputes from suffering further violence. Generally, the court may restrict both the parenting time of the perpetrator and his or her ability to participate in parenting decisions. 

Domestic violence is a serious problem that affects every member of the family. There is no such thing as the “unaffected bystander” in a domestically violent family.

Domestic violence is not limited to physical acts of violence, although it includes those. It includes intimidation, verbal abuse, sexual abuse, financial abuse. The Courts are increasingly realizing that a pattern of coercive controlling behavior is domestic violence.

It is the legal right and responsibility to make all non-emergency decisions regarding a child’s education, health care, religious training or personal care.

Very possibly. Generally, the court will presume that both parents should make decisions jointly for children. However, if there is domestic violence, the court must presume the opposite. The court must presume that a parent who has engaged in significant domestic violence should not be making decisions about them. The court must also consider evidence of domestic violence as being contrary to the children’s best interests. See A.R.S. §25-403.03 here.

If there is domestic violence, but it is not significant, then the judge can grant either sole or joint legal decision making to the perpetrator, but only if that person and present compelling evidence that it is in the child’s best interests.

Additionally, check out our article on Parenting Time and Legal Decision-Making.

A judge may limit the parenting time of a parent who has engaged in significant domestic violence. A judge could also order additional protective measures detailed below. A judge will usually enter additional orders to make sure that there is compliance with the protective orders. The court’s over-arching obligation in establishing legal decision making and parenting time orders is ensuring that those orders are in the children’s best interests regardless of parental desires.

Given the serious and complex nature of domestic violence in families, the legal process and therapeutic processes are almost always intertwined, and there is no one size fits all solution to these situations. To complicate the issue, often the person who has committed the acts of violence and/or abuse doesn’t recognize his or her behavior as being problematic or is not willing or able to change. That parent may have an expectation of equal legal and physical access and a lack of insight into why that is not safe and appropriate. But  therapeutic orders that judges commonly order include  drug and alcohol testing, anger management classes, counseling, or a domestic violence education program.

Generally, a judge will issue orders to assure compliance, such as supervision, court-ordered classes in which the agency reports back to the court, drug and alcohol test results are reported directly to the court. or the scheduling of review hearings to make sure everything is on track.

Yes, the court remains open for business. It can issue Orders of Protection or emergency parenting time orders without an in person appearance. It can also enter other court orders after a hearing, in which you can generally appear by phone.

One local resource to learn about the assorted forms of domestic violence, how they impact the family, and how to most safely exit the situation is Emerge! Center Against Domestic Abuse

You can also obtain an Order of Protection by filling out forms available on line and having a telephone hearing with the judge. The court has drastically simplified these procedures. For additional information, review our article on Orders of Protection.

This post is intended to highlight just certain portions of the Arizona Rules of Family Law Procedure. It is not intended to substitute for professional legal advice on your specific case. McCarthy Family Law is a family law firm; however please check with your personal family law attorney for advice specific to your case. Or you can contact our office to speak to one of our family law attorneys to discuss how these rules may impact your specific case.

If you need help with filing for an Order of Protection, establishing or modifying a parenting plan, or if you have general questions, we are here to assist you. 

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McCarthy Family Law is a full service family law firm that services all family law issues. If you are going through a divorce or have questions about filing for divorce, we are here to assist you. Please call us at 520-623-0341 to explore your options. Turning Stress Into Solutions®.