Domestic Violence and Child Custody in Arizona
Going through a divorce will have you experiencing many conflicting emotions and uncertainties. There’s one thing you’re 100 percent confident in and that’s the best interest of your children. It’s usually in the best interest of kids to have joint custody after a divorce. Regardless of your relationship with your ex, children need both of their parents.
What happens, however, if a child custody arrangement has been made and you discover new information in the aftermath? What happens if you understand that your former spouse is abusive? Seeking a modification of the child custody arrangement would be the wisest move in such instances.
Cam a Child Custody Arrangement Be Modified Due to Domestic Violence
The short answer to this question is yes.
To give you the longer answer, we will have to examine several variables.
Arizona court always looks for the best interest of a child when making a decision. If new evidence has been discovered and it establishes the fact that a certain arrangement isn’t in the best interest of the child, a modification can be sought.
A modification of the arrangement is possible whenever you have a reason to believe that a child’s physical, mental or emotional wellbeing is in danger.
To initiate the procedure, you will have to file an affidavit with the court and outline the reasons why you’re seeking a modification of the child custody arrangement. If you cannot establish domestic violence, there will typically be a one-year waiting period before a custody arrangement can be reconsidered in court.
There needs to be enough information in your filing for a hearing to be scheduled. Thus, collecting evidence of domestic violence and abuse will be of utmost importance to protect your children and to get the custody arrangement modified. Medical records and witness testimonies can definitely come in handy to build a solid case against your former spouse.
Find out how domestic violence affects child custody in Arizona.
Ho Can Domestic Violence Affect Child Custody?
Whenever evidence of domestic violence is strong enough, parents will no longer share joint legal custody.
The Arizona court examines multiple factors to determine what’s in the best interest of the child as far as parenting arrangements go. Several of these factors pertain to violence and abuse. Judges always make decisions aimed at maximizing the safety of the child and obviously, domestic violence runs contrary to the wellbeing of a minor.
Usually, in such instances, there will no longer be joint custody and the allegedly abusive parent will get solely visitation rights (legally known as parenting time in Arizona).
This arrangement will remain in effect until the parent under consideration can prove to the court that they’re no longer a threat to the children or their former spouse. Depending on the severity of the situation, the court can modify an existing custody arrangement and request the following:
- Having parenting time exchanges occur in a protected setting
- Allow for family member supervision of the parenting time
- Order a state agency to provide supervision during the parenting time
- Ban overnight visits completely
- Order a parent who is deemed abusive to refrain from consuming drugs and/or alcohol for the 24 hours immediately before parenting time and during it
If the alleged domestic abuse is very serious, the court could make the rare decision to terminate parental rights altogether. This, however, is considered a last resort measure that’s saved for the gravest of domestic violence occurrences.
Just like one parent has the right to seek modification of a custody arrangement due to domestic violence suspicions, the other parent has the right to defend themselves.
Are you facing an attempt by an ex to modify a custody arrangement, alleging you’ve been violent towards them or the children? In such instances, you will have to get in touch with a very experienced family law attorney and prepare for a major court battle.
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