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Domestic violence and child custody

Domestic violence is an issue in Arizona that sometimes affects child custody case outcomes. People who have committed domestic abuse against their significant others may sometimes be given parenting time or legal decision-making for their children in some cases.

Courts will look at whether the child will be safe while in the care of the domestic abuser. In most cases, a parent who has committed domestic violence against their child's other parent will not be given legal decision-making for the child, as the judge will begin with the presumption that it would not be in the child's best interests.

Those who have committed acts of domestic violence may overcome the presumption by showing several different things. They will need to prove to the court that their being granted parenting time on an equal basis and legal decision-making is in their child's best interests. They will also need to submit proof that they completed a domestic violence prevention course. The court may require them to complete parenting classes or drug and alcohol classes as well. In making the decision, a judge will also look at whether the victim has a protection order against the abuser and whether the abuser has committed any more domestic violence acts. If the history of violence is a significant one, a judge will not grant legal decision-making to the parent.

Since joint legal custody involves both parents participating in the decision-making process for their child, courts are careful about making the decision to grant it when there is a history of domestic violence between them. A domestic violence victim may want to get help from a family law attorney if the abuser is seeking parenting time and joint decision-making.

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