Like many other states, Arizona has a special law that can really change the equation in custody and parenting time cases.
The point of this law is to prevent those who commit domestic violence from hurting more people and to keep victims safe from additional harm.
This law also recognizes that child custody cases where domestic violence is in the background just cannot be handled like any other family law matter.
A parent credibly accused of domestic violence may not have custody
Under Arizona law, a Tucson parent who has been credibly accused of domestic violence may not receive legal or physical custody of her child.
The alleged perpetrator has the option to try to rebut the presumption that he should not have custody, but that will involve his having to climb an uphill battle in court and prove that he has been rehabilitated.
This law is quite broad. A person accused does not have to have been arrested or charged with a crime, much less convicted. In other words, a much lower standard of proof applies in the world of family law.
Moreover, there is no rule that says the children involved had to have experienced or witnessed any violence. In fact, the violence need not have been against the children’s other parent.
A domestic violence accusation could also require restricted parenting time
Arizona’s law also provides that a parent accused of domestic violence will have to show that his having a relationship with his children will not endanger them. If he does so, then the court is still likely to impose restrictions on his parenting time.
Supervised parenting time at the expense of the accused or a bar on his overnight visits are options.
The court may also order a parent to post a bond, attend counseling at her expense or observe other restrictive rules.
Applying Arizona’s law is often a complicated affair.
On one hand, it can be hard to convince a court to offer protections to a victim of domestic violence, so a victim will want professional legal help proving her case.
On the other hand, it is an unfortunate fact that some parents in Pima County may fabricate or greatly exaggerate allegations in order to get an edge in an Arizona custody dispute.