Can Domestic Violence With My Partner Affect My Custody Matters?

Domestic violence situations are emotionally turbulent and confusing. It often takes domestic violence victims several attempts to leave an abusive partner for good. Sometimes, both partners will have documented instances of domestic violence against each other. All of this can be emotionally and physically damaging to a child’s development. Your custody over your children may be the final push to get you to leave a toxic relationship. Read on to learn more about how domestic violence with a new partner can affect your custody matters with children from a previous relationship in Arizona. To schedule your free case evaluation with a member of our Arizona family law team, call 480-448-9800

Arizona family law lawyer in a domestic violence case

Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is defined in Arizona by A.R.S. § 13-3601. It is characterized by the relationship between the victim and the defendant. The relationships that satisfy the requirements for domestic violence in Arizona include:

  • Former or current marriage
  • Former or current household members
  • Child in common
  • Pregnancy in common
  • Parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, sibling, or in-law
  • Blood relative of former or current household member
  • Current or previous romantic or sexual relationship- the court will look at the type and length of the relationship, the frequency of interaction, and if the relationship has ended, how long it has been since it ended

Domestic violence can be a dangerous crime against a child, as well as a litany of other offenses. Acts involving violence, harassment, abuse, stalking, etc., can all be considered domestic violence in Arizona. A.R.S. § 13-3601 also contains several details about how the police should proceed with a domestic violence investigation, specifically if either party possesses a firearm. 

When the police and court become involved in domestic violence situations, it is often necessary to issue a protective order. A protective order is meant to keep the abuser from continuing to harm the victim and their family. You can find an example of an Arizona Order of Protection here. If you are facing a custody matter and believe you may also need an Order of Protection, you have a high-stakes case and should consider retaining an attorney. 

Repeated acts of domestic violence create the possibility of the offender being charged with aggravated domestic violence, defined by A.R.S. § 13-3601.02. A defendant is charged with aggravated domestic violence in Arizona if this is their third or subsequent violation of a domestic violence offense in the past 84 months or 7 years. There is no sentence suspension or probation for this charge- the minimum prison sentence if convicted is 4 months. Aggravated domestic violence is a class 5 felony in Arizona, and a conviction under this statute would be a major cause for concern for a family law judge. If you or your child’s other parent is involved in an aggravated domestic violence situation, you should be prepared for custody proceedings- call 480-448-9800 for your free consultation today.

Factors Impacting Child Custody in Arizona

A.R.S. § 25-403 lists eleven factors that Arizona family law judges should consider when determining a child’s best interests. This is the top priority in making a custody decision, rather than what is convenient for the parents, or even their new partners. An Arizona family law judge can also consider any other factors that could be relevant to the child’s best interests based on their specific circumstances. The eleven factors laid out by § 25-403 include:

  • Each parent’s past, present, and potential future relationship with the child
  • The interaction and interrelationship between the child and the child’s parents, siblings, and any other person who may significantly affect the child’s best interests
  • The child’s adjustment to home, school, and community
  • If the child is of a suitable age and maturity level, their own wishes as to which parent(s) should have custody
  • The physical and mental health of everyone involved
  • Which parent is more likely to allow frequent and meaningful contact with the other parent- unless it is to protect the child from being a victim of or witnessing domestic violence
  • Whether one parent intentionally misled the court to delay proceedings, increase litigation costs, or persuade the court to give that parent a favor in custody determinations
  • Whether there has been domestic violence or child abuse
  • The nature and extent of coercion or duress used by either parent in obtaining a custody agreement
  • Whether either parent has been convicted of false reporting of child abuse or neglect

Clearly, domestic violence with a new partner can be relevant to several of the factors described above. Witnessing domestic violence, even if a hand is never laid on the child, can be incredibly harmful to a child’s development and can be a valid reason for one parent to withhold custody from the other. That court doesn’t want to wait around for a new partner who is violent against a child’s parents to turn that violence toward the child. If the child is already being abused, the matter will be even more pressing. To discuss your situation and how these factors may come into play, as well as any other factors that may be relevant in your case, call our firm for your free consultation at 480-448-9800

Emergency Child Custody Hearings

If you or your child’s other parent has recently been involved in a domestic violence dispute, it may be necessary to request an emergency hearing from the court regarding child custody. Typically, a court will make parents wait 12 months from the issuance of their last custody orders before they can request a modification. However, a custody modification can be granted at any time if the child is in danger. This is codified by A.R.S. § 25-1034. An emergency custody modification hearing can also be held because a child was abandoned or their sibling or parent is subjected to or threatened with mistreatment or abuse. That means that one parent can request an emergency modification hearing if they get wind of domestic violence in the other parent’s new relationship. The court can modify both parenting time and legal decision-making at these hearings, whether on a temporary or permanent basis. The court tends to proceed much faster in emergency custody modifications than it does for standard legal matters. If you wait to retain an attorney for your emergency custody issue, it could be too late. Call today to schedule your free consultation with one of our skilled Arizona family lawyers at 480-448-9800

Contact Our Arizona Family Law Attorneys for Your Free Consultation

Even if your child isn’t the direct victim of domestic violence, it can still have a negative impact on them. Usually, the best thing for the child is to be removed from the situation, at least temporarily. Arizona family law courts have good intentions in making custody orders, but without the proper legal guidance, your message to the court could be not taken seriously enough or misconstrued entirely. AZ Family Law Lawyers has experience dealing with all types of cases, from the most amicable of splits to long and contentious divorces and custody battles. They all share something in common- an experienced family law attorney can make the process easier. To schedule your free consultation with one of our capable Arizona custody lawyers, call 480-448-9800


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