How Does Domestic Abuse Affect Child Custody
Divorce and child custody fights can happen in a variety of relationship types. Sometimes the relationship can be decent, but people need to go their separate ways. Other times, the couple splitting up might be less amicable. Specifically, there could be abuse, whether violent or otherwise. Also, the presence of domestic abuse complicates divorce and child custody. It has wide-ranging implications for how terminating a marriage – and deciding who gets custody of the kids – will play out, legally speaking.
Here, we briefly discuss domestic abuse in Arizona and its significance for a divorce or child custody case.
What is domestic abuse?
Many people will think of physical abuse when they hear the term “domestic violence.” It actually refers to many different kinds of conduct.
For instance, in Arizona, abusive behavior could refer to five different types of conduct:
This would include conduct like sexually assaulting a family or household member, making a family or household member afraid that they will be subjected to immediate physical injury, or perpetrating a pattern of abuse that could lead to a protective order for a parent or child.
It could also include more obvious examples, like physical assault, threats, harassment, intimidation, or secretly watching the victims. The abuse can be on the internet, by telephone, or in person.
In this way, what constitutes “abuse” – under Arizona law – covers various types of conduct. While something might seem minor, it could be abuse and have ramifications for divorce and child custody.
Do you need to be in a certain kind of relationship for it to count as abuse?
In Arizona, several different relationship types qualify behavior as abuse under the law.
Specifically, the law protects the following people in these scenarios:
This list speaks to the various ways two people can be involved and have one or both people’s conduct constitute domestic abuse. In fact, you do not have to be married for the law to apply.
How does domestic abuse affect divorce and child custody?
When a marriage ends, the court will need to decide who gets custody of the children. Custody can mean legal or physical custody.
Legal custody refers to the ability of each parent to make decisions for the child (such as in their health or education).
Physical custody means direct physical contact, like providing daily care (such as cooking the child’s dinner).
If one parent was abusive during the relationship, it will be significant to the court to determine who should care for and protect the children when that relationship ends.
Many factors go into determining custody. The law is protecting the best interests of the child. The focus is on them, not on the parents. The focus is on what the parents did as parents, including perpetrating domestic violence because this is clearly not in the child’s best interests to go with an abusive parent.
There are two important factors from Arizona law that involve domestic violence in determining child custody. First if there was domestic violence or child abuse. And second, whether either parent was convicted of falsely reporting child abuse.
Regarding the abuse, the court will decide whether it is more likely than not the abuse happened, based on police reports and witness testimony.
The parent that perpetrated the violence or abuse has a decreased likelihood of receiving a positive custody order on their behalf. If the court believes the person was abusive, they will be seen as a less suitable parent when considering the child’s best interest.
Moreover, when there is domestic abuse, there cannot be joint custody.
Domestic abuse can complicate a child custody case. But the one thing that can greatly improve the outcome of any case is acting quickly. Call Reppucci & Roeder today for a free consultation so that we can start fighting for the best possible outcome in your case.
Call Reppucci & Roeder today at (480) 418-6420.
Ryan Reppucci is the managing partner at Reppucci & Roeder and is recognized as one of Phoenix’s leading family law attorneys. After graduating from Arizona State with the highest honors and inclusion in America’s most prestigious student honor societies, Ryan attended the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law. His career as a law student was decorated with numerous awards, including the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law Book Award, nomination for membership in Who’s Who Among Students in American Colleges and Universities, as well as Moot Court.
Ryan began his law career in the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office in various roles with America’s busiest criminal court systems. His success in these roles led to a clerkship with a leading criminal defense firm. Recognizing that his passion was in helping families, Ryan chose to move back to his native hometown of Phoenix, Arizona, where he began his practice in Family and Domestic Relations Law. Throughout his career, Ryan has stayed committed to excellence, service to others, and integrity within the legal profession. As part of his mantra of service to others, Ryan has served as Judge Pro Tempore for the Maricopa County Superior Court and regularly teaches as an adjunct law professor with Arizona Summit Law School.