Can my abusive ex still gain child custody?
When a judge is making a decision on child custody in a divorce case, the best interests of the child or children are put first. This is the case both in matters of legal and physical custody. In prioritizing the best interests of a minor, domestic violence is taken very seriously. Arizona courts do not get custody to a parent in cases where one party has been proven to be violent. In fact, parents cannot be given joint legal custody if it has been established that there was violence in a home where minors lived.
In making a decision about child custody where domestic violence has been reported, Arizona courts consider;
-ruling from other courts if they are any,
-medical, police and child protective services reports,
-records from domestic violence shelter records,
-testimonies from witnesses.
If a court examines evidence and finds that a parent has been violent against the other parent, the court has to make a legal assumption that it would not be in the best interests of a child to give custody to the abusive parent. The abusive parent can also not be given parenting time which is what visitation is called in Arizona. This is until the parent can convince the judge that visiting the child will not put them in danger or interfere with their emotional development.
If the judge is convinced, conditions will be set for parenting time as follows;
-that parenting time is done in a protected place such as the lobby of a police station,
-that the visits are supervised by a state agency,
-that another family member or member of the household can supervise the visits under specific conditions,
-that the abusive parent cannot possess or consume alcohol or drugs during the visits or 24 hours before a visit.
-overnight visits are banned,
-that the abusive parent pays a bond to ensure a child is returned safely,
-that the address of the child and the other party is not revealed to the abusive parent,
-that the abusive parent meets the costs for the parenting time if any, and
-that any other condition needed to ensure the safety of the child and the other parent is set and accepted by the abusive parent.
Parental rights termination
A court also has the right to terminate the rights of a parent. This is in cases there is a history and pattern of domestic violence. In such cases, the child’s relative, physician, foster parent, Arizona Department of Economic Security or licensed welfare agency can go to court and file a petition for the rights of an abusive parent to be terminated. If a court grants the petition, then the abusive parent will lose all their rights; they will lose both legal and physical custody of a child.
If you spouse or partner is abusive, a Scottsdale divorce attorney can find and present evidence of the same. A proficient Scottsdale family law attorney will help you get the protection that you and your child or children need.
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Scottsdale, AZ 85260