Domestic violence or abuse affects millions of American lives every year. Domestic abuse, including child and spousal abuse, is one of the leading causes of divorce in Arizona and across the United States. In some cases, divorce proceedings may also trigger domestic violence in a previously peaceful household.
Whether domestic violence is the reason for a divorce or divorce proceedings have made a spouse violent, Arizona takes domestic violence allegations seriously. The law seeks to protect domestic violence victims in all settings, including during divorce proceedings. Domestic abuse may affect the court’s decisions in divorce, including child custody, property division, and spousal support.
While going through a divorce is hard, domestic violence makes it even harder. However, a skilled divorce attorney with broad experience handling domestic abuse and divorce can help you.
What is Domestic Violence?
Arizona defines domestic violence as a set of crimes committed against a person with whom the accused has a domestic relationship, including as a family or household member. Some criminal acts that qualify as domestic abuse include actual or attempted physical abuse, including sexual assault, harassment, intimidation and threats, stalking, kidnapping, and unlawful imprisonment.
Arizona law defines a domestic relationship to include the following:
- Spouses and former spouses
- People who have a child or are about to have a child together
- Persons currently living or have previously lived together
- Blood relatives
- Relatives by court order or by a current or former marriage
- People who are or have been in a romantic or sexual relationship
How Domestic Abuse Affects Divorce Hearings and the Court Decision
If domestic violence is one of your divorce reasons, you can request the court to issue a temporary restraining order against the abusive spouse. Since the risk of abuse is high at the point of leaving or separation, you should also consider reporting to the police even before you go to court.
Most courts will immediately grant your request for a protective order, especially if the judge believes you are in danger. However, you may need to go through a court hearing if your spouse disputes the need for such a court order. The judge will need to hear arguments from both sides before deciding on the matter.
Typically, allegations of domestic violence slow down divorce proceedings. With Arizona law requiring courts to consider “all relevant factors” when deciding on whether a person is guilty of domestic violence, the court hearing may include getting witness testimony, medical reports, police report, and other necessary information.
Even in a ‘no-fault’ state like Arizona, domestic violence can significantly affect how the court decides on issues like the division of marital property and debt, child custody, and spousal support. Where an abused spouse can show that domestic abuse caused them to lose money or the ability to earn, the court may make related considerations when dividing property and debt or deciding on alimony.
Similarly, domestic abuse can significantly influence child custody decisions, especially when there are child abuse allegations. Accordingly, the court often limits the custody rights of an abusive parent, including reducing visitation hours. In some cases, the court might terminate the abusive parent’s visitation and legal decision-making rights.
Contact a Tucson Divorce Attorney
If your divorce involves domestic abuse, it is essential to protect yourself and your children, including making a police report and requesting the court for a protective order. Besides physical and emotional safety concerns, domestic violence and related allegations often slow down and complicate the divorce process, affecting the court decision.
Fortunately, you do not have to handle everything on your own. If you are in Tucson, AZ, and your divorce involves domestic violence, we are here for you. Our compassionate, skilled, and experienced divorce attorneys at RPM Law are committed to helping you successfully navigate the divorce process while defending your rights to an abuse-free life. Contact us today for a free consultation and strong legal representation.