Domestic violence, child abuse or spousal abuse comes in many forms and an experienced family attorney can give help you protect yourself from further abuse. Violence in the home is, unfortunately, quite common and there is a great deal overlap between family law and criminal law when domestic violence occurs. Under Arizona Revised Statute 13-3601, the criminal law dealing with domestic violence, there are numerous forms of abuse, including:
- Physical violence
- Sexual assault
- Threats and intimidation
- Coercion through threats of physical violence
- Child abuse and neglect
- Isolation of the victim from family, friends and coworkers
In many cases, you may be fearful of coming forward and seeking help because you do not want to incur the wrath of your abusive spouse. Even if you are scared, you should seek help. There are many agencies that can assist you with alternate living arrangements and other resources. In addition, your lawyer can help you seek legal remedies to protect yourself and children. The courts and police take domestic violence very seriously and you may be able to get a restraining order or order of protection. A qualified family attorney in the Phoenix or Scottsdale area can answer all of your questions about these processes.
What rights do I have if my children are being abused?
As discussed above, domestic violence is not just physical violence among a husband and wife. In many cases, children are used as pawns or proxies for animosity between parents. If you suspect that your child is being physical harmed, sexually abused, or emotionally neglected you are obligated to protect them.
Arizona family courts and child protective services have many resources available to protect children from violence, and they will work to protect the child’s best interest.
- In Arizona, the legal standard for custody and visitation rights with children is “the best interest of the child”
- The court will examine the type of harm that is occurring or has been alleged and how that conduct bears on the child’s well being
- Mere accusations may not be enough to separate a child from the parent(s)
It is important to realize that abuse and neglect are not the same thing. You may not have physically harmed the child, but you may still face an adverse custody ruling if you have engaged in behavior constituting neglect. One of the most common forms of neglect is leaving the child unsupervised when they are not old enough to care for themselves. Accusations or evidence of neglect can be very damaging to your case.
Every family has a different dynamic and the courts cannot use a “one size fits all” approach. Regardless of which side you are on, you need a skilled and passionate family lawyer telling your side of the story and advocating for your rights.
Will I lose my children if I have been accused of domestic abuse?
There is no definite answer to this question because every situation is different. The courts and social services will have to investigate to ensure that abuse actually occurred and what is in the best interest of the child.
It is generally believed that children should have contact with both of their parents and it is rare for a parent to lose all access to their children. There are many ways for courts to structure visitation rights when abuse has occurred and one of the primary tools is “supervised visitation”.
- Supervised visitation requires that you interact with your children in the presence of a trained social worker. The social worker facilitates the interaction and makes sure that no harm occurs to the child. If there is no threat or harm to the child, the social worker will allow the visit to occur without interfering.
If supervised visitation is imposed, it is important to realize that such visitation works to protect both the child and the parent. The child remains safe and the parent does not risk false or erroneous accusations of abuse. In cases where there is documented evidence of serious domestic violence or a history of domestic abuse, the courts are obligated to award custody to the non-offending parent. If you have a criminal history of violent behavior, it will be very difficult for the court to establish your fitness as a parent or that custody is in the children’s best interest.
- Arizona Revised Statute 25-403.3 clearly states that a history of domestic violence creates a presumption that you are not capable of acting in the best interest of the child. The presumption is stronger if the act of violence was committed against the actual child. If the domestic violence was against your spouse the presumption may be easier to overcome but it will still require significant effort and skill on the part of your attorney.
What if my spouse has falsely accused me of domestic violence?
Domestic relations and the law governing family relationships can be very complex. There are many legitimate cases of domestic violence, but it is an unfortunate fact that many spouses also make up false accusations to “get even” with a spouse or former partner that has angered them in some way. If you have been falsely accused or a loved one is using false accusations as a threat to gain an advantage in custody, support or visitation negotiations, you need experienced legal counsel advocating for you.
As my attorney, how can you help me?
Attorney Judd Nemiro has been practicing family law for years. He knows how to weigh your legal options against your family concerns and come up with the best practical solution to your problem. Our office will:
- Explain Arizona family law and how allegations of domestic violence can affect your case.
- File necessary paperwork for you, including restraining orders and petitions for child support or custody
- Prepare your case for trial or court hearings
- Mr. Nemiro is always ready to take cases to court if it is the best solution to your problem.
Domestic violence can have serious implications for the outcome of your case. Call Judd Nemiro’s office to evaluation of your case!