A.R.S. 25-403.03: Protecting Children and Victims from Domestic Violence and Abuse
Family law faces complex issues surrounding child welfare and domestic violence. A.R.S. 25-403.03 addresses these concerns by providing guidelines to safeguard children and victims. Read on to discover the key points of this crucial statute:
A. Denying Joint Legal Decision-Making in Domestic Violence Cases
Statute 25-403.03 emphasizes that joint legal decision-making, a shared responsibility for crucial decisions about a child’s upbringing, should not be awarded if the court finds significant domestic violence or a history thereof. This prioritizes the safety of children and victims.
B. Prioritizing Child Safety and Well-Being
The statute underscores the court’s responsibility to consider domestic violence evidence against the child’s best interests. The safety of the child and the victim takes precedence, and the court evaluates the perpetrator’s history of causing harm to others.
C. Factors for Determining Domestic Violence
To ascertain if an individual has committed an act of domestic violence, the court considers various factors, including findings from other courts, police reports, medical records, child protective services records, domestic violence shelter records, school records, and witness testimony.
D. Rebuttable Presumption in Domestic Violence Cases
If the court determines a parent has committed an act of domestic violence, a rebuttable presumption arises against awarding sole or joint legal decision-making to that parent. However, this presumption doesn’t apply if both parents have committed domestic violence. The statute defines acts of domestic violence, including sexual assault, causing reasonable apprehension of physical harm, or engaging in a pattern of abusive behavior.
E. Rebutting the Presumption
Parents seeking to rebut the presumption must demonstrate that awarding legal decision-making is in the child’s best interests and satisfy additional criteria, such as completing batterer’s prevention programs or counseling.
F. Ensuring Child Safety During Parenting Time
If a parent has committed domestic violence, the court must ensure that parenting time doesn’t endanger the child. Conditions may include supervised parenting time, substance abuse counseling, and protective orders. The court may impose various safeguards and restrictions to protect the child and the victim.
G. Prohibiting Joint Counseling in Domestic Violence Cases
The court explicitly prohibits joint counseling between domestic violence victims and perpetrators but may offer victims information about community resources for support.
H. Involvement of Child Protective Services
When child abuse or neglect is suspected, the court may engage the Department of Child Safety’s services.
I. Considering the Impact of Domestic Violence on Absence or Relocation
In cases involving a parent’s absence or relocation, the court may consider whether it resulted from domestic violence by the other parent, potentially mitigating any negative impact on legal decision-making or parenting time decisions.
A.R.S. 25-403.03 can be read in its entirely by clicking here.
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