How False Accusations Of Abuse Impact Divorce Proceedings In Arizona
There are many reasons why couples choose to get a divorce, and unfortunately, suffering from domestic violence is an all too common reason. Domestic violence affects the victimized partner physically, emotionally, and mentally, and is seriously damaging to any children who may be witnesses. Domestic violence also has legal consequences for divorce proceedings; the outcome of the case may hinge upon whether the allegations are found to be true or false.
If you’ve been accused of domestic violence, or if domestic violence allegations are part of your divorce, it’s imperative to work with an Arizona domestic violence attorney who has experience with domestic violence situations so you can gain solid legal advice throughout the proceedings.
How Arizona Courts Handle Allegations Of Domestic Violence
In Arizona, judges take domestic violence allegations very seriously. The court will classify the alleged incidents as “significant” or “not significant” based upon the circumstances. However, incidents that are “not significant” could still be determined “significant” if there is a large number of such incidents.
If there are allegations of domestic violence in a divorce case, the court will grant custody of any children exclusively to the victim, unless the allegedly abusive partner can sufficiently argue that sole custody of the other parent is not in the best interest of the children.
What Is Domestic Violence In Arizona?
Domestic violence is frequently misunderstood. In Arizona courts, the opinion of a counselor, therapist, social worker, or other expert as to whether a series of acts constitutes domestic violence is not legally binding on the court because domestic violence is a conclusion of law that can only be determined by a judge. In some cases, this can help protect innocent parents against false allegations of domestic violence. However, even reprehensible behavior may not actually constitute domestic violence in a legal sense.
Arizona law defines domestic violence as:
- Murder, including negligent homicide, manslaughter, first and second murder
- Making threats or intimidation
- Assault, including aggravated assault
- Custodial interference
- Unlawful imprisonment
- Preventing the use of a telephone
- Sexual assault, including unlawful disclosure of photos depicting nudity or sexual activity
- Surreptitious photography, videotaping, or other recording
- Criminal trespass and criminal damage
- Disorderly conduct
- Animal cruelty
- Abuse of a child or vulnerable adult
- Interfering with judicial proceedings
If a person’s conduct does not meet the legal requirements of these offenses, the behavior does not constitute domestic violence in Arizona and cannot be used as the basis for charges of domestic violence, even if the actions have been reprehensible.
The Effects Of Domestic Violence
There are many negative effects on a person who is the victim of domestic violence. Physical injuries are extremely common for victimized women and fairly common for victimized men. The most common physical indications of domestic violence include bruises, cuts and lesions, headaches, neck and back pain, pregnancy complications, gynecological injuries, and sexually transmitted diseases.
Another element of domestic violence, emotional abuse, is more difficult to quantify or prove in the courtroom, but can be just as damaging. Emotional abuse can occur with or without obvious signs of physical abuse and may also include verbal abuse. Regardless of what type of abuse has taken place, it frequently results in severe psychological consequences for the victimized partner, children, and others in the home who witness the abuse and its consequences. Common effects of domestic violence include depression, anxiety, paranoia, suicidal behavior, PTSD, flashbacks, loss of hope for the future, low self-esteem, sleep disturbances, difficulty concentrating, fear of intimacy and inability to trust others, and serious conditions.
Additionally, domestic violence has social effects that can make it difficult for victims to leave their situation. This is the result of the abusive partner’s control of assets such as bank accounts and vehicles, strained relationship with employers and others who could potentially help, and isolation from family and friends or other support systems.
What Are The Effects Of Domestic Violence Allegations In Arizona Divorce Cases?
In a legal sense, domestic violence allegations will likely result in the loss of custody of any children who are involved in the divorce. This may be only temporary while the charges are investigated; however, domestic violence allegations that are found to be true could cause permanent loss of custody and will negatively affect you throughout the divorce proceedings and ruling. In fact, the outcome of the entire divorce is likely to hinge on the domestic violence incidents, especially if they are severe.
Beyond the divorce itself, the abusive partner may face civil or criminal charges for their actions. If convicted, consequences may include jail time, probation, fines, community service, mandatory counseling, and loss of the right to own a firearm. Other likely implications are restraining orders, protective orders, and being ordered by the court out of your home. People convicted of domestic violence also face social consequences with their extended families and friends, damaged relationships, loss of professional licensure, and even loss of employment. An experienced Arizona domestic violence lawyer is imperative to guide both parties in a divorce with domestic violence allegations.
This article is courtesy of My AZ Family Lawyers, a family law firm dedicated to providing knowledgeable, experienced, and calm advice to families in the midst of challenging legal situations.
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