By: Michelle J. Perkins, Esq.
If you are in abusive relationship, leaving can be a difficult decision. How will it impact you? How will it impact the kids? What will happen during the divorce?
The first thing you want to do is make sure you and the children are safe from the abusive spouse. How to obtain an Order of Protection was discussed in our last blog.
Once you are safe, it is time to think about filing for a divorce. Abusive spouses, while frequently remorseful and apologetic after a domestic violence episode, rarely change. In Arizona, in 2014, 290,178 emergency shelter nights were provided to women and children. (ADES – DV data). That is a staggering number!
If you need information about domestic violence resources http://www.helpguide.org is a non-profit website with information and resources to help you.
If you are ready to file for divorce, the law protects the children from a relationship of domestic violence. A.R.S. §25-403.03 states that “joint legal decision-making shall not be awarded if the court makes a finding of the existence of significant domestic violence…”
The court is required to consider evidence of domestic violence as being “contrary to the best interests of the child or children.” The court is also required to consider the safety and well-being of the child/ren and of the victim of the act of domestic violence to be of primary importance.”
That all sounds good, but how does it really work. In relationships with domestic violence the abusive spouse is usually in control, dominating and manipulating the abused spouse. Often times, even when the domestic violence is severe – causing injury and doctor’s visits, the abused spouse will not report. It is imperative that you collect and keep evidence of the domestic violence. As stated above, the court is required to consider the evidence; however, often times the abused spouse does not collect or keep the evidence of the abuse. Keep in mind, when you get to court, the abusive spouse will deny the allegations of abuse and the abused spouse is forced to prove that the domestic violence occurred.
In determining if a person has committed an act of domestic violence the court will consider things like:
- Findings from another court (like a criminal court)
- Police reports
- Medical reports
- Records from CPS
- Records from domestic violence shelters
- School records
- Testimony from people who have witnessed the domestic violence (not someone you told about it)
If you would like to speak with one of our experienced Attorneys, please call Owens & Perkins at (480) 630-2464 to schedule a 30-minute complimentary consultation.