EVIDENCE IN HIGH CONFLICT CASES

Brandon Sander, Esq.

A high level of conflict can have an impact on your family court case in many ways, and proving to the Judge that the other party is the cause of the conflict can be important.

Judges are human, and like any other human, have a tendency to get annoyed with two people who just can’t get along. The judge may impose sanctions on you, or you may lose legal decision-making authority over your children, if he or she determines that you are the cause of the conflict.

Thus, it can be important to show the court that the other party is the cause of the conflict and you are not.

Domestic Violence and Legal Decision-Making

If the conflict is in the form of domestic violence, or allegations of domestic violence, legal decision-making may be effected by the court finding that there has been significant domestic violence.

Under Arizona law, joint legal decision-making shall not be granted in cases where there has been significant domestic violence.

In other words, the victim parent will be granted sole legal decision making authority if he or she proves that the other parent has engaged in significant domestic violence.

Even if the domestic violence is not “significant” there is a rebuttable presumption that it is not in the child’s best interests to award any legal decision-making authority to a parent who has committed an act of domestic violence against the other parent.

As you can see, whether you are the victim of domestic violence or are being accused of committing acts of domestic violence, it is very important to be able to prove your case to the court.

The court will consider the following evidence to determine if a party has committed acts of domestic violence:

  • Findings from another court of competent jurisdiction;
  • Police reports;
  • Medical reports;
  • Records of the department of child safety;
  • Domestic violence shelter records;
  • School records;
  • Witness testimony.

The party alleging domestic violence has the burden of proving it by a preponderance of the evidence. The alleged victim’s testimony is evidence, but likely not enough to meet the burden as the court will be stuck in a “he said-she said” situation.

Whether you are the victim or being accused of domestic violence, you may also use written or otherwise recorded admissions of the other party, photographs, or written communications from the other party that support your case.

Conflict and Attorney’s Fees

Another way that conflict may impact on your case is attorney’s fees.

In family law cases, the court looks at the respective incomes of the parties and the reasonableness of positions taken during the litigation.

It is very important to document the conflict with the other party to ensure the court is aware of how the conflict came about. Many people do not realize that things such as e-mails and text messages can be used in court.

Similar to the Miranda warnings you hear on Cops, anything you type may be used against you in family court.

Thus, tracking the unreasonable behavior of the other party, and behaving reasonably yourself, is very important. If the court believes that you have acted unreasonably, you may end up paying for the opposing party’s attorney’s fees and court costs.

If you would like to work with one of our experienced Attorneys, please call OWENS & PERKINS at (480) 630-2464to schedule your free 30 minute consultation.

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