Under Arizona law, where there is an incident of significant domestic violence, or a significant history of domestic violence, the Court is prohibited from making an award of joint custody to the offender. The law is outlined in Arizona Revised Statutes, Section 25-403.03; and it was reiterated in a recent ruling handed down by the Arizona Court of Appeals in the case of Hurd v. Hurd, 1 CA-CV 07-0342, (2009). In custody matters, the Court is charged with protecting the best interests of the children. A parent who has a history of significant domestic violence, or who has committed a significant act of domestic violence, is deemed incapable of protecting the children’s interests. Therefore, he or she will not be given the responsibility, or the privilege, of acting as their joint custodian. Gary J. Frank has over 25 years of experience litigating high conflict custody matters, including domestic violence cases. Check out our web site at http://www.garyfranklaw.com/. You can always contact us by email or call our office at 602-383-3610.
A.R.S. §25-403.3, DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND CHILD ABUSE, states, in pertinent part:
A. “ . . . joint custody shall not be awarded if the court makes a finding of the existence of significant domestic violence pursuant to §13-3601 or if the court finds by a preponderance of the evidence that there has been a significant history of domestic violence.
B. The court shall consider evidence of domestic violence as being contrary to the best interests of the child. The court shall consider the safety and well-being of the child and of the victim of the act of domestic violence to be of primary importance. The court shall consider a perpetrator’s history of causing or threatening to cause physical harm to another person.
C. To determine if a person has committed an act of domestic violence the court, subject to the rules of evidence, shall consider all relevant factors including the following:
1. Findings from another court of competent jurisdiction.
2. Police reports.
3. Medical reports.
4. Child protective services records.
5. Domestic violence shelter records
6. School records.
7. Witness testimony.
D. If the court determines that a parent who is seeking custody has committed an act of domestic violence against the other parent, there is a rebuttable presumption that an award of custody to the parent who committed the act of domestic violence is contrary to the child’s best interests . . . “