Orders of Protection Updates

by Benjamin Cunningham, Esq.

In Arizona, there are at least 29 different laws that outline the actions a person can do that will meet the definition of Domestic Violence. These laws range from felonies like child abuse or aggravated assault (Shooting, Stabbing, Strangulation) to misdemeanors like damage to the property of another person or disturbing the peace or quiet of a neighborhood.

Arizona law (A.R.S. § 13-3602) provides that a court can issue an Order of Protection if a person credibly alleges that they have endured acts of domestic violence by a family member or intimate partner. The goal of that order is to prevent further acts of domestic violence from occurring. The protective order can list children and can even grant exclusive use of a home to the protected party.

Effective September 24, 2022, A.R.S. § 13-3602(N) was amended to extend the protected period from one year to two years after the date the Defendant is served with the Order. This change affords survivors of domestic violence greater protection, but that extension can have significant consequences in family court.

In a family court action involving children, Arizona law states that “The court shall consider evidence of domestic violence as being contrary to the best interests of the child.” The statute, which applies even if there is not an Order of Protection issued, requires the Judge to determine whether there has been significant domestic violence and/or that there has been a significant history of domestic violence. An Order of Protection, particularly if upheld after a hearing, can be strong evidence for the court to consider. What the court decides can have a significant impact on the court’s determination regarding legal decision making and child support. These decisions affect the relationship each parent has with their child and defines their roles as a parent. These analyses regarding domestic violence are fact-intensive and nuanced; consulting with a skilled family law attorney can help to guide you through the process.

Even if the family court action does not involve children, an order granting the protected person exclusive use of a residence for two years can significantly complicate the exchange of personal property and seriously delay the resolution of property disputes or even affect the sale of the home.

These analyses regarding domestic violence are fact-intensive and nuanced. Whether you are the Plaintiff seeking to uphold an Order of Protection or a Defendant seeking to have an order quashed, consulting with a skilled family law attorney before obtaining or challenging an Order of protection can be a critical step help to guide you through the process in an appropriate way and in the appropriate forum.