Understanding Orders of Protection in Arizona

by | Jun 24, 2024 | Family Law

In Arizona, there are at least 29 different laws that define acts of domestic violence. These laws cover a range of offenses, from felonies like child abuse or aggravated assault (which includes shooting, stabbing, and strangulation) to misdemeanors such as damage to another person’s property or disturbing the peace and quiet of a neighborhood or family.

Seeking an Order of Protection

Arizona law authorizes the court to issue an Order of Protection when there is reasonable cause to believe that a family member or intimate partner will commit or has committed an act of domestic violence within the last twelve months. An Order of Protection can also include provisions for the protection of children and pets and may grant exclusive use of a home to the protected party.

Changes to the Law

Effective September 24, 2022, Arizona extended the duration of Orders of Protection from one year to two years. This change provides greater protection for survivors of domestic violence but also has significant implications in family court. When a family court judge is aware of an Order of Protection, they have practical tools to assist in preventing further victimization during and after the litigation.

Impact on Family Law Cases

In family law cases that do not involve children, an order granting the protected person exclusive use of a residence for two years can complicate the exchange of personal property and potentially delay the resolution of property disputes or the sale of the marital home.

For cases involving minor children, an Order of Protection can serve as evidence that a judge has made a finding that domestic violence has occurred or is likely to occur. Under Arizona law, “The court shall consider evidence of domestic violence as being contrary to the best interests of the child.” Evaluation of domestic violence requires the family court judge to determine whether there has been domestic violence or a significant history of domestic violence. These are fact-intensive cases that require a skilled family law attorney to navigate.

Legal Advice is Crucial

Although you may be tempted to immediately request a hearing if you have been served with an Order of Protection, it is critical to first seek legal advice. A lawyer can evaluate the allegations and help you devise a strategy for contesting the order appropriately and in the appropriate forum.

By understanding the nuances of domestic violence laws and the implications of Orders of Protection, you can better navigate the legal system and protect your rights and interests. If you find yourself facing such a situation, consult with a knowledgeable family law attorney to guide you through the process.