Domestic violence and child abuse are serious matters that occur far too frequently. Statistics for the rates of domestic violence and child abuse are high, but it’s likely that they are still underreported. People are often embarrassed to admit when there is a problem and try to fix it from within the family. This doesn’t work, though, and the problems tend to escalate. So you may need help on how to prove abusive behavior, whether it’s for yourself or your children.
If you are getting a divorce from someone who has been abusive or who is still abusive toward you and/or the children, it’s good that you are finally getting out. It’s a big and difficult step for a lot of people. Now that you are out of the situation, you still want to make sure that your children remain safe. You don’t want the kids to be in a situation where they could come to harm whether it’s physically, mentally, or emotionally.
How Does Domestic Violence Affect Child Custody?
Domestic violence and child abuse are sure to affect child custody orders. The courts in Arizona want to do what’s best for the children, and this means keeping them safe from harm. Although the courts would like for all parents to be able to spend time with their children, it may not always be as simple as splitting up the parenting time. Sometimes, one parent is a danger to the children, and shouldn’t be around them, at least not without supervision.
In Arizona, many things can qualify as domestic violence and abuse. This includes sexual assaulting or causing serious harm or injury to those in the family or household. Attempts to sexually assault or cause serious harm or injury to family members or those in the household. Additionally, causing family or household members to fear that could be about to suffer immediate physical injury.
If there are patterns of serious abusive behavior, it’s a good idea to get a protective order from the court for yourself or your children. This can provide some added protection, and it can be used in court when it comes to custody cases.
Even if the child is not being physically, sexually, or emotionally abused, if they witness this abuse being directed toward you or others in the family, it will still seriously affect them. It’s estimated that each year, millions of children are witness to serious domestic violence between their parents. Children need to be kept out of those situations. So should adults in those relationships for that matter.
Acts that qualify as domestic violence include:
- Physical assault
- Sexual assault
- Unlawful imprisonment
- Damage to property
- Photographing without permission and secretly watching victims
These acts are domestic violence whether they happen in person or if they occur over the phone, online, or through writing.
Those who are protected under the domestic violence laws in Arizona include current and former spouses, people who cohabitate or who used to cohabitate, those who have a child together, relationships where one partner is pregnant with the other’s child, people related by marriage or blood, children, and those who are or were in a romantic or sexual relationship with one another.
What Is Needed to Prove Domestic Violence and/or Child Abuse?
How can you prove these types of abuse? It can often be difficult, and the courts will want to look for actual evidence rather than just hearsay. They will look at findings from other courts, if there have been issues in the past, for example. This could help to show that there is a pattern of abusive behavior.
They will also look at police reports. If there are reports of the police needing to respond to domestic disturbance situations, this can act as evidence that one of the parties has been abusive to others. They will also look at medical reports, child protective services records, domestic violence shelter records, and school records.
Schools, for example, could have reports that indicate excessive absenteeism, coming to school with bruises, the kids telling stories of what happened at their house, etc. Teachers will typically also report this behavior to the authorities.
Witness testimony is also important. If others were witnesses to the violence, their statements and testimony could be used by the court when judges are making decisions about what will happen to the kids.
When going through a divorce, tensions run high, and anger is the order of the day. It’s understandable to be upset about the divorce, but it’s also important to be honest about what’s happening in the household. No matter how upset you are with your spouse, you must never lie about domestic violence or other types of abuse. This is a serious matter, and if someone is accused of something they did not do, it could ruin their life.
Of course, when it’s found out that you accused someone of something they didn’t do, it will also hurt your chance of getting more parenting time with the kids. The courts don’t look kindly on people who lie.
No matter how angry you might feel, be honest about the household situation. If there are serious problems and abuse, you should always take the proper actions. If not, don’t try to hurt your ex out of spite. You will end up hurting everyone, including the kids, when you do this.
Contact an Attorney
If you or your children are in a situation where danger is present or where you feel under threat, it’s important to get help as soon as possible. You don’t want to wait until too late and the problems escalate. Getting a protective order is often the first step, but others may need to leave their home with the kids even before filing for an order of protection.
Consider talking with an attorney about the options you have, and the ways you can prove that it is not safe for your kids to be around your spouse. They can help to guide you on what you need to do, the types of evidence that will be needed, etc.