The family courts in Arizona have a primary goal of supporting families and keeping children safe. In many cases, those two things do not always match up. What one party might think safe, the other party may not.
The presumption in Arizona’s courts is to support families and to allow the children to spend time with each of their parents as much as possible. Often, this is the best solution, as it ensures the children will have the love and support of both of their parents. It has the potential to lead to better outcomes for the children. Of course, it doesn’t always work like this, and with good reason.
The court also needs to be sure that it is safe for the children to spend time with both parents. Are they as safe with one parent as they are with another? It’s important to keep in mind that safety can mean many things. Naturally, it includes physical safety for the kids, but it also encompasses mental and emotional safety.
The Problem of Past Trauma
In some situations, there may be past trauma that could play a role. Past trauma is a type of psychological scar that happens when someone goes through a period of distress. Any number of different types of issues could potentially cause trauma. Whether it’s the loss of a loved one, having a close encounter with death, or even just reliving times of extreme embarrassment would all count.
Those who have experienced these types of traumas will often find that there are certain triggers that can cause them emotional harm now. The triggers, of course, can vary. It could be because you are put in a similar situation or environment, for example. Even certain words or scents could be triggers.
What happens if there is a past trauma that may have been caused by one of the parents? The court needs to determine how or if it is possible for the relationship to be rebuilt.
Keep in mind that the trauma the child suffers may not have been intentional. Parents who have good intentions may cause this type of harm to their children without even knowing it. This doesn’t mean that they are bad parents. It just means that they are human. They may have said or done something inadvertently that caused their child some type of trauma. Even things like making the child go to the dentist, which is needed, can be considered trauma if the child hates and fears the dentist.
The court has to understand the differences between the types of trauma or other issues with the parents to ensure that the children are kept safe. Many times, it is still possible for them to spend time with their kids, but the parenting arrangements might be different. They may not get equal time, or they may be required to have supervised visits.
Other Major Issues
There are also larger issues that can be at play that will determine the court’s decision. One of those is domestic violence. If there is a toxic relationship where one of the partners is always mean, controlling, vindictive, and abusive, then it’s often considered domestic violence. However, it can depend on the situation, as well as the judge in the case.
You may have been treated terribly during the marriage, but when it comes to the kids, the court needs to determine whether the kids will be safe with the other parent. If the anger and abuse were directed solely toward you and not toward the children, the courts might say that the other parent should still have equal parenting time with you.
Even though the research doesn’t always line up with this, it’s the way the courts often view things. They feel that allowing both of the parents to have parenting time is the best solution.
What if your ex was also abusive to the children? Physical abuse is often easier to prove than mental and emotional abuse. There could be medical records, for example, that would corroborate what you are saying, and that could give the judge the information they need to make their decision. Even though emotional and psychological abuse may be more difficult to prove, it can be done with the right experts.
Your goal, just like the court, should be to do what’s best for your kids. If you feel that your ex is abusive toward them, talk with your attorney and determine the ways that you can prove this.
Case by Case
The goal of the court is supporting families. Mainly, to allow both parents to have parenting time with the kids, and they want to make sure that the kids are safe. As mentioned, it doesn’t always work out this way for one reason or another. Each case is different, and this means that the outcomes of the case can vary substantially. Even in cases that might seem similar, certain circumstances could alter the outcome, or certain judges with a different opinion could make a decision you aren’t happy with.
If you feel as though the judge is not listening to you or understanding you, and that you aren’t getting your point across to the judge, you need to talk with your attorney. If your attorney doesn’t listen to you or do anything to help, then it’s time to get a better lawyer. In some instances, you might be able to get an expert witness for your case. They could provide more insight into the situation, which could change the judge’s opinion and finally help them to see things from your point of view.
Their goal is to keep kids safe. By providing the judge with the added information, and helping them to see things differently, it could change the outcome of your case. After all, they really do want to do what’s best for the kids, and a major part of that is keeping them safe.
Take some time to talk with your attorney about your concerns and see what they have to say. Hopefully, they have dealt with custody situations like this in the past and will have the experience and inside you need.