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Addressing Spousal And Child Abuse Allegations In Divorce

Domestic violence remains a problem for families across Arizona. Arizona law provides victims of domestic violence a number of potential remedies to stop abuse or harassment. In addition to filing charges in criminal court, victims of abuse can file civil orders of protection or injunctions against harassment to protect themselves from a spouse, significant other, family member or other third party.

It is also common to see false claims of abuse to gain leverage in a child custody case. In these situations, it is important to defend yourself against these often outrageous, but serious accusations. Once made, false claims must be dealt with swiftly before judges enter orders that can affect your rights to see your children while the allegations are being investigated. I see many of these cases because I regularly receive referrals for these types of allegations; it is important to seek representation quickly.

Seeking Orders Of Protection Or Injunctions

The first step in obtaining an order of protection (OOP) or injunction against harassment (IAH), is to petition the court on an ex-parte basis, meaning without the other party’s knowledge. If you allege that an act of domestic violence has occurred or even that you fear an act of domestic violence may occur, the court will likely issue a temporary order until a hearing is scheduled. If you are related to or were involved in a relationship with the party against whom you are seeking the order, you can seek an order of protection. If you are not related to the party or not in a relationship with the party, you can seek an injunction against harassment. If you are successful, a judge will issue the order without hearing from the other party. You will then need to serve the order or injunction on the other party for it to be effective.

If the other party requests a hearing, you must defend the order or injunction you have sought. At the initial hearing, the other party is given an opportunity to admit to or deny the allegations of domestic abuse or to agree to the entry of the order without determining whether domestic abuse has occurred. If a denial is made, the hearing takes place, with each party putting on evidence.

Injunctions against harassment can be different as they seek to protect unwanted contact. If a person alarms, annoys or harasses you without serving a legitimate purpose and their actions cause you to suffer substantial emotional distress, you can seek an injunction. It only takes two or more acts by the same person before you can seek an injunction.

The Impact Of An Order Of Protection Or Injunction

The effects of an order of protection can be significant. If not challenged or the defendant loses, it is in place for one year. If the order excludes the accused party from the marital residence or the residence the parties shared if not married, the accused party will only be able to retrieve personal belongings with the help of a police officer or sheriff. If a finding is made by the court that an act of domestic violence has occurred, this determination can have an effect on the custody determination in a divorce or paternity action. Further, the alleged offender may be prohibited from owning and carrying firearms, including for recreational purposes such as hunting. Finally, the order can be seen by those running background checks, such as employers.

Consultation With Lawyer Matthew Schultz

Often, orders of protection are associated with upcoming divorce actions. In these cases, our firm has seen how underlying issues of control and credibility can impact the accusations or rebuttals. We believe it is best to consider every legal option available. Contact Tempe attorney Matthew Schultz for a initial consultation by calling 480-730-5400.