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Legal Information: Arizona


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Laws current as of December 12, 2023

Can a parent who committed violence get legal decision-making or parenting time?

While the judge will strongly consider the safety and well-being of the child and of the victim of the act of domestic violence,1 it is possible that a parent who has committed violence will get legal decision-making or parenting time.

If the parent who committed an act of domestic violence against the other parent is trying to get (joint or sole) legal decision-making, the judge will assume that awarding legal decision-making to that parent is not in the best interest of the child.2 However, the abusive parent can try to present evidence to change the judge’s mind. When making his/her decision, the judge will consider whether the abusive parent:

  • has shown that being granted legal decision-making or substantially equal parenting time is in the child’s best interests;
  • has successfully completed a batterer’s prevention program;
  • has successfully completed a program for alcohol or drug abuse prevention (if required by the court);
  • has successfully completed a parenting class (if required by the court);
  • has a protective order against him/her if that parent is on probation, parole or community supervision; and
  • has committed any further acts of domestic violence.3

The court will not grant joint legal decision-making if it finds that significant domestic violence has occurred or if there is a significant history of domestic violence.4

If the parent who committed an act of domestic violence is seeking parenting time, that parent has to prove to the judge that parenting time will not endanger the child or significantly harm the child’s emotional development. The judge may place conditions on parenting time that best protects the child and the other parent from further harm.5

Courts generally presume that it is in the child’s best interest to see both parents regularly, so they favor providing both parents with some form of legal decision-making and parenting time. Courts will only deny parenting time when there is substantial (important) evidence that parenting time would be harmful to your child.

The judge has to consider the impact of domestic violence on your child when deciding if there should be parenting time. If a judge is unsure about whether parenting time could be harmful to your child, s/he may establish specific parenting time rules that s/he thinks are in the best interest of your child. The judge can:

  • order that an exchange of your child must occur in a protected setting;
  • order that a specific agency must supervise parenting time. If the judge allows a family or household member to supervise parenting time, the judge should make conditions that this person must follow during parenting time;
  • order the abusive parent to attend and complete appropriate counseling programs;
  • order the abusive parent to not drink alcohol, take drugs, or have them is his/her possession during parenting time and for twenty-four hours before the beginning of his/her parenting time;
  • order the abusive parent to pay a fee to the court to help with the costs of supervised parenting time;
  • not allow overnight parenting time with the abusive parent;
  • order the abusive parent to place a bond (put money with the court) for the child’s safe return;
  • order that the court keep the address of you and your child confidential; and/or
  • order any other rules that the judge feels are necessary to protect you, your child, and any other family or household member.5

1 A.R.S. § 25-403.03(B)
2 A.R.S. § 25-403.03(D)
3 A.R.S. § 25-403.03(E)
4 A.R.S. § 25-403.03(A)
5 A.R.S. § 25-403.03(F)