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Domestic Abuse

Arizona Domestic Abuse and Protective Orders

What are Protective Orders?

Protective orders are filed by a person who has been abused or is in danger of abuse or violence from another. These orders prevent or limit the contact a person may have with the person who requests the order. These orders may also be filed by minor children who are in danger of abuse. In case of a minor child, the child’s legal guardian, parent or custodian will file the petition on the child’s behalf.

A protective order may not be an all encompassing order that forbids any kind of contact but may include certain modifications, and exceptions as needed. For instance, a protective order may prevent the respondent (the one who is being restricted) from getting within 100 feet of the protected person, or may include contact only during child visitation.

In Arizona, there are 5 types of protective orders:

  1. Order of Protection;
  2. Emergency Order of Protection;
  3. Release Order;
  4. Injunction against Harassment;
  5. Injunction against Workplace Harassment.

In Arizona, persons who believe that they are in danger of abuse or violence can seek an Order of Protection that limits the contact that the offending party has with them. For a court to issue an Order of Protection, the defendant or the offending party must fall in the following categories in terms of their relationship to you:

  • Spouse;
  • Former spouse;
  • Parent of your child;
  • Has lived with you in the past;
  • Currently lives with you;
  • Your parent, grandchild, child, brother, sister, grandparent;
  • Parents-in-law, grandparents-in-law, stepchild, step grandchild, brother-in–law, sister-in-law, stepparent or step grandparent;
  • Anyone who lives in the same house with a child. Here, the child must have a blood relationship with the former spouse of the offending party, or someone who lives or has lived in the past in the same house, as the offending party.

An Emergency Order of Protection is granted for the immediate security of a person, when there is reason to believe that there is immediate and grave danger to his/her life and safety.

How can I Obtain an Order of Protection?

A person wishing to obtain a protective order may do so by filing a petition at any Justice Court or Superior Court, or any Municipal Court. But if the petitioners and defendants are involved in a divorce case or other family law issue, then the petition will be filed at the Superior Court level. An Order of Protection is a civil order, and will not be filed in a criminal court.

It’s important to understand that granting an Order of Protection does not require witnesses to the abuse or even the presence of visible signs of violence. It may be sufficient if the petitioner can show that she or she was abused during the past year, or is in danger of being abused in the future.

Types of Domestic Violence or Abuse

Arizona statutes define a broad range of abuses that are covered under domestic violence laws. These definitions can go beyond physical violence, and include:

  • Verbal abuse
  • Emotional abuse
  • Violence against children
  • Threats of assault
  • Placing the person in a situation where there is a risk of injury
  • Verbal harassment through electronic communication devices
  • Damage to property
  • Kidnap
  • Assault
  • Videotaping, photographing or otherwise surreptitiously recording movements without your knowledge.

Protective Order Modification

A defendant, who has been restricted from contact, can also file to have an Order of Protection dismissed or modified. This can be done by filing a Request for Hearing. If an Order of Protection is granted for a period of one year, any subsequent petition to modify or dismiss the original Order of Protection must be filed within that year and in the same court that issued the original Order.

There are several ways in which a defendant may be able to prove to a court that the Order of Protection must be modified or dismissed:

  • Defendant may try to argue that the abuse allegations were false, and that there was no evidence to back these up;
  • Defendant may try to argue that there was resumption of spousal relations after the Order of Protection petition was filed;
  • Defendant may argue that there was a long time gap between the alleged abuse or violence, and the filing of a petition for an Order of Protection;
  • (The following two arguments may be presented to prove that the petitioner was not as afraid of the defendant as he/she claimed.)
  • Defendant may argue that the partner who had filed an Order of Protection had made up stories about abuse;
  • In a case where an Order of Protection is filed together with a divorce petition, he/she may argue that this was a tactical maneuver on the part of the partner filing the petition;
  • Defendant may argue that the violence could not have been serious, because the partner never sought medical care for injuries.

An Order of Protection may restrict a person’s movements around you, and will limit the kind of contact he/she has with you. However, Arizona domestic violence lawyers would advise persons to also keep their employers, authorities at their children’s school and other entities, informed of the Order of Protection. It is important that persons seeking protection also take steps to ensure their own safety, even after the Order of Protection has been issued.

Domestic Violence and Legal Decision-Making

Arizona Courts consider evidence of domestic violence as being contrary to the best interest of a child. Joint legal decision-making shall not be awarded if a Court finds the existence of significant domestic violence pursuant to ARS §13-3601 or if a preponderance of the evidence reveals a significant history of domestic violence ARS §25-403.03.

Arizona Domestic Abuse and Protective Orders Resources

Arizona Protection Orders (AZLawHelp)

Domestic Violence & Our Courts

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