Domestic Violence and Its Impact on Child Custody in Arizona

Sullivan Law Office | Domestic Violence and Its Impact on Child Custody in Arizona

Domestic Violence and Its Impact on Child Custody in Arizona

Domestic violence is a pervasive issue that affects millions of individuals worldwide. In the context of child custody, it becomes an even more complex and sensitive matter, as the court’s primary concern is the safety and well-being of the child involved. This blog post aims to shed light on how domestic violence impacts child custody proceedings in the state of Arizona, outlining relevant laws and guidelines established to protect the best interests of children.

  1. The Impact of Domestic Violence on Child Custody:
    Domestic violence can have significant implications for child custody (both legal decision making and parenting time) determinations. Arizona recognizes the potential harm that exposure to domestic violence can inflict on children, both physically and emotionally. The court takes into account the safety and well-being of the child when making decisions regarding custody and visitation arrangements.

  2. Arizona Revised Statutes:
    The Arizona Revised Statutes (A.R.S.) provide guidance on child custody matters involving domestic violence. According to A.R.S. §25-403, the court determines custody based on the child’s best interests, taking into account various factors, including:
    a) The child’s relationship with each parent. b) The child’s adjustment to home, school, and community. c) The mental and physical health of all individuals involved. d) The ability of each parent to foster a positive and nurturing relationship with the child. e) Any history of domestic violence or child abuse.

  3. Domestic Violence and the “Best Interests” Standard:
    In cases where domestic violence is present, Arizona courts prioritize the child’s safety and well-being. A.R.S. §25-403.03 mandates that the court must consider certain factors when determining child custody in cases involving domestic violence. These factors include:
    a) The nature and extent of the domestic violence. b) The impact of the domestic violence on the child. c) The safety of the child and the victimized parent. d) Whether the perpetrator has completed counseling or treatment for domestic violence.

  4. Protective Orders and Custody Proceedings:
    In situations where domestic violence has occurred, the victimized parent may seek a protective order, also known as an Order of Protection, to safeguard themselves and their children. An Order of Protection can play a crucial role in child custody proceedings by providing documented evidence of the domestic violence and demonstrating the need for protective measures.

  5. The Role of Parenting Plans:
    In Arizona, parenting plans outline legal decision making and a parenting time schedule for children. When there has been a history of domestic violence, the court may require specific provisions within the parenting plan to ensure the child’s safety. These provisions can include supervised visitation, exchanges in a protected setting, or restrictions on communication between the parties.


Domestic violence has a profound impact on child custody determinations in Arizona. The courts prioritize the safety and well-being of the child when making legal decision making and parenting time decisions. Understanding the relevant laws and guidelines, such as those outlined in the Arizona Revised Statutes, is crucial for both victims of domestic violence and their legal representatives. By taking into account the nature and extent of the domestic violence and its impact on the child, the court strives to protect children from harm and create a safe and nurturing environment.


  1. Arizona Revised Statutes:
  2. Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence:
  3. Arizona Judicial Branch: