Criminal Charges & Child Custody

Astonishingly, in Arizona if a person is convicted or “found to have committed” any misdemeanor drug offense, or any DUI within  “12 months” of a custody dispute, there is a “presumption” that the person with the conviction should not have “sole” or even “joint” custody of their own child.  See ARS § 25-403.04.

By the same token, merely any “evidence” of “domestic violence,” including common misdemeanors, works automatically and seriously against the person seeking custody, and can affect even visitation.

In this instance, again,  no conviction is necessary.  Rather the judge presiding over the custody dispute has the specific power to decide herself whether domestic violence of any form has in fact “occurred.”  The judge can rely  solely on the arrest record and police reports and any testimony.   See ARS § 35-40.03(B)

And if the judge finds any domestic violence has occurred, not only is sole or joint custody possibly out the window now, but she can even severely limit visitation, prohibiting  “overnight” visits.   In fact, the person found to have committed domestic violence in Arizona has the legal  “burden of proving” to the judge, that  any visitation “will not endanger the child or significantly impair the child’s emotional development.”  See ARS § 35-403.03.