Unlike most crimes, an accusation of domestic can begin two separate legal proceedings. There is the criminal charge that could put you in jail. And, often, the accusing party will file for an Order of Protection against you as well. An Order of Protection is commonly known as a restraining order.
If the accuser is your spouse or co-parent and the judge grants their request, the order could strip you of your child custody or visitation rights. Depending on the terms of the order, you might not see your children for several years.
Orders of Protection in Arizona
In Arizona, the Order of Protection process often begins with a request for an Emergency Order of Protection. This is a short-term order meant to give the accuser immediate legal protection from their alleged abuser. It is in effect only until the close of the next day of judicial business, though the judge can continue the order if necessary. Usually, these orders last until a court hearing can be held on whether to issue a longer-term Order of Protection.
The person whose rights would be affected by an Order of Protection has the right to attend the hearing. Both they and their accuser can make their case over whether the accuser is in immediate danger of threat or abuse. The judge will then decide whether or not to issue the order. If an order is issued, it could contain several restraints on the other person’s liberties. One of them could grant sole physical and legal child custody to the accusing parent. The other parent may not even get visitation time with the children if the judge decides the parent poses a threat to them.
As a parent, you have a lot at stake when charged with domestic violence. On the criminal side, you could lose your freedom and other rights. On the civil court side, you could be separated from your children indefinitely.