Domestic Violence – Orders of Protection
Orders of Protection are commonly known as restraining orders or protective orders. An Order of Protection can be granted by a municipal court, a justice court or the Superior Court. However, if you already have an action pending in Superior Court for custody or dissolution of marriage, you are required to seek an Order of Protection from the Superior Court. There is no cost to obtain an Order of Protection in any court.
An Order of Protection is designed to keep a victim of domestic violence safe from his or her perpetrator. The Order will contain language which states what locations are protected (address of home, work, school), the manner of communication, if any, that is permitted between the perpetrator and the victim, and other language to ensure the protection of the victim of domestic violence.
In order to obtain an Order of Protection, you must meet the following criteria:
- The defendant may commit, or has committed, an act of domestic violence within the past year, or longer in some circumstance. The definition of “domestic violence” is governed by 25 different criminal statutes, under A.R.S. § 13-3601.
- There is also what is referred to as the “relationship test,” which includes various relationships such as you either live with the defendant, lived previously with the defendant, have a child in common with the defendant, blood relation, or a romantic relationship. See A.R.S. § 13-3601.
Orders of Protection sometimes will include a child or children of the parties. Although an Order of Protection should not be used to prevent the other parent from having access to the child, unless that parent has committed an act of domestic violence against the child or directly in the child’s presence, they can be used in certain circumstances.
An Order of Protection can grant the victim of domestic violence exclusive use and possession of a residence that is shared with the defendant/perpetrator. The defendant, once served, is permitted to return to the residence only on one occasion to retrieve necessary belongings, but he or she must be accompanied by law enforcement to do so, in order to protect the safety of the victim.
An Order of Protection is only valid and enforceable by law enforcement once it is personally served upon the defendant. Our attorneys can assist you in having your Order of Protection served by a lawful process server or an appropriate law enforcement agency.
Once served, the defendant/perpetrator has the option to request one hearing. The request must be made to the same court that issued the Order of Protection and the request must be made in writing. The court must set a hearing within 10 days of the request or shorter depending on whether a child or residence is listed on the Order.
If a person violates an Order of Protection, the person is subject to arrest and can be prosecuted for interference with judicial proceedings. Orders of Protection are effective for one year after service upon the defendant.
Orders of Protection granted in other states are given the same effect in Arizona as an Order of Protection issued by a court of this state.
Domestic Violence/Order of Protection Frequently Asked Questions
What do you need to know as a victim?
What if you are a victim of domestic violence? There are certain things you need to know. This is a very serious issue. We take this issue very seriously, and so do judges. The first, and most important thing you need to do is get yourself and your children safe. Get to a safe place. Go to a shelter, if you need to. Find a place where you can regain your strength and make sure you are not in harm’s way.
How do you protect yourself?
After you have found a safe harbor for yourself and your children, the next thing you need to consider is getting an order of protection. You can go down to the court and get one, or hire an attorney that can help you. But that’s important. You really need to get that. And you also need to start filing either your divorce action or move forward with a paternity action as well, to protect you and your children.
Who can be affected?
Unfortunately, domestic violence is a common occurrence here in the United States and it spans across all walks of life. Your first priority if you are a victim of domestic violence is to ensure the security and safety of you and your children.
What steps should a victim take?
A victim needs to develop a safety plan. That might include filing a police report, making arrangements to stay with family or friends, obtaining an order of protection, and those sorts of things.
What action should you take in an extreme situations?
In some extreme situations, a victim may even need to seek out the assistance of a domestic violence shelter, such as the Sojourner Center (sojournercenter.org).
What are the effects/How do you rebuild your life after violence?
Almost immediately, a victim needs to start putting the pieces of their life back together, regaining some self-confidence and rebuilding their children’s self-confidence, as well. Some victims don’t even remember what types of clothes they like to wear, and they don’t even remember a time when they had a peaceful dinner. Most victims forget how to socialize and they have lost touch with their children out of fear of angering the abuser. Some have neglected their own personal hygiene.
What is some advice for victims?
Each situation is different. Some situations involve drug abuse, child abuse, and other sorts of very awful things, so my advise to anyone who has been a victim of domestic violence is to seek counseling for you and your children.
What should you do after the dust settles?
Once the dust settles a bit, I would highly recommend seeking out the services of a competent attorney, one who specializes in domestic violence cases. At that point you can move forward with your paternity or divorce action, can get an order of protection if you haven’t gotten one already, and have that support system you need and the court orders you need to move on with your life.
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