Father and Mother were divorced in 2003 and were granted joint custody of their son, Z. In January 2008, Mother sought an order of protection against Father covering her house, her mother’s house, and Z’s school, claiming that Father, a police officer, had committed domestic violence against her, and had intimidated Z to a point where he left a suicide note. After an evidentiary hearing, the family court found sufficient evidence to support an order protecting Mother. The court found, however, evidence was insufficient to cover Z in the order, and thus removed Z’s school from coverage. Father appealed, arguing that the order was wrongly entered because only Mother’s side of the story “had been heard,” to which the court responded that the family court was entitled to resolve conflict in evidence. The court determined that Mother’s account was more convincing, and thus rejected Father’s argument. Father also argued that because of the protective order, he must check his service weapon at the end of every shift and asked for it again at the beginning of every shift. As a result, he could not perform security work in off-duty hours. The court did not consider the argument because Father failed to cite any legal authority in support of a need for him to perform off-duty security work. Finally, Father argued that the protective order would diminish his right to participate decision-making about Z. The court found the argument unconvincing because father was free to reach Mother via e-mail or phone. Accordingly, the court affirmed the family court’s grant of a protective order covering Mother.
Women and Justice: Jurisdiction
The family court abused its discretion when awarding joint custody without considering evidence of domestic violence, and when awarding Father parenting time when there was a valid order protecting the child from Father.
In May of 1990, Piatt represented clients A and B in their respective domestic relations actions. During his representation of client A, Piatt repeatedly asked her questions such as whether she had masturbated at the age of fourteen, and whether she had ever had sexual relationship without emotional involvement. He also made comments about the length of client A’s skirt and how “delicious” she looked. Piatt later told client A during a meeting that if she did not respond to his sexual advances, he would be forced to charge her a large sum of money for continued representation. Piatt threatened client B in substantially the same way.
Plaintiff Ford’s supervisor, Karl Braun, began to sexually harass Ford at a dinner on April 3, 1980, where Braun told Ford that she would regret it if she didn’t sleep with him. At a company picnic a month later, Braun said to Ford: “I want to fuck you, Leta,” and restrained her in a chokehold, from which Ford eventually escaped. Despite Ford having reported the harassment to regional management later than month and to headquarters in November, 1980, no action was taken until Braun’s employment was terminated in October, 1981, almost a year and a half after plaintiff’s original complaints. During this period Braun’s continuing threats led to Ford developing symptoms of emotional stress such as high blood pressure and chest pains.
The appellate court affirmed a family court’s grant of sole custody to the mother of three minor children. According to Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 25-403.03, a significant history of domestic violence is sufficient to render joint custody inappropriate. In addition, Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 25-403.03.D further states, “there is a rebuttable presumption that an award of custody to the parent who committed the act of domestic violence is contrary to the child’s best interests.”