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Is Domestic Violence defined differently for family court vs. criminal court?

Phoenix, AZ |

An incident occurred, there were no witnesses other than one of our sons, I reported it, & because they could not reach him by phone, I did not have visible injuries, & we did not want to have my son testify in court, there were no charges filed -- but since there was a history, they recommended that an OOP be put in place. He contested the OOP, & @ that hearing, the commissioner determined that "an act of domestic violence occurred" & upheld the OOP. Now what. The OOP is only good for a year, & history has shown that with continued contact, I get hurt in front of my kids. I only started reporting recently because of fear. IMHO the anger management courses might help him. Do I go back to the police, say the judge proved it occurred [or does DV have diff definitions?]?

Attorney Answers 2


  1. There are different burdens of proof for criminal matters vs Order of Protection matters. Criminal matters have the highest burden of proof (beyond a reasonable doubt). So, law enforcement must have thought they did not have enough (especially without your son's cooperation) to pursue a criminal matter and the Court's findings during the OOP hearing will not change that. Also, after your current Order of Protection expires, you can go and obtain another one. You could do that every year, if you have to, to feel safe. There is no limit on how many Orders of Protection you can obtain, so long as the Judge finds a basis for one each time.

    I suggest that you seek the assistance of an experienced family law attorney to help you with your family law matter. Many law firms, including the Sampair Group, offer free initial consultations. Good luck! Brandy Ramsay, Esq. The Sampair Group, PLLC Offices Valley-Wide: Glendale/Arrowhead: 17235 N. 75th Avenue, Suite E-100, Glendale, AZ 85308 Surprise: 15270 West Brookside Lane, Suite 121 Surprise, AZ 85374 Mesa: 1830 S. Alma School #114, Mesa, AZ West Valley: 623.218.1000 East Valley: 480.636.1333 IF YOU FOUND THIS ANSWER "HELPFUL" or "THE BEST ANSWER," PLEASE MARK IT SO, AS AVVO AWARDS THE ATTORNEY POINTS. All attorneys providing answers on this site are donating their time and not financially compensated.


  2. You should meet with an family law attorney to determine what relief is available to you in your case. For example, if you are seeking a criminal conviction the OOP will be of very little use in proving that domestic violence occurred. However, if you are seeking to have your ex-spouse/spouse's parenting time be supervised and/or limited due to the fact that "continued contact" results in you getting "hurt in front of your children" relief through the family court may be available to you. The family court can enter standing orders that define when and where the parenting time exchanges will occur to promote safety (e.g. they may be ordered to occur at a police station or a public place) , and can award sole legal decision making authority in situations where joint legal decision making will place the other parent or children in danger. In sum, there is relief available in the family court when domestic violence has occurred that is not available in the criminal courts. Therefore, you should meet with an attorney to determine what protections are available to you

    Please be advised that the answer above is general in nature and should not be construed as legal advice because not enough facts are known. It is your responsibility to retain a lawyer to analyze the facts specific to your particular situation in order to give you specific advice. Specific answers will require cognizance of all pertinent facts about your case. Any answers offered on Avvo are of a general nature only, and are not meant to create an attorney-client relationship.

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