When an Arizona court decides issues of custody and parenting time, it will take many factors into consideration, among them the criminal history of each parent. Sexual assault in particular is singled out. In 2016, Arizona joined the majority of states when it passed a law stripping parental rights from the father of a child conceived during his sexual assault of the mother. However, the law does not disqualify the convicted person from parental rights to other children, nor does it apply to convictions of any other crime against the mother.
Arizona takes a general view that a child’s best interests are promoted by having a relationship with both parents. Parental rights include child custody and visitation. Custody may be sole or joint. In determining the effect of a criminal conviction on custody rights, a court will evaluate the recentness of the criminal activity, the severity of the crimes and the identity of the victims and their relationship to the offender. Certain offenses, such as those involving domestic violence or illegal drugs, can work to disqualify the convicted parent from sole or even joint custody.
But when one parent is granted sole custody, the other has the right to a reasonable amount of visitation. Usually, this is accomplished by the parents cooperating on flexible parenting time, and a court can order a fixed visitation schedule where the parents cannot agree. In cases where a potential danger to the child’s physical, mental or moral well-being is perceived, Arizona courts favor limitation rather than termination of parental rights. A court may grant supervised visitation as a remedy, requiring that a designated professional be present. If a parent is incarcerated and prison visits are deemed adverse to the child’s best interests, “virtual visitation” by video chat may be considered.
If you are involved in a parenting dispute based on your own or your spouse’s criminal history, you should seek guidance from an experienced family law attorney. The Law Office of Phil Hineman, P.C. in Yuma provides knowledgeable assistance. Call me today at (928) 224-3230 or contact me online to schedule a consultation.