Q: Does an abused spouse have to start divorce proceedings to get help from the courts?
A: No. If you have been abused, you can get a restraining order - or “order of protection” - from any court if either you or your children are in immediate physical danger. The order may limit your spouse from entering your home or from contacting you (ARS §13-3602). See the appendix for legal resources in your community.
Q: What kinds of protection can an abused spouse receive from a court while a divorce is pending?
A: When a petition for divorce (or “dissolution”) is ﬁled, the court will automatically issue an order limiting each party from:
- Harassing, disturbing the peace of or committing an assault on them or the children.
- Transferring, concealing, or selling community property.
- Removing any child to another city or state without the prior written agreement of the spouse or permission of the court (ARS §25-315).
Q: Can an abused person press criminal charges against the offending partner?
A: Yes. Domestic violence is a crime. If you are abused, immediately call the police or prosecuting attorney’s ofﬁce. Get hospital treatment and keep records of injuries, names of witnesses, police ofﬁcers and medical attendants. Get copies of medical reports. A temporary restraining order may be requested to keep your partner away from your home and work (ARS §§13-3601,3602).
Q: Can an abused person bring an action for personal injuries against the offending partner?
A: Yes, but to do so, a civil action must be started. You should see an attorney to discuss the facts, which must be proven, and the damages or other remedies you could obtain.
Laws may have changed since the last time this article was updated. The current and most up-to-date laws can be accessed here.