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Phoenix AZ Family Law Blog

Friday, June 9, 2017

When Mommy Threatens the Children

Q: What happens if a parent threatens the safety of their child?

Every night across America parents tell their children to go to sleep. Some might add an acceptable reason like they have to get up early or have a big day tomorrow. Others might use an exasperated tone if the kids are too slow to comply. But when a Scottsdale single mom reportedly told her two girls to "go to sleep so that she could kill them both and so the three of them could be in heaven together without their father", that was a big red flag that parenting time might need to be modified. And fast.

In Arizona, “parenting time” refers to the physical custody or placement of children when their parents are not living together. In addition to providing things like food clothing, housing, and more, routine decisions about the child’s care are handled unilaterally during parenting time. Both parenting time and “legal decision-making” – – a parent’s ability to make major decisions on a child’s behalf such as education, healthcare, religion and more – – are generally granted equally to both parents unless doing so would not be in the best interest of the children. A history of domestic violence or child abuse is one of many factors courts consider when determining what is in the best interest of the children.

What happens if a parent wants to change the current parenting time arrangement?

If there is time and a reason the arrangement should be changed, parents may petition the court for a modification of legal decision-making or parenting time orders. One example may be when a parent wants to coach their child’s team and consequently will need more time with the child to do so. Sometimes, though there is little time because an emergency that will result in immediate, irreparable physical or emotional harm to the children arises. When faced with a domestic violence or child abuse emergency, contact the police and then a family law attorney experienced with domestic violence for legal help.

The single mom above allegedly repeatedly stabbed her daughters’ bedroom wall until the kitchen knife fell behind the bed, and then continued to threaten them with a metal rod demanding information about their father's girlfriend. She also reportedly banged her head repeatedly against the wall, kicked the girls off the bed, and slapped one in the head in the same incident.

The police were notified, investigated, and arrested the woman who reportedly had "four previous domestic violence conditions" with three being in the last few months. Now, the Department of Child Safety is allegedly investigating. The mother was "charged with multiple counts of disorderly conduct, threatening, and misdemeanor domestic violence for permitting life and health of the minor to be imperiled by abuse".

If you need assistance establishing or modifying child custody or visitation orders involving your children, Cohen Family Law can help you. Call us at 602-714-8898 for a free consultation. From our offices in Phoenix, we've been helping Arizona families in all aspects of family law since 1982.


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