Expired Protection Orders In Arizona

In Arizona, expired orders of protection have ongoing collateral legal consequences. An order of protection is issued "for the purpose of restraining a person from committing an act included in domestic violence." A.R.S. 13-3602(A). In determining whether to issue an order of protection, the requesting party must advise a court whether a prior order of protection has been issued concerning "the conduct that is sought to be restrained." A.R.S. 13-3602(C)(5). Thus, the issuance of a prior, albeit expired, order of protection is a circumstance a court is entitled to consider in deciding whether to issue a subsequent order of protection. Additionally, when a court issues an order of protection, it is required to forward to the sheriff a copy of the order of protection and proof of service on the defendant for registration in a "central repository" so that its existence and validity can be "easily verified." A.R.S. 13-3602(L). The statute does not, however, direct the sheriff to remove expired orders of protection from the "central repository." An order of protection, even if expired, also has ongoing significance in a dispute over joint custody of a minor child. Section 25-403.03(A) (2008) prohibits a court from awarding joint custody if it finds "by a preponderance of the evidence that there has been a significant history of domestic violence." This statute goes on to instruct that in deciding whether a person has committed an act of domestic violence, a court should consider, among other matters, "findings from another court of competent jurisdiction." A.R.S. 25-403.03(C)(1). Further, the statute imposes a rebuttable presumption that it is not in a child's best interests to award custody to a parent who has committed "an act of domestic violence" against the other parent. A.R.S. 25-403.03(D). In turn, the statute defines an "act of domestic violence" as including "a pattern of behavior for which a court may issue an ex parte order to protect the other parent who is seeking child custody." A.R.S. 25-403.03(D)(3).