In Savord v. Morton, the Arizona Court of Appeals vacated the family court’s decision and quashed an order of protection and a Notice to Sheriff of Positive Brady Indicator (“Notice of PBI”).
The Mother in this case sought an order of protection where she alleged that the parties’ child was being sexually abused by a step-sibling at Father’s home. The family court found reasonable cause to believe an act of domestic violence occurred or might occur and granted the order of protection which prohibited contact between the parties’ child and Father (and the step-sibling).
Father requested an evidentiary hearing to contest the order of protection. At that trial, Mother’s attorney asked her if she felt harassed or intimidated by Father. Father objected on the basis that Mother’s petition included no allegations of harassment or intimidation. The family court overruled the objection and allowed Mother to testify about specific instances where she felt harassed by Father.
The family court found insufficient evidence to support the original allegations of sexual abuse, but upheld the order of protection based on what the court perceived to be Father’s knowledge of aggressive behavior between the parties’ child and the step-sibling.
On appeal, Father argued that the family court erroneously granted and affirmed the order of protection.
The Court of Appeals held that courts cannot grant an order of protection without allegations of a statutorily enumerated offense. It explained that orders of protection have lasting legal and reputational effects.
The Court also held that, by overruling Father’s objection, the family court permitted Mother to testify toward matters outside of the petition and deprived Father of his due process right sufficient notice to adequately defend against Mother’s allegations.