A Parent’s Right to Discipline: When It Goes Too Far

A Parent’s Right to Discipline: When It Goes Too FarForms of Discipline

Parents discipline children for many reasons. For many parents, discipline is often a matter of personal choice. Some parents believe spanking is an acceptable form of punishment. Others see it as child abuse. In the eyes of New Jersey law, corporal punishment—like spanking—lies in a gray area. Spanking isn’t strictly illegal in New Jersey. New Jersey parents have the right to discipline their children within a certain tolerance. But spanking and other forms of corporal punishment can be considered abuse under certain circumstances. Let’s take a look at the law on discipline.

What Does the Law Say?

New Jersey law recognizes excessive corporal punishment as a category of child abuse. Legally defined, cruelty to a child (a type of child abuse) is inflicting unnecessarily severe corporal punishment. There is no exact definition of excessive or unnecessarily severe. CPS and the courts determined these on a case-by-case basis because they are fact-specific.

When Discipline Is Abuse

New Jersey’s CPS agency (DCP&P, formerly DYFS) sees corporal punishment as child abuse if it is excessive or leaves marks or injuries. What is considered excessive is debated, which is why these types of cases are controversial. Questions like when does discipline go too far and what is unnecessarily severe punishment arise in family courts across the country. In reality, there is no definitive answer, which leaves many parents facing allegations unsure of how to defend themselves.

How to Respond to Allegations

It’s important to understand the New Jersey child abuse law and how it applies to your case. When facing allegations of child abuse for discipline, it’s crucial to be aware of all the facts. These cases are very fact-dependent. Every case is unique to its circumstances and deserves a thorough evaluation by a seasoned attorney.

If you are facing allegations of child abuse for spanking or some other kind of corporal punishment, an attorney can explain how the facts of your case can affect the outcome. A New Jersey child abuse defense attorney with experience working with the DCP&P (formerly the DYFS) will know how to challenge the agency’s assumptions and clear your name.

Fighting for your child and your family is stressful, but the knowledgeable attorneys at the Williams Law Group, LLC have the experience needed to defend your rights as a parent and protect your child’s best interests. Located in Short Hills, New Jersey, Williams Law Group, LLC provides compassionate and dedicated legal services to Union, Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Morris, Monmouth, and Middlesex counties, and the surrounding areas. Our knowledgeable attorneys handle divorce and family law, child custody, and child abuse/neglect cases. Call our office at (908) 810-1083, email us at info@awilliamslawgroup.com, or contact us through our confidential online form to schedule a consultation and ultimately get you connected with an experienced New Jersey divorce and child custody attorney.


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