Spanking & Custody: Can you lose your children for spanking?

On behalf of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Child Custody on Thursday, May 29, 2014.

‘Spare the rod spoil the child’ sayeth Proverbs. This week there’s a debate in France to ban spanking. Can you spank without fear of losing child custody or it impacting time-sharing in Florida?

As Radio France Internationale reports, In France, lawmakers are behind a proposed amendment to a wide-ranging family law which is being debated in the French parliament.

One measure of the proposed bill states:

legal guardians cannot use corporal punishment or physical violence against children.

Spanking in Florida

In Florida you’re not supposed to hit your children. Florida has strong laws for the protection against domestic violence.

Domestic violence includes any assault, battery or any other offense resulting in physical injury of a family member by another family member.

However, parents have to discipline their children, and as the good book says, he who loves his child is careful to discipline him. In Florida, parents have a right to discipline their child in a reasonable manner.

A parent’s right to administer reasonable corporal punishment to discipline a child is not a crime when it does not result in harm to the child.

Harm, by the way, does not mean just bruises or welts for instance. Harm also means that the discipline is likely to result in physical injury, mental injury, or emotional injury. Even if you don’t physically harm a child, your actions could be criminal.

Florida’s parental privilege to use corporal discipline does not give absolute immunity either. Your run-of-the-mill spanking may be protected from charges of child abuse, but punching your child, pushing him onto the floor and kicking him is not.

So, is it open season on kids? Hardly. Guardians and judges are analyzing you, and you don’t want to start off your custody case explaining why you beat your kids. The excuse: “this fellow does what the bible says” will not score a lot of points in a courtroom.

Besides, some studies suggest that time-outs work just as well as spanking for immediate punishment, and that for long-term effectiveness, spanking decreases compliance. Worse, spanking may increase child aggression.

While there are some limited privileges for discipline, there are major risks to your custody case, your criminal defense case, and most importantly, to your children.

The front page of the Miami Herald is usually filled with horrible stories each week on child abuse. As a society, we are constantly searching for ways to protect children from abuse. Besides, the results of spanking may be counterproductive.

The RFI report on spanking in France can be read here.