Abuse and Neglect – Excessive Corporal Punishment

Abuse and Neglect – Excessive Corporal Punishment

Morris County DYFS Lawyers in NJ: What are my rights?

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There is a fine line between appropriate discipline of a child and excessive corporal punishment. However, no one wants the State of New Jersey telling them how to discipline their own kids. If DCP&P is investigating an allegation of child abuse or neglect regarding physical abuse for excessive corporal punishment, it is imperative that you contact an experienced DYFS attorney to combat these allegations and protect your rights. Our experienced DCP&P defense lawyers have been involved in the system for many years. In fact, we have several former prosecutors on staff who used to prosecute title 9 violations and endangering the welfare of a child criminal charges for the State of NJ. Now, they use their expertise and experience to defend our clients facing similar allegations. In addition, Brent DiMarco, before joining the law firm to run the DCP&P defense department for the firm, worked for two of the largest DYFS defense firms in the State of NJ handling all aspects of child abuse and neglect litigation including handling many fact-finding and termination hearings as well as administrative hearings in order to reunite parents with their children as soon as possible.

If you or a loved one is involved in a DYFS case and needs help, contact our offices anytime for immediate assistance at (908)-356-6900. We have multiple office locations throughout New Jersey including in Morristown, Hackensack, and Newark and our experienced attorneys will always provide you with a free initial consultation regarding your case.

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“I hired the firm after a horrible run in with DCFS. I hired him and he truly is the reason I came out of this mess intact. He took care of all of my concerns, explained everything regarding my case that I did not understand and he put my anxiety and nerves at ease. He was calm, cordial, professional but at the same time made me feel like a friend. I could not be more pleased with the results of my now CLOSED case. For anyone looking for an attorney to handle their case I highly recommend hiring this law firm.”

Abuse and Neglect: What constitutes excessive corporal punishment?

FAQ: Can I spank my child?

Yes, but that doesn’t mean you should.

One kind of child abuse in the state of New Jersey is excessive corporal punishment. The key word is “excessive.” In other words, corporal punishment, or physical discipline, is technically legal as long as it is not “too much.” However, Title 9 does not set forth a definition of what specifically constitutes “excessive” corporal punishment and if DCP&P alleges that you abused your child by utilizing excessive physical discipline, the court is left to decide whether or not you crossed the line. And although parents can legally use physical discipline, opponents of corporal punishment point to studies that show lack of efficacy and the psychological, detrimental effects caused by physical discipline. The bottom line is that a parent’s choices are individual and personal and if you chose to physically discipline your child, you are acting within your parental rights but that does not necessarily make it the “right” thing to do.

The New Jersey Superior Court, Appellate Division, set forth factors to be considered by trial courts when deciding if a parent went too far in physically disciplining a child. N.J. Div. of Youth and Family Servs. v. K.A., 413 N.J. Super. 504 (App. Div. 2010). Because each case is its own and is fact-sensitive, the court will assess the totality of the circumstances associated with the physical discipline to determine if, in fact, the punishment was excessive. The court will consider why the parent disciplined the child, the proportionality of the punishment to the reason that caused the parent to discipline the child, and whether or not the corporal punishment was only an isolated incident. In other words, the court will determine whether or not “the punishment fit the crime.” For example, the court will consider if the child was physically disciplined as a result of breaking a law, cheating on a school test, or maybe grabbing one-too-many cookies from the cookie jar. The court will also consider whether or not the parent hits the child all of the time or if it was it a one-time occurrence.

In addition, the court will factor in where on the child’s body the parent hit the child, if the parent used an object such as a belt, switch, wooden spoon, a closed fist, or an open hand and how many times the parent hit the child. For example, there is a stark difference between repeatedly punching a child in the face with a closed fist versus one slap with an open palm on the child’s rear end. Another factor is whether or not the physical punishment caused any marks, cuts, or bruises and whether or not any injuries required medical attention. Again, there is no bright line rule establishing what form of or how much physical discipline is too much.

Excessive Corporal Punishment Child Abuse Allegations? Contact Us Today

If DCP&P accuses you of utilizing excessive corporal punishment, you should consult with a DCP&P defense attorney who is familiar with child abuse and neglect statutes and case law regarding physical discipline. Our attorneys represent clients throughout Morris County including in Dover, Denville, Mount Olive, and Parsippany. Our DYFS lawyers are available immediately to assist you at (908)-356-6900.

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