Can my ex-wife’s boyfriend spank my children?

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Can my ex-wife’s boyfriend spank my children?

I have primary custody of my 2 boys, ages 7 and 5. Their mother sees them every other weekend rest of the time they are with me. I recently found out that her new boyfriend has been spanking my children and although it is not defined in our divorce decree that no corporal punishment would be used, we had an understanding between us that significant others would not be allowed to physically punish the children. I let both of them know that i was not comfortable with this type of behavior happening and that if a spanking was deserved, that my ex-wife should be the one doing it since she is the parent. The boyfriend said I do it to my son so I can do it to hers also.

Asked on January 29, 2013 under Family Law, Missouri

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

While not has accepted as it once was, it is legal and not abuse if it is not violate any specific law prohibiting the endangerment children (or rises to the level of a criminal act as abuse). As a generaral rule, endangering children is administering corporal punishment or other physical discipline (i.e. restraining a child in a cruel manner or for a prolonged period) if the treatment in question is excessive under the circumstances and creates a substantial risk of serious physical harm to the child. It is a criminal act to administer corporal punishment or other physical discipline, if it is excessive under the circumstances and creates a substantial risk of serious physical/emotional harm to the child. Based on your facts, it's not clear that this is a police/child services matter. However, since this issue is not addressed in your diorce decree, you now may want to go to court and have a judge in effect grant a "no spank zone" at home. In other words, that is prohibit corporal punishment as a condition of continued custody. At this point, a consultation with an experienced family law attoreny in your area is a good idea.

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