Will I Lose Custody if I Spanked My Kids During the Marriage

There are many different types of parenting styles in North Carolina. Some parents are much stricter than others, and these individuals may use some form of physical punishment to guide their children toward the right path. But what happens if you and your spouse get divorced? Will your spouse attempt to use your past history of spanking against you? Is it even legal to spank a child in North Carolina, and what are the chances of you losing custody due to your actions? Let's find out:

Is Spanking a Child Illegal in North Carolina?

First, let's answer the most pressing question: Is spanking a child even legal in North Carolina? For the most part, the answer is yes. Corporal punishment is an accepted form of discipline in the Tar Heel State, and parents are given considerable freedom regarding how they choose to discipline their children. 

Of course, there are limitations. A parent who becomes too excessive with their punishments can easily stray into the territory of child abuse. The line between discipline and abuse is not always clear, and courts essentially use their common sense while referring to a few basic guidelines:

  • Purposely inflicting injury is illegal (permanent, chronic injuries, that is)
  • Cruel and unusual punishment is always illegal
  • Any punishment that is sexual in nature
  • Any kind of emotional abuse causes anxiety, depression, or suicidal thoughts

The two key points to remember are that your punishment cannot cause permanent injury and cannot cause emotional damage to your child. 

Can I Lose Custody for Spanking My Child?

While you may think your disciplinary methods are perfectly acceptable, your former spouse might not feel the same. This can lead to significant disputes during custody battles, as your former spouse might desperately attempt to stop your child from being disciplined any further. The obvious course of action for these spouses is to stop you from spending meaningful amounts of time with your children after the divorce.

Unfortunately, spouses tend to exaggerate specific marriage details or even fabricate incidents entirely. They may accuse you of beating your child in an abusive manner when you provided just a few spanks in reality. This can lead to a "he said, she said" situation, and Child Protective Services may even launch an investigation to get to the bottom of the issue. You must hire a qualified family law attorney who can defend you against these accusations in an efficient manner. 

The Burden of Proof

It is also worth mentioning that if your spouse is accusing you of abusing your child during the marriage, they have to contend with the burden of proof. The court will not automatically believe your spouse just because they are hurling baseless accusations at you. They still need to prove that this occurred, which is essentially impossible if the alleged abuse never happened in the first place. 

With the help of your lawyer, you can prove that although the spanking did occur, it was done in a reasonable manner and without any permanent physical or emotional damage. This is a much better option than claiming that the spanking never occurred in the first place, as lying to the court will only cause you to sink down to your spouse's level. 

For example, you could say that the spanking was necessary because your child misbehaved terribly. Perhaps they played with matches and started a fire. Maybe they assaulted another child or injured an innocent animal. Whatever the case may be, providing the court with a valid reason for the abuse can help your case. You can then show that the child is perfectly fine physically and emotionally and that the spanking did not cause any permanent issues. 

Where Can I Find a Qualified Divorce Attorney in North Carolina?

If you have been searching for a qualified, experienced divorce attorney in North Carolina, look no further than Arnold & Smith, PLLC. We know that parents often disagree over what might be the best way to raise their children. Sometimes, these parenting disputes are the very catalyst for divorces. The truth is that as long as you stay on the right side of the law, there is no "right answer" regarding raising children. There is also no reason you should lose your rights as a parent simply because you spanked your children during the marriage. Book your consultation with us today, and we can guide you toward a positive outcome in a confident, efficient manner.