Appeals Court Allows Father to Spank His Son

Child Protective Services is extremely aggressive on Long Island with regard to situations involving parents who use corporal punishment on their children. In a recent case, an appeals court found with regard to a Suffolk County father who spanked his son, that his actions were not inappropriate and this did not constitute child neglect.

The Spanking

In October of 2012, a father spanked his 8 year old son when he cursed at an adult during a party at a friend’s home. The father was reported to Child Protective Services. In March of 2013, in a proceeding in the Family Court of Suffolk County a ruling was made against the father finding he had neglected his child. The Department of Social Services claimed he had spanked his child with an open hand at the party. When they returned home from the party, they claimed he struck his son on the legs, arms and buttocks with a belt.

Family Court Proceedings

During the Family Court proceeding the father admitted he had spanked his son at the party. He denied he struck his son with a belt when they returned home. The father appealed the ruling of the Suffolk County Family Court to the Appellate Division of the Second Department (an Appeals Court located in Brooklyn).

Appeals Court

The Appeals Court held “the father’s open handed spanking of the child as a form of discipline after he heard the child curse at an adult was a reasonable use of force and, under the circumstances presented here, did not constitute excessive corporal punishment.”

As a result of the Appeals Court ruling, the original neglect decision by the Family Court was dismissed. The evidence presented in Family Court, at a fact finding hearing, was not sufficient to prove the son had been struck by the father with a belt.


Child Protective Services on Long Island is extremely aggressive with regard to investigating and prosecuting parents who appropriately discipline their children with spankings when the circumstances require it.

Most parents assume when they are investigated by Child Protective Services they have to cooperate. This isn’t true. The investigators for Child Protective Services are looking for evidence usually to convict the parent of child abuse and/or child neglect, not to find the incident did not take place. The best route to take when contacted by Child Protective Services is to immediately contact an attorney experienced in handling child abuse and child neglect in handling investigations by Child Protective Services

About Elliot S. Schlissel

Elliot S. Schlissel, Esq. has spent more that 45 years representing individuals in matrimonial and family law cases.