Indicted by a Texas grand jury in September on charges of child abuse for using a tree branch to discipline his son, Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson made the issue of corporal punishment and a parent’s right to discipline a national conversation. The question: "Can the use of corporal punishment have an adverse effect on child custody?" may have also crossed your mind.Corporal Punishment and Illinois Best Interests of the Child Illinois Courts make an award of child custody based on the best interests of the child. There are a number of different factors the Court must consider when making a custody determination. One factor is “the physical violence or threat of physical violence by the child’s potential custodian, whether directed against the children or directed against another person.” So where does corporal punishment fall? Is it physical violence that can tilt the balance of what custody placement is in the child’s best interest against the parent who utilizes it? Or is corporal punishment simply a right of the parent that cannot be used as evidence of a parent’s use of physical violence? Unfortunately, Illinois law is unclear on the issue. A parent can be charged with Illinois child abuse if he or she “inflicts excessive corporal punishment” upon the child. But the law does not elaborate on what constitutes “excessive” corporal punishment. Is it two spanks, or 10? Can the parent use an object, like a whip, belt, or even a shoe to discipline? Or is anything other than an open hand considered excessive? Is it only excessive if the punishment inflicted leaves welts or other marks that last longer than an hour? The Illinois Courts offer a little guidance, consistently ruling that a parent’s right to discipline his or her child is “limited by a standard of reasonableness.” But nowhere in any of the decisions does the Court elaborate on what is and is not reasonable punishment. In addition, much of the commentary following Adrian Peterson’s indictment shows that what is considered reasonable varies among age, gender, socioeconomic status and even geography. This case is an example of how the law can sometimes fail to provide a clear-cut answer. In those cases, you need an experienced child custody attorney representing you. Resolution of this issue in your favor – whether you are arguing for or against the issue of reasonableness – depends heavily on your child custody attorney’s ability to make the Judge understand your point of view, and to persuade the Judge that being granted custody of your child is in his or her best interests. Nicholas W. Richardson has more than a decade’s worth of experience doing just that, and he will work tirelessly to for time with your child. Palatine Child Custody Attorney Even when the relationship is over and the divorce finalized, changing circumstances mean child custody may need to be revisited. If you are contemplating a divorce with children, or if you need a custody modification, you need an experienced family law attorney who understands the need to get the best possible outcome for your child, and can help you get it. Contact Palatine child custody attorney Nicholas W. Richardson today to schedule a consultation.
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