It is legal to spank your child in Utah?

It is legal to spank your child in Utah?

Utah law allows parents and guardians to use reasonable physical discipline on their child (for example, spankings). However a parent’s right to use physical discipline is not unlimited.

Determining whether discipline is “reasonable” is a fact-dependent analysis that takes into account various circumstances of a particular case. KY v. Div. of Child & Fam. Serv., 2010 UT App 335, 244 P.3d 399. Factors Utah courts use to determine what crosses the line from “reasonable” to “unreasonable” physical discipline includes things such as (1) did the act leave any bruises, contusions, or abrasions on the child, (2) did it involve unreasonably cruel punishment such as beating with a belt, paddle, hose, or other object, (3) the need for the use of corporal punishment, (4) the relationship between the need for discipline and the amount of punishment administered, (5) whether the punishment was administered in a good faith effort to maintain discipline or maliciously and sadistically for the purpose of causing harm, (6) whether the discipline was accompanied by verbal threats or verbal abuse, and (7) whether the incident was isolated or a step in an apparent progression of mistreatment. State ex. rel. L.P., 1999 UT App 157, 981 P.2d 848. A parent does not have to inflict serious injury on a child to cross the line separating reasonable discipline from child abuse. Bountiful City v. Baize, 2019 UT App 24. But mere spanking with an object – without more – does not constitute abuse unless accompanied by evidence of harm to a child. State ex. rel. K.T., 2017 UT 44, 424 P.3d 91.

All that being said, the question of whether it is legal to physically discipline a child is different from the question of whether it is good parenting to do so. That is a subject reasonable minds can (and do) disagree about. But overall family court judges and commissioners tend to be skeptical of corporal punishment and will commonly enter an order prohibiting it if either parent asks.

Are you being falsely accused of child abuse for spanking your child? Is your co-parent abusing your child? If so, give the family law attorneys at Wiser Law a call at 855-254-2600.

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