By Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. a NJ Domestic Violence Attorney

New Jersey law defines child abuse

A child less than 18 years of age whose…physical, mental, or emotional condition has been impaired or is in imminent danger of becoming impaired as the result of the failure of his parent or guardian, to exercise a minimum degree of care…in providing the child with proper supervision or guardianship, by unreasonably inflicting or allowing to be inflicted harm, or substantial risk thereof, including the infliction of excessive corporal punishment can be found guilty of child abuse.
The trial court must find the child was abused or neglected by a preponderance of the evidence at a fact finding hearing.

Although the statute does not define “excessive corporal punishment”, a trial judge is not without guidance to determine the meaning of this term. The statute provides the classes of injuries that amount to abuse or neglect under this statute. They include, in part:

1. Child death;
2. Head injuries;
3. Internal injuries;
4. Burns;
5. Poison or noxious substances;
6. Wounds;
7. Bone fractures;
8. Substantial risk of physical injury or environment injurious to health and welfare;
9. Cuts, bruises, abrasions, welts or oral injuries;
10. Human bites;
11. Sprains or dislocations;
12. Mental or emotional impairment; and
13. Risk of harm due to substance abuse by the parent/caregiver or the child.

The law does not prohibit the use of corporal punishment. The statute prohibits the infliction of excessive corporal punishment. The general proposition is that a parent may inflict moderate correction such as is reasonable under the circumstances of a case. We evaluate a claim of abuse by the harm suffered by the child not the mental state of her mother.

Contact me personally today to discuss your New Jersey domestic violence matter. I am easy to talk to, very approachable and can offer you practical, legal ways to handle your concerns. You can reach me toll free at (855) 376-5291 or e-mail me at