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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Family Law
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My daughter who is 7 years old told me that her step father

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My daughter who is 7 years old told me that her step father spanked her and hurt her. What should I do if anything?? I live in Virginia and have joint custody. However we do not live in the same county of Virginia.
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 7 years ago.
Spanking is something that is very borderline with abuse cases, as a parent does have rights to discipline their child and there is a fine line between spanking for discipline and abuse. The biggest problem is that the proper report of this would be to Child Protection and once you get them involved they can make not just his life miserable, but yours as well and will investigate both parents and make both of you jump through hoops and will become very frustrating for you. So child protection should be your absolute last resort.

If there are no marks/bruises or injury, you need to first discuss the matter with her father and try to resolve the issue with him and with explanation to your daughter as well. If the issues continue, then you would go back to the court that issued the order and try to get the court to modify the visitation, but they may insist on getting child protection involved as well to make a determination as to whether or not the conduct is abuse.

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Edited by PaulMJD on 11/1/2009 at 4:39 PM EST
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Customer: replied 7 years ago.
I am her real Father..not him.....he is her step/dad not her father and he is the one doing it...and he is not family.
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 7 years ago.
Sorry for the misunderstanding. Then this is something you can go to court over and seek a protective order from the court to prevent him from being around her, but again if the mom comes up and states she allowed him the right to discipline her, this is going to be an argument for the court to determine. Still there is a fine line between abuse and discipline and if the biological parent gave the step parent permission to discipline these matters become highly contentious in court and are based upon the individual facts and frequency of the discipline.
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Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Should i still report this to child servies are just file a protective order?
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 7 years ago.
You would likely do better going to court seeking the protective order and getting the court to order him to no longer discipline him. I am always hesitant to get child protection involved unless there are actual injuries because they make things into such frustrating ordeals with their process.

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