Yesterday, the “smacking ban” was introduced in Wales. This means that the defence of “reasonable punishment” in Wales, can no longer be relied on and therefore, anyone who smacks a child in their care could be arrested by the Police and prosecuted for assault.
What is its impact on Family Law?
When a parent is investigated for an offence, or convicted for an offence against their child, social services are very likely to be involved and the Court will want to get to the bottom of what has happened in order to ensure the child’s safety.
If an allegation is made by one parent as to their child being smacked, if they are already in or about to embark on Private Law Children proceedings, this could be a trigger for what is known as a Fact-Finding Hearing. Whilst the standard of proof would be lower than that in the Criminal Court, a Fact-Finding hearing takes place to establish whether the incident happened or not. The introduction of the “smacking ban” and this change in law will need to be borne in mind when dealing with Children Act proceedings going forward.
It is sometimes the case that a party to Children Act proceedings could be ordered to attend on a parenting course. This may be of more assistance to a parent who has previously disciplined their child by “smacking” them, so that they could be educated about the change in the law as opposed to potentially finding themselves with a criminal record.
If you do have queries in relation to this change in law, we at Wendy Hopkins Family Law Practice are here to advise you further.
– Fay Jones, Solicitor