The Wednesday ruling says a father initially convicted of "inflicting excessive corporal punishment" for spanking his child in 2012 was instead displaying "a reasonable use of force."
"We find that the Family Court's finding of neglect was not supported by a preponderance of the credible evidence," the four-judge panel unanimously ruled.
"The father's open-handed spanking of the child as a form of discipline after he heard the child curse at an adult was a reasonable use of force and, under the circumstances presented here, did not constitute excessive corporal punishment."
The New York Daily news spoke with area parents about the decision, who were split on its implications.
"A father has to educate his son, has to spank a little to protect his kids from growing up wrong," said Kiko Kabashi, a father of two. "Some kids, if you don't smack them a little, they won't learn any respect."
New mom Jennifer Smith disagreed, saying "[spanking]'s a little barbaric at this point. There's so many other ways of discipline."
Local courts around the country have consistently ruled that mild spanking does not constitute child abuse, with Florida recognizing a single spank as reasonable parenting, and separate cases in California and Minnesota allowing wooden spoons or paddles to be used to discipline children.