If the court suspects one or both parents are using drugs, it can order a drug test as part of its child custody evaluation. It’s the judge’s goal to make decisions based on what’s in the best interests of the child when issuing a custody court order. And because drugs can adversely affect a parent’s ability to provide a safe and healthy home, drug testing may be applicable.
Types of Drug Testing
One or both parents may have to undergo drug testing during a custody case. The following are four types of drug tests:
- Urine – Urine is a common method for drug testing. Detection may be possible for a few days after taking the drug, depending the type of substance.
- Hair – Hair can be used to detect drugs over longer periods than urine. However, it’s more expensive than urine testing, and several environmental factors may affect the results.
- Saliva – Saliva tests are fairly accurate and provide less opportunity for tampering with the tests, but they have a smaller detection window than other tests.
The Impact of a Failed Drug Test on Custody
If a parent fails an ordered drug test, it could impact his or her custody rights. Judges will be leery of granting custody to a parent who uses drugs because it could:
- increase the risk of neglect when the parent is under the influence;
- expose the child to illegal drugs; and
- denote an unhealthy environment due to exposure to other illegal behavior that often accompanies drug abuse.
If a parent’s drug test comes back positive, the judge may restrict visitation or stipulate in the child custody court order that only supervised visits be allowed.
Drug Testing Stipulations in Custody Agreements
It is also up to the judge’s discretion to approve ordering regular drug tests in the child custody agreement. A failed test could mean loss of visitation privileges, and repeat offenses could bar visitation.
A parent who believes the other parent is abusing drugs can ask his or her lawyer to put this requirement in the child custody agreement or request the courts to do so in its child custody evaluation and court order.
If a parent has failed an ordered drug test and wants to fight to regain custody, he or she can file a motion with the courts to modify the order. The parent will have to present evidence that there has been a change in behavior and that he or she is no longer abusing drugs, e.g., completion of rehab programs or clean drug tests. If you are in this situation, speak to an attorney about how best to proceed with your case.
Consulting an Attorney about Your Custody Case
If you are in need of legal counsel regarding your custody case in the Plano area, contact family law firm Warren & Migliaccio. Contact us today for a free initial consultation at (888) 584-9614.