Unfortunately, substance abuse is a widespread issue in the United States. More often than not, drug and alcohol use forms the key backbone of many divorce cases. If you suspect your spouse of substance abuse and want a divorce, it is vital that you address this issue before it posses a threat to your children. Learn about court ordered drug testing in child custody cases below. Under normal circumstances, the court will not require drug and alcohol testing. In order to get such tests, you must request it. But keep in mind that the court will grant your request only if you can provide evidence of your spouse's substance abuse problem. However, if your spouse holds a history of alcohol-related criminal charges or illegal drug use, then that meets the burden of proof, constituting a "preponderance of the evidence".

How Does the Court Approach Drug and Alcohol Testing?

Courts must administer drug and alcohol testing in the least intrusive method possible. This typically means they can only request urine samples. Unfortunately, even though hair follicle testing is more accurate than urine tests, the court still cannot order this method of testing. Also, even if your spouse does yield a positive result on their court ordered drug testing, then that doesn't automatically translate against them when the court decides child custody. Furthermore, these test results cannot be used against your spouse beyond the family law proceedings.

Best Interests of the Child

When determining child custody, the court will always act in the best interests of the child. If your spouse holds a documented history of criminal alcohol activity or illegal substance abuse, then the court can demand drug and alcohol testing. This is because substance abuse can endanger your child's best interests.

Proof of Substance Abuse

To obtain court ordered drug testing in child custody cases, the court can also require "independent corroboration" of a parent's drug and alcohol use. This often includes documented reports from:
  • law enforcement,
  • probation departments,
  • substance abuse services,
  • medical facilities,
  • social welfare agencies, and
  • other courts.
If such documentation of your spouse's drug and alcohol use does not exist, then you can file a court declaration concerning their substance abuse. If there are any third-party witnesses to your spouse's drug and alcohol abuse, then consider filing their statements along with your declaration. Third-party witnesses can include friends, extended family, neighbors, teachers, co-workers, or even strangers.

Requesting Court Ordered Drug Testing

Keep in mind that if you request the court to administer drug and alcohol testing to your spouse, then they will also require that you undergo testing as well. In fact, the court will decree that both you and your spouse share the costs associated with testing. This can be an expensive burden when considering other costs associated with your divorce. When submitting your declaration to the court, you must detail every incident of your spouse's drug and alcohol abuse that you or someone else has witnessed. Simply citing the apparent presence of substance abuse is not considered evidence. Therefore, changes in your spouse's appearance or behavior cannot be counted as evidence and used against them. All in all, the court will always acts towards the best interests of your child. Although drug or alcohol use may not be enough to restrict custody, the court generally finds the use — whether casual or rampant — of such abuse to serve against the child's well-being. The court will acknowledge the fact that substance abuse most often leads to bad parenting decisions and worse.

Learn More About Court Ordered Drug Testing in Child Custody Cases

Does your spouse have a problem with drug or alcohol abuse? Consult a Fresno divorce attorney as soon as possible to determine if you have grounds to seek court ordered drug testing. At the Law Office of Rick D. Banks, we can advise you as to how to approach court ordered drug testing in your child custody case. To schedule a no obligation consultation, call (559)222-4891.
Categories: Child Custody