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How is drug testing used in child custody cases?

Not all child custody cases in Arizona involve drug testing. However, if the court has reasonable suspicion that you or your ex is abusing drugs, you may be asked to submit to a drug test.

Keep reading to learn more about drug testing in child custody cases, then contact Blanchette Law PLLC for personalized legal guidance.

drug testing in child custody cases

Situations where drug testing may be ordered

The most common scenario in which a judge might order drug testing is if one parent has accused the other of using drugs. 

In some instances, the court will order both parents to submit to drug testing. This is to prevent one parent from using false accusations to gain an upper hand in the custody dispute.

A judge may also independently order drug testing if they have any reason to believe that a parent could be abusing drugs. This might include if the parent shows signs of drug abuse, such as changes in behavior, or if the parent has a history of substance-related legal issues.

Types of drug testing used in custody cases

Urine samples are a commonly-used form of drug testing in child custody cases. A positive result typically indicates that the parent has used drugs within the last two to seven days.

The court may also order a hair follicle test, either in addition to the urine test or as an alternative. This type of testing can detect drug use for a much longer period — often up to 90 days.

It’s up to the judge to decide which type of test to use. Factors such as the parent’s documented history of substance abuse and the severity of the allegations may influence decisions about testing protocols.

How drug test results may influence custody decisions

In child custody cases, the judge’s role is to make decisions that are in the best interests of the child. If a parent tests positive for drugs, or if either parent has been convicted of a drug offense, this could be used as evidence to suggest that they’re not fit to care for their child.

The goal isn’t to punish the parent but rather to protect the child from harm. With that in mind, a positive drug test result doesn’t necessarily mean that the parent will be denied custody rights.

The judge will likely consider the type of substance the parent tests positive for — and its known effects on a person’s functioning — when determining the appropriate response. The parent’s criminal history is also an important factor.

For example, methamphetamine use is associated with aggression and impulsivity, which could make someone an unsafe parent, especially if the parent has several drug-related convictions on their record. 

On the other hand, marijuana use by a parent with a clean criminal record may not have the same effect. The keyword here is may – in all cases, the judge has the final say.

If the results suggest that the child isn’t safe in the care of the parent who tests positive, the judge may issue a supervised visitation order. This requires the parent to be monitored during visits with their child. However, it may not be a permanent arrangement. The judge may also order drug treatment and/or counseling to help the parent become fit to care for their child. 

Furthermore, in some cases, the parent may be able to challenge or “rebut” the court’s decision. When this option is available, the court will only consider arguments showing that the parent’s desired outcome is in the child’s best interests.

Learn more from our compassionate custody attorneys

Child custody cases are often stressful enough, but the added complexity of a drug test can make them even more difficult. You need someone in your corner to help you understand your rights and ensure that the court is making decisions based on accurate information.

Whether you’re on the requesting or receiving end of a potential court-ordered drug test, a Tempe child custody lawyer at Blanchette Law PLLC can help you understand your options and advocate for the best interests of your child. 

Call (602) 881-1748 to get started today.

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