How is drug testing used in family court?

Drug testing is commonly used in family court, especially in child custody cases.

Both parents have the right to request a test for the other, but the court will typically require both to test when that happens.

What are the types of drug testing?

The court may order one of three testing methods:

  1. hair follicle test rarely comes first, but it is most reliable when testing for methamphetamine. It is not very useful to test for lighter drug use.
  2. urine test is the most common. It is relatively inexpensive and will detect marijuana even months after stopping daily use.
  3. blood test order typically happens in cases where the individual has a history of drug abuse or criminal activity.

A blood test is the most reliable type of testing.

When is it ordered?

Court-ordered drug testing occurs on a case-by-case basis. When reasonable grounds exist, the court will likely test. Additionally, refusal to submit to a drug test can allow the court to infer the results.

How can it affect custody?

A positive drug test can and typically does affect child custody. For example, if a non-custodial parent tests positive for any type of illegal substance, they can lose visitation rights. If a custodial parent tests positive, the court may remove the children from their custody, often while they complete a court-ordered rehabilitation program. Typically, immediate action takes place to protect the best interests of the child.

Family law court can use drug testing whenever it deems appropriate, and while you have the freedom to refuse, you do not have freedom from consequences.