Drug Testing in Los Angeles Child Custody Cases

Hossein Berenji, Dec 27, 2017

Drug and alcohol abuse is one of the leading causes of divorce in Los Angeles. If your spouse’s drug abuse has led you to the important decision to get a divorce it is important to contact a Los Angeles family law attorney. This is especially true if you and your spouse have children who will be affected by the split. As a part of your divorce, you will be required to determine a custody arrangement for your children. When drug and/or alcohol abuse are factors in the divorce you can fight to limit your spouse’s custody and/or visitation rights. Asking the court to order a drug test can help to support your arguments during a child custody dispute.

Keeping Los Angeles Children Safe

When parents cannot agree on a custody arrangement for their children, or if one parent raises issues about the health and safety of a child, California courts have the authority to step in and make important decisions. When making child custody decisions, California courts must act to do what serves the best interests of a child. In most situations, California family courts will try to keep children in frequent and continuing contact with both parents. However, if one parent poses a threat to a child’s health, safety, or well being, courts will be hesitant to allow that parent to have custody or unsupervised visitation.

This is certainly true when a parent has a drug and/or alcohol problems. Parents who abuse drugs and/or alcohol are more likely to emotionally, physically, and/or psychologically harm their children. Courts will not allow parents with a documented drug problem harm their own children.

Proving Your Spouse Has a Drug Problem

How can you prove to the court that your spouse has a problem with drugs and/or alcohol? You can’t simply walk into court and expect the judge to rely on your verbal accusation. If that were the case, spouses would be enticed to falsely accuse their soon-to-be exes in order to achieve favorable custody arrangements. In order to prove that your spouse has a drug problem, you must provide evidence. This evidence can include:

  • Police and arrest reports;
  • Social worker reports;
  • Medical reports;
  • Photographs or videos;
  • Witness testimony; and
  • Rehabilitation records.

You can use these vital pieces of evidence to convince the California family law court that your spouse has a drug dependency problem. If a judge believes that your allegation is more likely to be true than not, they can order your spouse to undergo mandatory drug testing.

Drug Testing in Child Custody Cases

When a California family law judge requires a spouse to submit to mandatory drug testing they must order the least intrusive testing method that is possible. In most cases, a judge will also require the accusing spouse to undergo mandatory drug testing, as well. It is important to keep this in mind if you want to request drug testing in your child custody case. If you do not think that the results would be helpful in your quest for custody you may want to reconsider your strategy.

When the results of the court-ordered drug test come back it will be reviewed by the judge. The results of the drug test cannot automatically strip a parent’s custodial or visitation rights. A judge must consider the drug test results in conjunction with all of the other relevant evidence in the case. This means that a positive drug test will not necessarily mean that your quest for sole custody will be successful. A judge will still determine which custody arrangement is in the best interests of the child. Remember, courts will always prefer to keep children in frequent and continuing contact with both parents.

Limitations on the Use of Drug Tests

Was your spouse ordered to take a drug test during your child custody battle? Do you want to use their positive drug test as evidence in another legal matter? California law prohibits the results of a child custody drug test from being used in any other criminal or civil matter. In fact, California law also requires the results of a court-ordered drug test in a child custody matter to be sealed. Parties who violate the confidentiality of the matter can face serious fines.

Just because a drug test does come back positive does not mean that the test was accurate. Parents who test positive for drugs can challenge the results and validity of the test. Some parents may request additional testing, while others may decide to challenge the method of the initial test.

Request a Drug Test in Your Los Angeles Child Custody Matter

Do you know or suspect that your spouse has a drug or alcohol dependency problem? Call the family law attorneys at Berenji & Associates, APC to learn about requesting a drug test in your child custody case. Our team of experienced family law attorneys have more than 20 years of combined legal experience and understand that the health and safety of your family are incredibly important. We will help you fight to make sure that a divorce does not put your children at risk of harm. Call us today to schedule a free case evaluation. We will review your case, explain the process for requesting a drug test, and answer the questions you have.