When Are Drug Tests Used in Los Angeles Child Custody Cases?

Hossein Berenji, Oct 18, 2023

Substance abuse is a serious health problem in the United States. Unfortunately, drug use impacts all areas of the population, including parents. If a parent has a substance abuse problem, it is essential for the court to address the issue during a child custody case. 

California Family Court Code §3011 requires judges to consider a parent’s habitual or continual illegal use of controlled substances or prescribed controlled substances when deciding what is in the child’s best interest. The court may require independent corroboration of the drug use before considering it as a factor in the custody decision.

The judge may view records from:

  • Law enforcement agencies
  • Courts
  • Social welfare agencies
  • Probation departments
  • Rehabilitation facilities
  • Medical facilities
  • Other public agencies
  • Non-profit organizations providing drug and alcohol abuse services

The court may order drug testing under Code §3041.5 by the least intrusive method. The testing must be performed according to the procedures and standards set by the United States Department of Health and Human Resources for drug testing of federal employees. 

A positive drug test does not automatically result in an adverse outcome in a child custody case. The parent who tested positive has the right to a hearing to challenge the positive result. 

What Should a Parent Know About Requesting a Drug Test in Los Angeles Child Custody Cases?

Before you petition the court for an order requiring your child’s other parent to submit to drug testing, there are some considerations you should discuss with a Los Angeles child custody lawyer. For instance, the judge will likely order both parents to undergo drug testing. Furthermore, the court usually orders the parents to pay for the drug tests.

Ensure your evidence related to drug use is factual. The judge will not likely order a drug test in a Los Angeles child custody case based merely on your opinion. Instead, you need evidence indicating your child’s other parent is addicted to or is regularly abusing drugs. 

For example, create a list of each time you have known your ex-partner to use drugs. Obtain sworn affidavits from individuals who witnessed your ex using drugs or have other evidence that your ex used drugs. You can also use copies of reports and records from government agencies, law enforcement, or other sources that detail drug use by your child’s other parent.

Does a Positive Drug Test Automatically Result in Sole Custody for the Other Parent in California? 

Even though your ex-partner might test positive for drug use, the result cannot automatically remove a parent’s right to custody or visitation with their child. Instead, the judge uses the information as one of the factors to consider as they determine what is in the child’s best interest.

However, judges carefully consider habitual drug use by a parent during a child custody case. Illegal drug use or abuse of a prescription drug can indicate poor judgment. It can also pose a risk to the child if the parent uses the drugs when their child is with them.

Therefore, drug use could negatively impact your ability to obtain joint custody and liberal visitation with your child. A judge could award sole custody to your child’s other parent and restrict your visitation or order supervised visitation. The judge might determine that you are an unfit parent. 

What Should I Do if I Suspect My Child’s Other Parent Is Using Drugs?

Schedule a free consultation with an experienced Los Angeles child custody lawyer to discuss your concerns. Gather as much information and evidence as possible to take with you to your appointment with an attorney. A child custody lawyer will review the evidence you have and analyze the facts you present to advise you of your legal rights and options.

Contact law enforcement and child services if you believe your child is in immediate danger. Then, contact an attorney to discuss the next steps. Your attorney may suggest filing a motion or an emergency hearing with the family court if you have sufficient evidence to prove your child is in imminent danger.

The court can grant temporary emergency custody if it finds that leaving the child in the present situation could be dangerous. The judge may give you sole temporary custody pending a full hearing. 

However, if you go this route, it is crucial that you hire an experienced Los Angeles child custody lawyer with experience handling these types of cases. An experienced lawyer understands the laws governing drug tests and emergency custody hearings. The attorney knows how to present a compelling argument as to why the judge should grant you custody and order drug testing in a child custody case. 

Contact a Los Angeles Family Law Lawyer Today

If you’re going through a divorce, you need a strong team on your side fighting for your rights. Call Berenji & Associates today to know how we can assist you.

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