Child custody is often a highly contested issue in many family law proceedings. When there are allegations of a parent’s drug or alcohol abuse, matters become further complicated in joint custody cases. The court awards sole, physical or legal custody based on the child’s best interest. Determining the best interest of the child requires weighing all relevant factors, including allegations of a parent’s drug or alcohol abuse, allegations of domestic abuse or child abuse, child support, child’s education, parent-child relationship and many others
Before a court considers allegations of a parent’s drug or alcohol abuse, there must be independent corroboration substantiating the accusations, such as a police or medical report. If there is evidence of habitual, frequent or continual illegal use of drugs or alcohol, the court may order alcohol or drug testing.
Pursuant to the Family Code, only the least intrusive method of testing is allowed. Currently, federal standards rely strictly on urine testing. The parties may stipulate to other methods such as hair follicle testing. However, any other type of drug or alcohol testing must be accepted by the family court, and in compliance with specific procedures and standards established by the Department of Health and Human Services.
Test results are sealed confidential and may only be released to the court and to the parties’ attorney(s). A positive drug or alcohol test result does not automatically constitute grounds for custody arrangement or an adverse custody order. At a court hearing, a parent has the right to challenge the positive test result. The court considers the positive test result as just one factor in assessing the child’s best interest.
There are a wide range of consequences that may arise if there have been allegations of drug or alcohol abuse in a custody dispute. As mentioned before, one parent can be awarded sole custody, joint physical custody or visitation rights can be revoked. Therefore, it is recommended that the parties contact a family law attorney to ensure compliance with the law and avoid potentially catastrophic outcomes. The attorneys at Bremer, Whyte, Brown & O’Meara LLP, have extensive knowledge and experience in resolving disputes concerning children. Moreover, our exceptional attorneys are equipped to defend, or prosecute allegations of a parent’s drug or alcohol abuse.
Contact the Family Law attorneys at Bremer, Whyte, Brown & O’Meara LLP to zealously litigate or amicably resolve your child custody issues.