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. The court awards custody based on the child’s best interest. Determining the best interests of the child requires weighing all relevant factors, including allegations of a parent’s drug or alcohol abuse.
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 drug or alcohol testing.
Pursuant to the Family Code, only the least intrusive method of testing is allowed. At this time, current federal standards rely only 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 court, and in compliance with specific procedures and standards established by the Department of Health and Human Services.
Test results are sealed and confidential, and may only be released to the court and the parties’ attorneys. A positive drug or alcohol test result does not automatically constitute grounds for 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. 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 custody issues.