Child custody & drug testing

Written by mike broemmel
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Child custody & drug testing
Establishing child custody. (children in winter image by Marzanna Syncerz from

The laws in all states in the U.S. dictate that the best interests of the child govern custody decisions. The physical, mental and emotional fitness of parents become part of the equation. Drug testing often occurs in child custody cases with regularity.

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Drug testing serves a number of functions in child custody cases. It helps to determine whether a parent uses drugs when seeking custody or whether custody should be changed because a parent started using drugs after an award of custody.

Regular Testing

If a parent tested positive for drugs during custody proceedings, the court will order ongoing, random testing.

Supervised Parenting Time

A positive drug test by the non-custodial parent triggers further custody and parenting time hearings. Through this process, the court can restrict the non-custodial parent's parenting time (visitation), require supervision during parenting time or terminate it all together.

Material Change of Circumstances

The laws of all states require a material change of circumstances (or a legal equivalent) to change custody by court order. A material change of circumstances is a change in the status of a parent so significant a custody change becomes necessary to protect the best interests of the child. Positive drug tests as evidence of substance use and abuse is considered a material change of circumstances.


An allegation of illegal substance use or abuse seriously impacts you rights to custody and parenting time. You need to consider seriously retaining experienced legal representation in such a situation. Local and state bar associations typically maintain directories of attorneys in different practice areas.

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