All custody decisions are based on the child’s best interests. When awarding custody, a judge can take drug abuse into account. (Awarding an addicted parent full custody may not be in the child’s best interest.) For this reason, a judge can order you to take a drug test during a custody battle.

Judges typically do not order a drug test during a divorce unless there is evidence of ongoing drug use (such as a drug-related conviction). However, drug testing policies vary from state-to-state. In some states, evidence of one parent’s drug use results in the drug testing of both parents. A family law attorney can help you understand your state’s drug testing policies.

What Happens If I Fail a Drug Test During My Child Custody Dispute?

If you fail a drug test, the judge may limit your parenting time. Typically, judges find that exposing a child to drug use is not in his or her best interests. Depending on the facts of your case, the judge may award only supervised visits with your child or deny custody all together.

Can Drug Testing be Included in My Custody or Visitation Agreement?

If a parent has a history of drug use, a custody or visitation agreement can include drug-testing requirements. For example, you might agree that the parent take and pass a drug test before each scheduled visit with your child. A failed test would result in a lost visit. Or, you could agree that a certain number of failed tests will result in loss of custody or visitation rights. It’s important to express your concerns about your child’s exposure to drug use to your family law attorney. Your lawyer can help you negotiate a custody or visitation agreement that protects your child.

I’m Now Sober. Can I Modify my Custody Order?

In many cases, the loss of custody or visitation rights due to drug use can be reversed. Judges are sometimes willing to reexamine and modify custody and visitation orders when parents show that they are now fit to have custody or visitation rights. Completion of drug or alcohol rehabilitation programs, multiple passed drug tests, and other evidence of changed behavior are all ways for individuals to show the court that they should be awarded more parenting time.

Do I Need a Lawyer for My Custody Dispute Involving Drug Testing?

It can be difficult to handle a child custody claim on your own—especially if drug use is an issue. While a positive drug test can impact your parenting time, it is only one factor (of many) that the judge must weigh when awarding custody. A child custody lawyer can help you present a persuasive case for custody. And, if you believe your child’s other parent is abusing drugs, a lawyer can help you protect your child from harm.