Drug Testing in California Child Custody Cases
If your spouse, domestic partner, or former boyfriend or girlfriend accuses you of substance abuse, or if you accuse your child’s other parent of substance abuse, you’re not alone. “Substance abuse is a significant public health problem for people of all ages and walks of life,” says the CDC.
Millions of children in the United States live in households where their parents or caregivers are regularly involved in alcohol or drug use, distribution, production, or cultivation of illicit substances.” In Psychology Today, Christopher Bergland wrote.
Children whose parents abuse alcohol and drugs are three times more likely to be victims of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse than other children, and their risk of neglect is four times higher than their peers, according to the clinical report “Families Affected by Parental Substance Use.”
If you are a parent and suspect that your husband or domestic partner has a drug or alcohol issue, or if your kid’s other parent suspects that you have a problem with drugs or alcohol, you may question, “Can substance addiction effect child custody procedures in California?” Yes, however it depends on the specific facts of the situation.
Substance abuse, including many prescription drugs, and alcohol, can have a significant impact on a parent’s ability to parent in a variety of ways. Some instances are as follows:
Parenting Effects of Alcohol on children
Parenting Effects of Drugs on children
While the preceding lists appear to be lengthy, they only reveal half of the tale.
Child Custody and Drug Testing
It is general known in the family court system that a high number of child custody cases contain allegations of drug and alcohol abuse. Both parents will frequently accuse each other of substance addiction.
Legal separations, domestic violence cases, divorces, child custody cases, mediation sessions, Child Protective Services reports, criminal prosecutions, court hearings, and pleadings and motions are all common ways for drug or alcohol misuse issues to be brought to the attention of the family courts.
“California Family Code 3041.5(a) authorizes a court in a child custody, visitation, or guardianship proceeding to order any person seeking custody or visitation to undergo drug or alcohol testing,” according to the California Courts.
“Before ordering the test, the court must assess if the person is a habitual, frequent, or ongoing illicit user of controlled substances, or a chronic or ongoing alcoholic. A preponderance of the evidence must support that conclusion, which could include a conviction for illegal use or possession of a controlled substance within the previous five years.”
A judge may not have any hard evidence of substance usage in some situations. The accused parent, for example, has never been convicted of a DUI, an alcohol-related offense, or a charge of drug possession. All the judge has is the charge of the other parent, which may or may not be completely true. In this case, the court must assess the reliability of the accusing parent’s testimony in front of him or her.
If there is any historical evidence, it can be quite useful to a court. If the accused has a history of drug charges or DUIs, these are red flags that suggest he or she has a substance abuse issue. A drug-related conviction within the last five years is evidence that can be examined when evaluating whether drug testing should be required in a child custody proceeding, according to Family Code Section 3041.5(a).
For further information on your specific matter, call us at Spodek Law Group today.
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