Can I request a drug test for the other parent?  What about a hair follicle test?

The problem of drug use by one of the parents in a child custody battle is frequently an issue that family law attorneys must deal with.  First and foremost, as an attorney, I want to ensure that the children are safe.  Often times, parents pointing the drug use finger have some past drug use as well, and demanding a drug test can be fatal.

It is not possible, in California, to force a parent to take a hair follicle test for drug detection.  The California Family Code is clear on what a judge may order and how the testing may be completed; and hair follicle testing is not an option.  However, hair follicle testing can be ordered when the parents agree to submit to the testing.

When the issue of drug use is brought up during a hearing, one attorney may approach the subject and suggest the other party be willing to submit to a hair follicle test, in order to resolve the issue.  If the judge asks the parent if they are willing to participate, they usually comply out of fear of “looking guilty.”  This compliance, or stipulation to drug test, takes the parent outside of the Family Code limitations and permits the hair follicle test to move forward and places the parent at a significant risk, if they have used any substance in the last 180 days.

I would not recommend that any of my clients stipulate to a hair follicle test, unless they are 100% sure they are drug free.  Hair follicle tests have provided positive drug test results as far back as six months.  So, that Valium you took four months ago (that you forgot about), may show up as a positive on a test.  Hair follicle test do not give a “used on” date, they only give a “positive” or “negative” for “some time in the past several months.”

If you use drugs or alcohol, have children, and want help, there are many resources to help you with recovery.  Remember that your children are very aware of your actions.

If you have any questions regarding drug use and drug testing during your child custody case, or child visitation modification because of drug use, the Law Office of Heath L. Baker will help you.  Please contact us at (951) 222-2228, or at our website: www.heathbakerlaw.com.  We would love to talk to you in person and discuss the family law or divorce issues that are important to you.