How will a drug test affect my child custody case in North Carolina?

Posted by Jonathan Jerkins | Apr 27, 2018 | 0 Comments

In a contested child custody case, your ex-spouse may bring up any and every negative thing you've ever done in your life. An ex could even exaggerate or lie about how your past behavior could endanger your child, including any current or prior drug use. A positive drug test could put your child custody case at risk but it does not necessarily mean you will lose custody of your kids.

There may be a number of reasons why the court would require a drug test. A drug test could be requested by your spouse as part of the child custody hearings. The court could also require a drug test of one or both parents. A drug test could also be required as part of a separate criminal case, or parole or probation requirement. For parents trying to get custody of their kids, a positive drug test result can be a serious problem.

Can My Ex Make Me Take a Drug Test?

Your ex cannot necessarily make you take a drug test, but they can ask the court to do so. The court can require either or both parents to take a drug test. Generally, each parent has to pay for their own drug testing. A court can also require one parent to take a test to be paid for by the requesting parent. If the test comes back positive, the testing parent may have to reimburse the requesting parent for the costs.

Is There a History or Pattern of Substance Abuse?

What the court does after a parent tests positive for drugs will depend on a lot of factors, including the type of drug involved, and whether it is a single event or a pattern of substance abuse. The specific judge involved can also make a difference in your drug case with some judges taking a harsher stance on drugs.

It may seem unfair to some that a positive marijuana test is treated more harshly than alcohol. Alcohol use can put a child's safety at risk, especially when someone is drinking and driving. However, even though the majority of states have legalized medical marijuana and a number have even legalized recreational marijuana, it is still illegal in North Carolina and under federal law.

Consequences of a Positive Drug Test

When deciding child custody in North Carolina, the court considers what is in the best interest of the child. This includes:

  • The safety of the child,
  • Ability of the parent to care for the child,
  • History of violence or abuse, and
  • All other relevant factors.

If the court determines that a parent's drug use is putting the child at risk of injury or compromises the parent's ability to care for the child, the court can restrict custody. This may include requiring:

  • Supervised visitation,
  • Modified child custody plans,
  • Parenting classes,
  • Substance abuse treatment,
  • No drug use within a time window around visitation or custody, or
  • Random drug testing.

Jerkins Family Law

If you have questions about how a drug test could affect your child custody rights, please do not hesitate to call Jerkins Family Law for assistance. We are committed to providing passionate representation for you and your family. Contact us today so we can guide you to a better solution.

About the Author

Jonathan Jerkins

Jonathan "Jay" Jerkins, a native of Raleigh, North Carolina, intentionally focuses his practice on all aspects of North Carolina family law litigation and negotiations. Jay was admitted to the practice of law in North Carolina in 2014.


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