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Drug test may be ordered during child custody proceedings

When children are thrust into the middle of a divorce, the matter can be difficult on an emotional level for all parties involved. Parents might have differing ideas about what is best for the children, and the children themselves may feel torn about which parent they want to spend time with. As tough as settling child custody and visitation can be during marriage dissolution, these issues don't die once a resolution is reached. Instead, child custody modification, as well as visitation modification, may be justified if certain problems arise.

One issue that can affect an initial custody or visitation determination, or a modification of visitation or custody, is drug use. Since courts make their custody determinations based on the best interests of the children involved, judges will weigh factors like substance abuse when making their decisions. Yet, when parents are separated, it may be difficult for one parent to prove that the other is using drugs.

So how can one try to show that a parent is abusing illicit substances? First, they may present witnesses who can shed light on the use. Second, they can ask the court to order the parent to submit to a drug test. Under Louisiana law, the court has the authority to order a parent to submit to a blood, urine, hair, and/or tissue testing to determine if the subject has been using drugs. These samples must be given within a time specified by the court, and a refusal to submit to such testing can be considered by the court when making a custody or visitation determination.

Of course, the court can only order a drug test when good cause is shown. This means that a parent seeking the court ordered test will likely need to present some persuasive evidence to raise the question of sobriety. This issue, like so many others in child custody proceedings, can be hotly contested, which is why many Louisianans may find it beneficial to obtain legal assistance in these matters.

Source: Louisiana State Legislature, "Section 331.1," accessed on Mar. 10, 2017

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