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Can I Be Forced to Take a Drug Test in Pennsylvania Family Court?

Published: Jan 31, 2018 in Child Custody, Family Court
Drug test

Written by Anthony Piccirilli

When your Pennsylvania child custody matter becomes contentious, you may worry about the allegations your child’s other parent will fling your way. When your child’s other parent becomes angry and wants to push you out of your child’s life, it can be tempting to make accusations that make you look bad, unfit, and dangerous. In order to sway the judge in their favor, they may say you committed acts of domestic violence, drank too much, or used illegal drugs.

When it comes to any accusations of drug and alcohol abuse, you can expect the next step in a Pennsylvania court to be testing. During this time, you may wonder, “can I be forced to take a drug test in Pennsylvania?” Testing is good if you are genuinely concerned that your child’s other parent is using controlled substances. It also benefits you to submit to a test when you are confident that you are drug-free and have been for a significant period of time.

However, if you made a one-time mistake or only have a few weeks or months of sobriety, you need to call a family court lawyer at Pittsburgh Divorce & Family Law, LLC immediately. Contact us today at (412) 471-5100 to schedule a free, initial case consultation.

A Judge May Require One or Both Parents to Take Drug Tests in Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, if a judge has any reason to believe you or your spouse used illegal drugs during a child custody matter, they may independently order you to take a drug test. The judge may order this test based on you or the other parent’s behavior in the courtroom, or from allegations made by one of you against the other in court documents.

A judge has the power to do this whenever it is in the best interests of the child. They cannot make a final decision regarding the best parenting arrangement for the child until they have all of the facts, including whether you or the other parent use or are dependent on one or more controlled substances.

You or the Other Parent May Request a Drug Test

If you are concerned that your child’s other parent is using illegal drugs, whether for the first time or as part of a relapse from sobriety, speak with a family court attorney immediately. We may file a motion in court requesting that the other parent be required to submit to a drug test. Depending on the situation, we may also request that the parent be required to undergo a mental health evaluation.

The other parent may also request the same of you based on genuine concern or to try and sway the case in their favor. If you are being accused of using or being addicted to illegal drugs, talk to your attorney right away about how to disprove the allegations.

There Are Various Types of Drug Tests in Pennsylvania

A Pennsylvania judge can order you, the other parent, or both of you to submit to a urine, blood, nail, or follicle test. Each of these tests is performed differently and can detect alcohol or an illegal substance in your system for a different duration of time. A hair follicle test provides the longest history of drug use.

The drug test you or the other parent requests depends on a number of factors, such as the period of time in question and how quickly the court wants the results. If a court is worried about habitual use, they may prefer a follicle test, which can detect drug use that occurred weeks or months in the past. If the accusations are that you or the other parent use drugs frequently, a test that looks at more recent drug use may be adequate.

If One of You Fails a Drug Test

If you or your child’s other parent fails a drug test, this may impact the judge’s child custody decision. However, it does not automatically mean you will lose custody. The judge must still look at a variety of factors to determine the arrangement that is in the child’s best interests.

You or the other parent may be required to refrain from using illegal drugs and submit to random drug testing. The judge could also require you or the other parent to participate in a rehabilitation program before gaining custody or visitation with your child.

Call us to Discuss Drug Tests During Child Custody Disputes

Whether you know accusations are coming or you believe your child’s other parent is using drugs, call Pittsburgh Divorce & Family Law, LLC right away. We have years of experience representing individuals in child custody disputes. If drug or alcohol use is an issue, we will help you effectively address it in court and continue to fight for what is right for your child.

Contact us today at (412) 471-5100 to schedule an initial consultation.