Will the Court DRUG TEST My Wife?

Q. How do I get a Court Order for drug testing my wife? I know she is using and I fear she is a danger to our son.

A. Your argument for drug and alcohol testing of parents or others having custody or visitation with children in California is found in Family Code section 3041.5. The statute is only five years old, and before it enactment the only practical way to get drug testing was by the other party's agreement.

It is possible to convince a family court that the other parent should be tested for drugs or alcohol where you present sufficient evidence that there "is the habitual, frequent, or continual illegal use of controlled substances or the habitual or continual abuse of alcohol by the parent, legal custodian, person seeking guardianship, or person seeking visitation in a guardianship." FC section 3041.5(a).

This evidence includes but is not limited to proof that the other person has been convicted in the past five years of the illegal use or possession of a controlled substance.

The other important statute you need to cite to the Court is Family Code section 3011(d), which speaks to the requirement in determining what custody and visitation is in the best interests of children courts must consider evidence of the habitual use of controlled substances (non-prescription or otherwise) or alcohol - but first you must submit "independent corroboration".

In my experience what often happens when drug allegations are made is that Family Judges prefer to get the parties to agree to drug testing and only order it when they will not (or when recommended by family court services or a mental health professional). If the parties will not agree, judges may order the testing as long as there is some corroboration that a potential drug issue exists. I am always amazed that people who are using (who are "dirty" as we say) will agree to test when they may not need to because there is insufficient independent proof of the use of drugs. At the same time, maybe this is a good time to "stop"?

Please see my blog on hair follicle testing.

T.W. Arnold