Drug use by one or both parents is cause for great concern when determining the custody or visitation rights that pertain to a child. If you are involved in a custody case and suspect that your child’s other parent is using drugs, you may ask the Court to order them to submit to a drug test. Virginia Code Section 16.1-278.15 states, in pertinent part, that “When deemed appropriate by the court in any custody or visitation matter, the court may order drug testing of any parent, guardian, legal custodian or person standing in loco parentis to the child. The court may enter such orders as it deems appropriate for the payment of the costs of the testing by the parties.”
This should be requested in advance of the final hearing so that the results of the drug test are available to the court at trial. If you wait until the trial date to request drug testing, your request will most likely be denied. The results of the drug test are shared with the court and all parties involved. Urine sampling and hair follicle testing are the most common methods of drug testing. Urine samples can detect alcohol or drug use for the previous few days while hair follicle testing results can detect alcohol or drug use for the previous few weeks or, for some drugs, months. If the court suspects that a party’s drug use is due to any emotional concerns then the court, under the same Code Section, has the authority to order a psychological evaluation if the court finds such evaluation would assist it in its determination of custody or visitation.
The attorneys at Odin, Feldman & Pittleman have extensive experience handling such matters and can answer any questions you have regarding the role of drug abuse in custody and visitation matters.