Tampa Custody Attorney

Can a Family Court Judge Order Drug Testing?

Why a judge could order a drug test during custody cases.

In custody litigation, the judge has the authority to order that either party take a drug test if the family law judge believes that one will be in the best interest of the minor children.  If you would like your ex-spouse to submit to a court ordered drug test, you will have to often prove that your ex-spouse has some kind of history of drug problems.  Additionally, you will have to prove that the substance abuse history might have a negative impact on your minor children. There are numerous different drug tests out there, each with varying costs and effectiveness.  

Urine Test

The most common drug test utilized in the family law court system is a urine test.  The urine tests usually screen for amphetamines, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, cocaine, marijuana, MDMA (Ecstasy) and its metabolite, methadone, opiates, oxycodone, phencyclidine (PCP) and propoxyphene, synthetic cannabinoids (“K2/Spice”) and synthetic stimulants (“Bath Salts”).  A urine test usually will only test for drug use that goes back a few days.  It is important that the urine test must be completed as quickly as possible. Otherwise, the drug might no longer show up in the screening. Urine tests are not usually used for testing alcohol use because alcohol can pass quickly through your body.  Urine tests are easy to fake and sometimes can elicit a false negative.  This makes them sometimes unreliable.  On the other hand, a urine test is usually the cheapest of the drug tests.  

Saliva Test

Another test that is not often used is a saliva test. A saliva test can detect drug use immediately and is not very invasive.  The saliva test can usually screen for the same drugs as a urine test.  The saliva test can have results available as quickly as 8 hours to 24 hours. A saliva test might be used by a parent a day before their scheduled time sharing in order to ensure there is no drug use prior to picking up the minor child.  Additionally, another saliva test after the time sharing could ensure that there was no drug use during the time sharing period. A saliva test is a little more expensive than a urine test.

Blood Test

A blood test is very invasive, as one would imagine.  Blood tests have a very brief detection window and are often used if the person is believed to be under the influence of drugs that instant.  Blood tests can be very costly and are not usually used in custody cases.  However, drugs in a person’s blood can be detectable within minutes.  

Hair Follicle Test

A hair follicle test is usually the test that I recommend to my clients the most.  A hair follicle test can detect drug use up to 90 days in the past.  A hair follicle test often tests for the following drugs:  Cocaine (Cocaine & Benzoylecgonine), Marijuana, Opiates (Codeine, Morphine & 6-Monacteyl Morphine), Methamphetamine (Methamphetamine/Amphetamine & Ecstasy), and Phencyclidine (PCP).  A hair follicle test is often a lot more expensive than a simple urine test.  The hair can be taken from anywhere on the body and can be combined from different locations on the body to obtain the requisite sample.  

Fingernail Test

A fingernail or toenail drug test is also one that I recommend frequently.  The fingernail test can test for the same drugs that the hair follicle test will screen.  A nail test can test for drug use several months in the past.  It is also more expensive than the urine test.  

A judge will not order that a drug test be administered lightly.  Certain facts must be proven during the presentation of evidence before the judge will determine that a drug test is necessary.  The McKinney Law Group works closely with several experts who are trained to administer each test listed above.  After careful evaluation of the facts, we will make a decision together regarding which test to request to achieve the best results in your family law case.  

If you have any questions related to divorce or require legal assistance in other areas of Family Law, you may always contact Damien McKinney of The McKinney Law Group to discuss your case further. He can be reached by phone at 813-428-3400 or by e-mail at [email protected].