What initiates drug testing in child custody cases?
A court-ordered drug test is often required to assess potential substance misuse when deciding to safeguard a child. It helps them to assess the environment and living care they will receive and the conditions that they will be exposed to.
The purpose of a court-ordered drug test is to assess whether a parent or caregiver is/has recently used drugs. It can also be used to see if the person maintains abstinence.
When are court-ordered drug tests ordered?
If there is enough cause for reasonable doubt regarding drug misuse, such as:
- reports from social services,
- medical reports,
- drug-related offences,
- testimonies of witnesses,
- or reports from law enforcement bodies.
In the presence of one or more of the above, the court may decide that a drug test is necessary to help determine custody.
The result of a drug test will help the court to decide whether the child will be subject to a safe and healthy environment. Find out here how substance testing is used in the family court.
Why the court sees substance misuse as a risk to children
Children being cared for in an environment where drugs are being used are often exposed to neglect—emotional, pecuniary, or actual physical harm.
Exposure to substance misuse, whether it be illegal drugs or prescription medication misuse, can lead to unsafe living conditions, poor care, and an unstable environment.
This may result in emotional, psychological, or physical harm to a child, with significant consequences for their development in the long term.
What other risk factors are considered by the family court?
Many risk factors are assessed in detail by the family judge while determining the custody of the child in a guardianship case. For example, mental health issues.
If serious concerns are posed to the child’s well-being the court may ask social services or Cafcass to put together a report.
If the circumstances demand it, the court can also order assessments such as psychiatric reports. They can make referrals for the parent to attend parenting courses to educate and offer support.
Why does Atkinson Lewis offer a medical interpretation of drug tests?
If drug misuse is suspected, then a medical interpretation of a drug test is of great value. A medical interpretation of a drug test can be used to determine patterns of drug misuse. It even looks at the potential impact on their behaviour, emotional stability, and mental health.
This will then form part of the full evidentiary picture. Thus helping the court make a safer decision, in the best interest of the child.