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Family Law Attorney Stacy Sabatini, Esq.

News and insights about divorce and family law in New York.

Child Custody and Parental Drug Testing

In a perfect world, child custody arrangements would be simple and straightforward. However, there are some instances in which one parent may feel that their child is in danger while under the supervision of the other parent. Perhaps no such situation poses more danger to a child than parental drug addiction. This article explores the role of parental drug testing in child custody cases and the impact drug use has on parental custody rights.

Drug use and “the best interest of the child” standard

As with all family law cases, New York courts evaluate if any course of legal action—whether it be granting full custody, modifying visitation, or any other instance that will significantly impact the child’s life—is in the best interest of the child before issuing an order. The best interest of the child standard is somewhat subjective, as each judge makes the determination by weighing any number of relevant factors. However, some factors, such as drug abuse by one of the parents, are so innately harmful to the child’s wellbeing that the court will see the substance dependency as outweighing other positive factors. While drug abuse does not always result in loss of custody, it can often impact the addicted parent’s ability to spend unsupervised time with their child.

Circumstances when the court can order mandatory drug testing

Drug abuse and dependency in one or both parents can have devastating and lasting effects on children. Because of the serious danger that parental drug abuse can pose to children, the court does have the discretion to order that one or both parents submit to drug testing.

However, the court must have a reasonable basis for requesting the drug test and can’t order drug testing based solely on an accusation by the other parent. Factors such as past drug-related arrests or failed addiction treatment can be considered by the court, as well as other facts that support the likelihood of current drug use and the necessity of testing.

The court may order one or both parents to immediately submit to drug testing, either by urine sample or hair follicle testing, or both.

The parent who is accused of substance abuse can refuse to be tested; however, in the eyes of the court a refusal to submit to testing is treated the same as if the parent had taken the test and failed.

Protect the best interest of your child with the Law Offices of Stacy Sabatini, Esq.

If one parent tests positive for a substance that is not prescribed by a doctor, it is likely that the parent will be ordered to have supervised visitation with the child until proof of successful addiction treatment is provided to the court. For more information on how we can help protect your child, contact us online at or via our email form today for your free initial consultation. Located in New City, New York, our office proudly represents residents of Rockland, Orange, and Westchester counties.

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