Drug Abuse in Divorce Cases Is Sad, but a Reality

Drug Abuse in Divorce Cases Is Sad, but a Reality

By Frank Vendt |

All too often, drug abuse by one spouse or the other is a major factor in divorce. Just as drug abuse can break up a marriage, it can have a dramatic impact on how a divorce court decides to deal with custody and visitation issues in a divorce case. If you are divorcing a drug abuser, how can you ensure that your children are protected?

Courts are unlikely to award primary custody—known as conservatorship in Texas—to a parent who is a drug abuser. While the parent who allegedly is a drug abuser can claim to be reformed, Texas law requires the parents of the children of the marriage to work together on a parenting plan addressing how they would like to deal with custody, visitation, and other issues related to the children of the marriage. You can request drug testing for your spouse when you formulate the “parenting plan” that helps the court determine conservatorship, or custody, of the children of the marriage.

While your spouse might object to the inclusion, this request brings the issue to the attention of the court, which likely will spur action by the court. Courts can order drug testing in divorce cases where custody issues are involved. Positive results for drug or alcohol abuse can have a dramatic impact on the court’s decisions regarding custody and visitation. Because those decisions must be based on the best interests of the children, findings of drug or alcohol abuse likely will lead the court to opt for more restrictive custody or visitation arrangements for the abusing parent.

What Kinds Of Drug Tests Can The Court Order?

There are three basic kinds of tests the court can order. These are urine testing, hair testing, and nail testing, either fingernails or toenails. Blood testing also is used.

The most common test used is urine testing. However, for alcohol and some other drugs, urine testing is useful only for a short time after the drugs are ingested. Also, the test can be stymied by consuming large amounts of water before testing.

Hair testing can detect drug use over a longer time period than can urine testing. Hair testing can detect a number of different drugs, from two weeks to as much as three months after consumption. However, special shampoos, dyes, and, of course, haircuts can undermine hair-testing results, as well.

Testing of fingernails or toenails provides the longest look-back period of any type of drug testing and it is the hardest test to fool. Nail samples can reflect drug use for up to six months.

What Effect Will Drug Use Have On Custody Issues?

Courts are naturally reluctant to give primary custody or conservatorship to someone who is currently using drugs. The court likely would require supervised visitation, if it allows visitation at all, depending upon the severity of the problem. If the drug-abusing parent is unwilling to treat the problem, he or she is unlikely to have conservatorship or even liberal visitation rights.

If You Are Getting Divorced, You Should Contact The Vendt Law Firm, P.L.L.C., for Legal Assistance

If you are getting divorced in Katy or Richmond, and your spouse has a drug or other substance abuse problem, seek assistance to ensure the best outcome for your children and you. The Vendt Law Firm, P.L.L.C., can help you through the process. Contact the firm at (832) 276-9474 or through my online contact form.