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Drug Testing in Family Law Cases

In Florida family law cases, courts rely on many factors when making decisions as to child custody and parental responsibility. While the testimony of the parties, evidence presented and history of the family all play important roles, Chapter 61, Florida Statutes, enumerates the factors courts must consider when determining parental responsibility and custody.

Pursuant to Section 61.13(3)(q), Florida Statutes, for purposes of establishing or modifying parental responsibility and creating, developing, approving or modifying a parenting plan, including a time-sharing schedule, the Court must evaluate all of the factors affecting the welfare and interests of the minor child, including the demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to maintain an environment for the child which is free from substance abuse.

If you suspect that there are substance abuse issues in your family law case, you may want to consider asking the court to order drug testing. If the court grants the request, a party will be required to go a testing facility, submit to a test, and provide those test results to the court. Depending on the results of the test, the court may order a party to enter drug counseling, abstain from substance misuse, and engage in further testing to ensure their ability to maintain an environment for the child which is free from substance abuse.

The court may also be helpful in providing recommendations as to resources for rehabilitation and facilities to assist a parent with getting back on the path to sobriety. It is important to remember that the purpose of drug testing in family law cases is not to punish or embarrass a parent, but to ensure that they are able to be the effective, drug-free parent that a child deserves.

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