You have been ordered by a Virginia court to undergo drug testing related to your child custody case. Terrified, you comply. And then you have to hope. You have to hope that an owner of the testing laboratory dealing with your test does not alter or forge your results. Hey, it happens!

Well, It’s Not Alabama

You live in Virginia, a good distance from Alabama, which works to your benefit. In Alabama, the owner of a drug testing laboratory stands accused of altering lab results in drug and paternity cases, according to How can you be sure such a situation — forging lab results, falsifying records, pocketing lab testing money from the courts — could not happen here?

You can’t. All you can do is equip yourself with a strong legal advisor who has the experience in Virginia law to ask all the right questions. A knowledgeable family law attorney will know to question the validity of a drug test performed on you, even when you cannot think clearly.

When faced with court-ordered drug testing, all you can think about is your child’s future, a future imperiled by potentially damaging results from a drug test. Suddenly you question every meal and beverage you have had in the last two weeks. Will poppy seeds from a bagel doom your case? Possibly, as outlined in a Washington Post article recently.

Foods that Can Make You Pop On a Drug Test

Let’s say your wife tosses your name out to the court, suggesting you need a drug screening to determine if you are a responsible parent. Any of these, according to the New York Post, could trigger a false positive:

  • Hemp seeds (tetrahydrocannabinol {THC})
  • Durian fruit
  • Yeast in breads, donuts, and pastries
  • Vanilla extract (alcohol)
  • Tonic water (quinine)
  • Dietary supplements (epinephrine)
  • Cough syrup (dextromethorphan)

Hold on a minute, you say. Can your wife or ex-wife really toss your name out there like red meat for the lions, and get a court to order you drug tested? Yup!

Drug Testing is Perfectly Legal

While you may feel a drug test is an invasion of your privacy, under Code of Virginia § 16.1-278.15, the court may …

“order drug testing of any parent, guardian, legal custodian or person standing in loco parentis to the child. The court may enter such orders as it deems appropriate for the payment of the costs of the testing by the parties.”

That sounds a bit all-encompassing and vague, doesn’t it? It is. Reread it and answer these questions:

  1. Who alerts the court of a possible drug issue in the custody case?
  2. What legal standard — reasonable suspicion, probable cause, or something else — must be met to justify the order?
  3. Which parent pays for the testing?

These are not trick questions, but they also cannot be answered in the wording of the law. This is intentional, giving the judge wide latitude to decide if a parent should be drug tested. A suggestion from one of the two parents may be sufficient cause.

Requesting a Drug Test

You can request a drug test for yourself or suggest to the court that a drug test be given to the child’s mother, guardian, custodian or other person with a legitimate interest in the child.

You would request a drug test for yourself only to rule out any questions regarding your behavior. You would only request the test for yourself if you were absolutely certain nothing detrimental to your case could come from the test. And you would request it only if your attorney approved of the idea.

Positive Drug Tests in Custody Cases

Having your attorney suggest a drug test for the other party could be done to protect your child. Most attorneys would not use the tactic merely to upset the opposing party; a legitimate interest must underlie such a petition to the court.

If the child’s mother returns a positive test for drug use, her chances of gaining custody drop significantly, because of Virginia Code § 20-124.3, in which the best interests of the child are the overriding factor.

The law stipulates a judge consider the “age and physical and mental condition of each parent.” Drug users are not considered to be ideal parents.

Protect Yourself: Call The Firm For Men

If you are accused of drug abuse while enmeshed in a child custody case, you must protect yourself. Your child custody case may hinge on the outcome of a drug test, so work with your family law attorney to know and assert your rights. Your attorney will question everything — the accuracy of results, the reputation of the lab — so that your chances of winning custody of your child are not affected by unwanted results.

Child custody cases are emotional, personal, and life-altering. Add drug testing and the risks that brings, and you can tie yourself in knots. For professional, accurate advice, contact the professional family law attorneys of The Firm For Men, or call our offices at 757-383-9184.