The Case for Evaluations

Substance abuse is a growing epidemic in our modern day society. The opioid crisis dominated news headlines just a short time ago, and has shown no signs of slowing down. This is just one of many potential issues that arise in the family court system. Alcohol, cocaine, and a laundering list of chemical substances are all potential causes to warrant a drug screening when dealing with family law. On a list of potential reasons for divorce, substance abuse comes in at number three. However, despite being dwarfed by acts of unfaithful indiscretion and just simply not being right for one another, substance abuse may be number one in the “most damaging” category. Substance abuse evaluation plays a key factor in decision making by the courts especially when a child is involved. Many people question what the deciding factors are on the path to these stipulations with family courts.

Cause for Alarm

Before any custody is awarded or visitation time limits are imposed, preliminary measures are always in place to assure children end up in the safest situation for them. If the subject arises that a parent potentially has a substance abuse problem, the court first requires evidence to back these claims up. This evidence may include, but is not limited to, the opposite parent’s testimony (or other family member), and past police reports or records pertaining to substance abuse arrests or counseling and rehab history. If the evidence shows there is reason to believe the parent is partaking in continued or regular usage of drugs or alcohol, the courts are within their rights to require regular or random drug and alcohol screenings.

The Screening Process

All substance abuse evaluations must follow all guidelines outlined in health and privacy laws. The most common method of collection is through urine as law outlines the test be completed in the least intrusive way possible. In the event of a positive drug screen, the test is sent to a lab to determine the exact levels of chemical substance that caused the positive marker. Based on these levels and last estimated usage, the court then makes a decision on how to proceed with the custody hearing. In most cases some form of treatment is written in as a stipulation, with an assessment test determining the level of this treatment. In the majority of situations, no permanent decision is made in custody or visitation until a clear conclusion is reached to determine the progress of the parent in question. Often times once a parent does complete a requirement, the visitation privileges are given in segments. Supervised visitation at a neutral site may come first, and then supervised in home, and on to unsupervised if the parent continues to meet requirements.

Lasting Effects

Every state is different in their methods of procedure taken when it comes to substance abuse evaluations. At any rate, it is always done with the best interests of the child in mind. The effects of substance in a family a situation are long lasting, and these vigilant steps are absolutely appropriate for these cases.

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