Does North Carolina Family Court Drug Testing Affect Custody?

Drug testing is a part of the family court system. If a parent is ordered to take a drug test, the results may greatly impact custody. Our Charlotte family law attorney at Remington & Dixon explain how family court drug testing affects custody in North Carolina.

Can a Family Court in North Carolina Order Drug Testing of a Parent?

The family court in North Carolina may order drug testing of a parent if they believe it is necessary for the welfare of the child. Under North Carolina statutes § 50-13.2(b), a child custody order must include terms that will best promote the interests and welfare of the child. The court has wide discretion to include any condition that they believe is appropriate.

The court may consider “all relevant factors” when determining what is in the best interests of the child.

A parent’s drug use is one factor that the court may consider, but it is only one factor.

Will the court order drug testing in my case?

Drug testing in a North Carolina family court custody case is both common and uncommon. It is common in the sense that drug tests are used when it is appropriate. However, it is uncommon in that the court will not order drug testing unless it is requested and there is a good reason to order it. Usually, this may mean a parent with a criminal history relating to drug or alcohol use.

The court will look at all the circumstances to decide if alcohol testing is warranted. When the issue is properly before the court, both sides may present evidence and arguments about whether a parent should be ordered to take a drug test.

Can Your Ex Order You to Take a Drug Test for Custody?

The other parent might say, “I’m making you take a drug test to have custody.” However, they are not the ones who decide. Only a court can order a parent to take a drug test as a condition of custody or visitation.

Drug testing is something that you can agree to do. When the court signs the order, the drug test becomes an official court order. However, your ex doesn’t have the power to order you to take a drug test. They can only request the court.

How do I get the other parent ordered to take a drug test in my child custody case?

To have a parent ordered to drug test in a child custody case, you must ask the court. You may bring a court motion or handle the matter through your initial divorce or custody proceedings. See North Carolina statutes § 50-13.5.

What kind of drug testing will the court order?

Most drug testing that is ordered for family court is either a urine screen, hair follicle testing, or breath testing. A urine screen and hair follicle test can test for a wide range of drugs including marijuana. There may be preliminary results, but the specimen may also be sent to a laboratory for processing. An alcohol breath test provides instant results.

The court may structure the testing. For example, the court may order a parent to test before or after visitation. They may order a parent to test regularly. Tests may be ordered indefinitely, or they may phase out over some time. When drug testing is ordered, either party may motion the court to modify or terminate it.

Who Pays for Family Court Drug Testing in North Carolina?

The court will order one or both parents to pay for family court drug testing. If the test is necessary because of a criminal history or other strong evidence of substance abuse, the court will be more likely to have that parent pay for testing. However, if the court orders the tests as a precautionary measure, at the request of the other parent, they may require the requesting parent to pay. Who bears the cost of the test may depend on its outcome.

How Can Family Court Drug Testing Affect Custody?

Family court drug testing may affect custody and visitation. It may be as simple as a court order that says a parent forfeits their parenting time if they test positive for drugs or alcohol. Alternatively, positive drug tests may prompt a modification of who has primary custody or the visitation schedule. Positive drug tests may result in visitation being supervised. Like all other matters in family court, how drug testing affects child custody depends on the best interests of the children.

Can You Refuse Family Court Drug Testing?

You can refuse family court drug testing, but know that it will likely be treated as though you had tested positive for substance use. You may also be held in contempt by the court and risk going to jail for refusing to follow the court order. Your refusal will likely greatly impact your custody and parent time. If the substance abuse testing is burdensome, you may ask the court to modify the requirements.

However, if you want to exercise custody or visitation, you should not refuse family court drug testing mandated by a judge.

Talk to a Family Court Lawyer

Family court drug testing can profoundly impact the custody and visitation of a child. Our skilled divorce lawyer in Charlotte at Remington & Dixon can help you navigate your future. If you have a family court case that involves substance use, we invite you to contact our family court attorney for a consultation about your situation. Contact us online today.


Are consultations free?

While we offer a free consultation on traffic matters, criminal matters, and most professional license defense cases, we charge a fee for family law consultations to personalize our consultations to your specific needs. To learn about our fee structure, please get in touch.

Where can I get legal advice?

We recommend meeting with an attorney. While there is free legal help available for North Carolina residents from pro bono resources for civil matters, and public defenders for criminal cases, the best way to access tailored advice is to hire a lawyer.

Can I hire you if I’m in another state?

This is done on a case by case basis if you are involved in a family law, criminal, or professional disciplinary matter that involves another jurisdiction.



"*" indicates required fields

With a Consultation

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.