I believe the other parent is taking drugs – what can I do?

I believe the other parent is taking drugs – what can I do?

Misuse of illegal drugs is sadly an issue that is commonly raised in disputes between parents over arrangements for their children. But what can you do if you suspect that the other parent of your child is taking drugs?I believe the other parent is taking drugs - what can I do?

Obviously, a parent’s misuse of drugs may put the child in danger. The court will therefore want to know if a parent is taking drugs, and if it finds that they are then that will have a major bearing upon the final order that the court makes.

But the court will not be aware of the issue unless it is informed of it. And the court will not usually just take the word of one party – it will want better evidence than that.


Expert evidence

What the court will ideally want is expert scientific evidence as to whether or not the parent is taking illegal drugs. There are several ways that this can be obtained.

It could, for example, be by way of a simple saliva test. But this will only detect recent drug usage.

A more useful type of test is a hair strand test. This involves a trained sample collector taking a small sample of hair from the subject. The sample is then cut into short lengths, each representing a months-worth of hair growth, with the ‘older’ hair at the tip and the ‘younger’ hair nearer the root. Each length of hair is then tested, and the results can give an indication of the subject’s drug usage over a period of time, up to about six months.

A hair strand test can therefore be a very useful piece of evidence for the court. For example, the parent may have been found to have been using drugs, but then promises to stop. A hair strand test will show whether they have kept their promise.


Getting a testI believe the other parent is taking drugs - what can I do?

So how do you go about getting a test?

Drug testing should take place in accordance with a court order. The first thing you must do therefore is inform the court of your suspicion that the other parent is taking drugs, and ask the court to order a test.

Of course the other parent may not agree to submit to a test. It is important to understand that the court cannot force anyone to submit to a test. However, a person who the court would like to take a test would be well advised to agree to the test, even if they have not taken drugs. If they do not do so then it will look like they have something to hide, and the court could draw an adverse inference.

When the court orders the test it will give detailed directions as to how the test will be carried out, and by who. The directions are designed to ensure in particular that the right person is tested. They will also state who is to pay for the testing to be carried out.


A different order

As mentioned above, if there is evidence that indicates that one parent is taking drugs then that will have a serious bearing upon what kind of final order the court makes.

The court is likely to take the view that the child is not safe in the sole care of that parent. It may therefore order that any contact the parent has with the child should be supervised, or it may even order that there should be no direct contact between the parent and the child, at least until the drug taking has stopped.

Drug taking is a very serious issue in any court proceedings relating to children. If you believe that it is an issue in your case then you should seek expert legal advice.

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