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Friday, June 11, 2010

Drug and Alcohol Evaluations

Frequently in parenting disputes, there are allegation of drug or alcohol abuse. Drinking and/or drug usage is not necessarily an issue to the court unless it affects a persons ability to parent. The court wants to know how it has historically affected their parenting skills. Are they intoxicated around the child? Do they pass out when caring for the child? Does it affect their anger and ability to communicate effectively? Does it affect their judgment? Have their been issued of neglect or abuse in the past due their use? The answers to these types of questions tells the court whether their needs to be restrictions due to their drug or alcohol abuse.

When their are allegations that are denied, and the court does not know for sure, it is not uncommon for the court to order a drug and alcohol evaluation by a state licensed facility. Frequently the court will want the evaluation to include an interview, written questionnaire with collateral contacts (including the opposing party), criminal background check, random monitored U.A.'s, and a written evaluation. The evaluation should be released to both sides, the court, and Family Court Services (if involved).

If the evaluation identifies a problem and gives a recommendation, the court will usually require compliance as a condition to ongoing visitation.

The court is trying to balance the interests of allowing contact between the parent and child with protecting the child's safety. The court will seldom deny visitation. In severe cases, the court can allow supervised visitation only. More likely, the court will enter a restraining order, prohibiting the party from using or being under the influence of alcohol or drugs during, or for 12 hours prior to, any visitation.

The court can also provide that if the other party suspects that the parent is under the influence, that they can demand an immediate U.A., and stop the visit. If the U.A. comes up dirty, there is no visitation until they follow treatment or come back to court. If the U.A. is clean, the requesting party has to pay the cost, and make up visits are to be scheduled immediately.

The Renton law firm of Mogren, Glessner & Roti, represents clients in a variety of family law cases, both contested and uncontested. We have 4 attorneys for you to chose from. Please visit our web page at Renton Divorce Attorneys for more information.


  1. Drug and alcohol test evaluations are conducted for a number of reasons. In particular, schools and companies use these tests as a requirement for admittance. Aside from that, there are also other instances where these tests are mandatory like when acquiring a driver's license or when working overseas.

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