Use of Drug Tests in Divorce

By Andrew VanNess

Attorney, Cordell & Cordell

Drug testing is often a point of contention in divorce and particularly modification cases. A client may want to know if his ex-wife, or his ex-wife’s new partner, can be forced to submit to drug tests if he suspects them of using drugs, particularly when they have parenting time with the children.

If there is an issue of drug use, how big of a role does it play in determining or modifying custody or visitation?

If you’re worried about drug use, a party may request that a party opponent take a drug test in many states. Specifically, the state I practice in – Missouri – allows drug testing pursuant to Missouri Civil Procedure Rule 60 (a) (1) provides:

In an action in which the mental condition, physical condition, or blood relationship of a party, or of an agent or a person in the custody or under the legal control of a party, is in controversy, the court in which the action is pending may order the party (i) to submit to physical, mental, or blood examinations by physicians or other appropriate licensed health care providers or (ii) to produce for such examinations such party’s agent or the person in such party’s custody or legal control.

Unfortunately, the party opponent’s significant other cannot be subject to the court’s order under this provision unless they are also party to the action. It is typical that the party requesting the drug test will also be ordered to submit to a drug test.

A positive drug test of an opposing party can be very beneficial and can be the deciding factor in a custody and visitation case. However, it is does not guarantee that a party will be victorious in a custody or visitation matter. The court looks at many factors and statutory provisions when making its decision.

If a party tests positive for drugs, a Guardian ad Litem (GAL) may be appointed if the court feels that the drug use has a negative impact on the children. A GAL is an attorney that is appointed by the curt to represent the children in an action. A GAL may also be appropriate if you suspect that your ex-wife’s significant other is using drugs in the presence of your child.

If you suspect that your ex or that any person that is in a relationship with your ex is using drugs it is best to contact a qualified domestic relations attorney that is licensed in your state to discuss all facts and issues that are applicable to the laws of your state and to your matter.

Cordell & Cordell has men’s divorce lawyers located nationwide.


divorce lawyer Andrew VanNess

Andrew VanNess is an Associate Attorney in the Kansas City, Missouri office of Cordell & Cordell, P.C. where he practices family law. Mr. VanNess is licensed to practice in Missouri. Mr. VanNess received his B.S. in Geography with a minor in Biology from Northwest Missouri State University, and his Juris Doctor from the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law.

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