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Substance Abuse Testing

Issues concerning substance abuse or alcohol abuse may impact visitation by a non-custodial parent, especially where the behavior is found to jeopardize the child’s best interests or welfare.  Even in these cases, Georgia’s public policy of favoring continued, healthy and loving relationships between the children and both their parents would likely lead a court to grant visitation regardless of these concerns. However, in these situations, a court may order supervised visitation and/or the court may order that one or both parents undergo drug and alcohol testing. To learn more about supervised visitation in Georgia, read our article entitled “Supervised Visitation.”

If one parent suspects the other of drug or alcohol dependency or abuse, that parent may ask the court to order the suspected parent to submit to a drug or alcohol test. It is within the judge’s discretion whether to grant the parent’s request. Additionally, a court may decide to independently order that one or both parents submit to a drug or alcohol test during a pending custody dispute. Normally, a judge will not order that either parent submit to testing unless he or she believes that one or both of the parents seeking custody is abusing drugs or alcohol.

  Practice Pointer - Drug Testing

If your co-parent has a history of drug use, you may agree to include drug testing in the custody or visitation agreement.  For example, you may agree that your co-parent take and pass a drug test before any scheduled visit by the children or you may agree that a certain number of failed tests will result in loss of custody or visitation rights.


If a parent tests positive for drug use, a judge will be very hesitant to grant that parent custody of his or her children as the child may be exposed to illicit drug use, neglected by that parent while he or she is under the influence, or exposed to other criminal behavior. In cases where a parent’s drug test returns positive, a judge may deny them custody, restrict the contact they have with their children by only allowing supervised visits, or deny visitation altogether. In lieu of denying visitation, a court may order a parent who is dependent on illegal drugs or alcohol to refrain from the use of alcohol or illegal drugs in the child's presence and submit to regular alcohol and drug testing

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