Divorce Lawyers Guiding You Through the Maze of Drug Tests in Divorce in Tinton Falls, Manalapan, Sea Bright, Lakewood, and Towns in Southern New Jersey
There are many reasons couples divorce, but one of the most complicated and difficult may be when one spouse has a substance abuse problem. Substance abuse can create many issues in a marriage, from taking money away from the family’s needs to putting the spouse and children’s health in danger due to used needles or drugs left where children can find them. When someone has made the difficult decision to divorce their spouse because of a drug addiction, they also have to make another difficult decision: should I bring their addiction to the court’s attention? From custody to asset division to visitation, one parent’s addiction can significantly impact the decisions a judge might make in a divorce.
At Bronzino Law Firm, we possess comprehensive knowledge of the intricacies involved in custody and divorce proceedings, ensuring a smooth and efficient resolution of your divorce. We serve clients in Beach Haven, Berkeley, Brick, Point Pleasant, Toms River, Rumson, or elsewhere in Monmouth and Ocean County, NJ. Our track record includes successful support for numerous clients seeking drug testing and aiding clients in contesting unjustified requests for such testing. For more detailed information, contact our team of family lawyers today at (732) 812-3102.
Can Drug Addiction Impact a No Fault Divorce in New Jersey?
New Jersey is a no-fault state for divorce. This means that couples do not need any reason other than irreconcilable differences as their grounds for divorce. However, even though most divorces are no-fault, New Jersey does allow for fault-based divorces in certain instances. Drug or alcohol abuse is one of those instances. However, in order to pursue a fault-based divorce on the grounds of a substance abuse issue, there must be sufficient evidence of this substance abuse issue presented to the court.
Even if an individual opts for a no-fault divorce, substance abuse may still be addressed as it can still impact decisions such as child custody, visitation, and even the division of joint assets. Therefore, they would still need to provide evidence of the alleged addiction in order to make requests such as supervised visitation or sole custody of children.
Petitioning for a Drug Test During NJ Divorce Proceedings
Generally, requesting a drug test can happen at any time during a New Jersey divorce. However, more recent substance use or evidence of immediate irreparable risk of harm to the children may be grounds for a temporary restraining order and emergency custody order, whereas evidence of substance use from months ago may only be grounds for drug testing to see if the spouse is still using drugs. Therefore, the sooner a substance abuse problem is brought up and a drug test is requested, the easier it will be to convince the court to order the drug test.
There are several types of drug tests that can be ordered, including body hair (some drugs are detectable for 7 to 12 months after use, head hair (detectable up to 3 months after use), nails (detectable 8 to 12 months after use), fingerprints (detectable 3 to 5 months after use), urine (detectable from a few days to a few weeks, blood (detectable up to 3 weeks), and, finally, breath tests, which can only prove intoxication at the time of the test. When requesting drug testing because one spouse has an addiction, it is important to consider that there may be a need for ongoing testing.
In some cases, if one spouse requests drug testing for the other, the court may simply order the drug test. These tests are usually done at the expense of the requesting spouse as a way to ensure that people do not try to force their spouses to undergo unnecessary drug testing just to be difficult. However, if the tested spouse tests positive, they will often be ordered to pay for the test themselves. It is also important to note that when one spouse requests a drug test, the other often requests one as well. The judge will often order both spouses to be tested when both request it.
Proving the Need for Drug Testing in a Divorce Case
When couples divorce, there is often anger, frustration, bitterness, and resentment between them. When these feelings are present, one or both spouses may be tempted to lie and claim the other has a substance addiction just to make things more difficult for them. For this reason, the court will not simply order drug tests because one party claims the other has a substance abuse problem. Instead, the court requires that there is evidence to back up the claim.
There are several types of evidence that individuals can look for to show the court and attempt to prove a spouse’s drug or alcohol abuse, such as medical records indicating child endangerment, overdoses, or other indications of drug or alcohol abuse. Photos, voicemails, text messages, social media posts, emails, or any other evidence that either directly or indirectly points to a drug or alcohol abuse problem can also be very relevant and useful. Statements or testimony from friends, family members, colleagues, or others who have knowledge of the spouse’s substance abuse problem can be presented in court. Finally, criminal records that show arrests or convictions for drugs, domestic violence or other violent incidents will be relevant to prove that drug testing is needed.
Proven Substance Abuse and its Influence on Family Law Matters
There are many factors that are considered when determining child custody and visitation as well as asset division. The best interests of the children must be considered when deciding child custody and visitation, which means that positive drug tests may have a significant impact on these decisions. However, a hair test showing marijuana use sometime in the last few months may not carry quite as much weight as a blood test that indicates the individual used meth or heroin within the last week. This is why it is imperative to bring up the substance abuse issue and request drug testing as close to the alleged use as possible.
Many people are surprised to realize that a drug or alcohol addiction can also impact the division of joint assets. Addictions require the individual suffering from them to consistently use the substance to which they are addicted, and these substances cost money. At the same time, the person suffering from the addiction is often trying desperately to keep it a secret. Therefore, they often spend substantial amounts of money or squander assets that might otherwise have been divided during the divorce. If an individual can prove that their spouse squandered assets or spent substantial amounts of the family’s money on drugs or alcohol, a judge may distribute the remaining assets differently to give the spouse without the substance abuse problem more of the assets and less to the one with the problem because they already spent or sold assets they might have otherwise received.
TASC Assessments in Divorce Cases
The judge may also order Treatment Accountability for Safer Communities (TASC) evaluation and risk assessment. This usually involves drug testing and is used to determine how substance abuse should impact the divorce proceedings and in particular, child custody. If TASC is ordered, it is often done under a protective order so that it is not public record.
Find Answers to Drug Testing and Divorce Questions from our Family Lawyers in Monmouth and Ocean County NJ
Collecting evidence of a drug or alcohol abuse problem and presenting it to the court may seem easy enough to do. However, if not properly authenticated, the other person may claim that the evidence has been altered or forged. Additionally, some evidence, such as medical records, may not be freely available for you to collect.
A New Jersey divorce lawyer at Bronzino Law Firm, LLC can assist you by sending the appropriate documents to request evidence, such as medical records. We may also guide you as to what other types of evidence to look for, how to interact with your spouse to avoid confrontation, and petitioning the court to order drug testing for your spouse.
With over a decade since our firm’s founding, divorce attorney Peter J. Bronzino, Esq. may also assist you in pursuing sole custody and/or seeking supervised visitation for your spouse with your children. If you have more questions or would like representation to assist you in bringing drug testing into your divorce in Freehold, Bay Head, Red Bank, Asbury Park, Jackson, Manchester, or elsewhere in Ocean and Monmouth Counties, consult with our team of knowledgeable and experienced New Jersey divorce attorneys today. Call (732) 812-3102 for a confidential free consultation.