In a word, yes, drug tests can be ordered, but they do not have unfettered discretion to order tests at their whim. The cases in New York have held that when the physical and mental state of a parent is in question the New York Civil Practice Law and Rules can support a test request. Case law helps to outline situations where getting drug tests in custody and family law cases are allowed and not.
The court required hospitals to produce medical records of a mother pertaining to her treatment for alcohol and drug dependency in DeBlasio v. DeBlasio, 187 A.D.2d 551 (2nd Dept. 1992). In that case the records were sought from three different hospitals that were not themselves parties to the case. The reasoning cited by the court for the production was that the mother’s interests in confidentiality were outweighed by the need of protecting the children’s well being.
In the case of Burgel v. Burgel, 141 A.D.2d 215 (2nd Dept. 1988), the court ordered a mother to go to a doctor’s office to give hair samples for drug testing. In this case the father, in a divorce, alleged that the mother was using cocaine. The mother admitted past use but claimed she was currently clean. The court held that in a custody dispute the mental and physical conditions of the parents were at issue and the information was relevant to determine parental fitness and whether the mother was being honest about her current use. The past use of drugs and the children’s best interest were stressed by the court as justifying the test. Continue reading ›