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Child custody and hair follicle testing

Allegations of marijuana use in Virginia child custody and visitation disputes can have a major impact on a person's parental rights. When such allegations are made, judges sometimes order the parent to have a urine screen or hair follicle test completed.

A recent study completed by the Institute of Forensic Science in Germany shows potential issues with hair follicle tests. According to the researchers, hair follicle tests can give false positives for marijuana in certain cases.

When a parent has been around someone who smokes marijuana, they can then have a positive hair follicle test even if they don't smoke marijuana themselves. Second-hand contact with marijuana smoke can lead to such a false positive, as can contact with the user's hands or sweat. Parents who have child custody and visitation hearings scheduled should thus be careful about socializing with people who smoke marijuana while their cases are pending. In some cases, a positive marijuana test can result in court-supervised visits. Some judges may even order that the parent have no visitation at all when they have a positive test.

Child custody disputes are often conflict-filled, with parents hurtling accusations against each other in an effort to win custody of their child. A parent who either smokes marijuana or has been around others who do may want to discuss it with their attorney. This can help the attorney to better prepare to advocate for the client in the event the other parent tries to raise the issue. If a drug test is ordered by the court, the attorney may be able to successfully argue against the court's requiring a hair follicle test, especially given the results of this study.

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