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Medical Marijuana and Child Custoday

“But I have a medical marijuana card.” More and more the issue of medical marijuana use is raised when dealing with child custody battles and whether the medical marijuana user would be entitled to an equal child visitation parenting plan, or something less.  California and thirteen other states have made medical marijuana use legal, but many family law judges are continuing to look at the “best interest of the child” standard, and marijuana use becomes a personal, subjective issue. Clearly, there is a division between those who support medical marijuana and those who do not.  Parents and activists who support the use argue that no parent should be punished for using a legal, doctor-recommendation to treat their medical condition.  The argument stands that, medical marijuana use is no different than prescription medication use, used to treat medical conditions. The other side of the coin, which is heavily supported by social workers, mediators, and many judges, oppose having children exposed to marijuana for any reason.  Some family law judges recognize the law and treat medical marijuana like any other prescription or like alcohol and make orders to refrain from use prior to and while exercising child visitation.  Other judges have demanded letters from the treating physician, explaining that all other medical avenues have failed, and medical marijuana is the last and only resort, thereby giving in to the use with very strict provisions in the child custody orders. Typical child custody / child visitation order have provisions that neither parent will consume alcohol (or excessive alcohol) within so many hours prior to the child’s arrival, nor during the visit.  These...

Mixing Religions and Child Visitation

Faith-Mixing & Children We live in a society where inter-racial marriages and inter-faith couples are the norm.  Seeing a man and woman in a committed relationship, whether married or not, is no longer reserved to those of the same race, nationality, ethnicity, heritage, culture, or religion.  But subjecting children to the combination of two polar opposite lives at the time of divorce, and expecting peace and harmony, is nonsense. When we adults meet, whether it’s love at first sight or a prolonged encounter over months of interaction with the other person, we seldom discuss issues that will impact our children forever.  More often, people become parents without discussing important issues like, how are we going to raise our child?  When mom is Jewish and dad is Catholic; or when dad is Muslim and mom is Christian; or when one parent is Jehovah Witness and the other is agnostic, which faith does the child follow during a child custody battle? Parents have a First Amendment right under the United States Constitution to practice the religion of their choice.  But the Court is often caught in the middle; trying to determine the “best interest of the child,” while balancing the competing concerns of the religious beliefs of the parents.  Sometimes, the Court will defer to the child’s wishes or the child’s past practices.  Because the United States Supreme Court has not yet decided a case involving religious upbringing and child custody, there is no uniform law that California must follow. However, there are three standards that are accepted nationwide and other states have handled some of these issues.  If there is...

Hair Follicle Drug Test in Child Custody Proceeding

Can I request a drug test for the other parent?  What about a hair follicle test? The problem of drug use by one of the parents in a child custody battle is frequently an issue that family law attorneys must deal with.  First and foremost, as an attorney, I want to ensure that the children are safe.  Often times, parents pointing the drug use finger have some past drug use as well, and demanding a drug test can be fatal. It is not possible, in California, to force a parent to take a hair follicle test for drug detection.  The California Family Code is clear on what a judge may order and how the testing may be completed; and hair follicle testing is not an option.  However, hair follicle testing can be ordered when the parents agree to submit to the testing. When the issue of drug use is brought up during a hearing, one attorney may approach the subject and suggest the other party be willing to submit to a hair follicle test, in order to resolve the issue.  If the judge asks the parent if they are willing to participate, they usually comply out of fear of “looking guilty.”  This compliance, or stipulation to drug test, takes the parent outside of the Family Code limitations and permits the hair follicle test to move forward and places the parent at a significant risk, if they have used any substance in the last 180 days. I would not recommend that any of my clients stipulate to a hair follicle test, unless they are 100% sure they are drug free. ...