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Drug Test for Child Custody and DCS

If you are involved in a family court case or a DCS case, you may be told to take a drug test.  A drug test is very common in family court.  DCS (Department of Child Safety) in Arizona will often demand a drug test of parents whose rights DCS is attacking.


If you are reading this, it may be because you have been told to drug test.  You may have been told to submit for a hair test, fingernail test or urine test.  What are the differences?

  • Hair test:  A hair test can extend the results back for 90 days.  Hair grows about 1/2 inch per 30 days.  So, 1.5 inches can test your hair for about 90 days.
  • Fingernail test:  Fingernails give results for up to six months.
  • Urine test:  A urine test may only give you results for the last few days, or up to one week.


If you change your composition of your hair, nails or urine, then the test results may show an attempt to hide the evidence in your body.  A ten panel or five panel test could be required for family court or for a DCS case.


DCS will send you to a DCS contracted laboratory for a drug test. DCS will organize the drug test and will pay for it. We suggest you look this gift horse in the mouth, because DCS will send you to a DCS chosen laboratory. Is DCS’s chosen laboratory or provider actually reliable? DCS contracts with vendors. DCS vendors may rely on DCS referrals for income. If DCS is paying a laboratory for 50% or more of the business that the laboratory receives, you may have concerns the laboratory is aligned with DCS. You may consider that DCS is the reason that the provider may be in business.


Be careful, because some DCS contracted laboratories around the country have caused problems for parents.  Here are a few examples:

Utah’s DCFS stops using drug testing company following KSL reports on claims of false positives


Or, consider the Department of Justice Fraud investigation after an Averhealth employee testified that many results were wrong:

The DOJ investigation gathered information about court testimony, given by Averhealth’s former lab director Sarah Riley in 2021, that up to 30 percent of the results reported to the state of Michigan’s child welfare agency were wrong, both false positives or false negatives. As VICE News previously reported, Riley testified Averhealth was botching the quality controls that ensure lab instruments are properly calibrated. The company denies those claims.


Moshier Law does not cite this claim because we assert an opinion about Averhealth or its results. Moshier Law cites this opinion because Moshier Law believes DCS Arizona is capable of sending parents to a laboratory knowing that the parents’ results could be wrong.  DCS Arizona zealously advocates to sever parents’ rights.


What if you are on medication? If you are on medication for ADHD, could your test result in positive for methamphetamine use?  Obtain written copies of all prescriptions for any laboratories.  It is not enough to bring the bottle of prescription pills.  You will want to give your drug test provider the actual prescriptions you are taking.


If you are doing a drug test with DCS, then you are right to take a more focused look at whether you can trust DCS. The reason you want to question DCS is simple.  DCS Arizona successfully severs (terminates) 5 families out of every 100 families it investigates. DCS Arizona has the highest severance rates of any state in the United States.


One recent development is that some laboratories used by DCS may use LCMS methods.  Other laboratories use GCMS methods.  GCMS and LCMS are very important when DCS is evaluating a prescription drug and how it interacts with your test.


Some courts have stopped working with companies for fear of inaccurate results on drug testing.  For example, Utah courts
There are common LCMS problems that make this type of testing less accurate.  GCMS testing does not have these problems. GCMS is known among laboratories to achieve greater chromatographic resolution. In chemical analysis, chromatography is a laboratory technique for the separation of a mixture into its components. The “Chromatographic” separation is a physical method of separation.  Chromatographic separation distributes components to separate between two phases, one stationary (stationary phase), the other (the mobile phase) moving in a definite direction. However, Chromatographic separation can only be used to identify volatile compounds with a low molecular weight.


If your family court case or DCS case require that you present evidence about a laboratory testing method that could lead to inaccurate results, then you may require an expert witness.


One thing we suggest is finding the resources to take a same-day test in a different laboratory than the laboratory DCS uses. The laboratory selected as an alternative for a drug testing site should be a laboratory that will use GCMS testing. Your prescriptions – all of them – need to be carried with you in paper form by hand to show the laboratory what prescriptions to account for. You want to test the same day in the same manner to reveal whether the DCS contracted laboratory resulted in a false positive.

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