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Dallas parents question court drug tester's qualifications

Parents who fail court-ordered drug tests risk the chance to be with their children. Texas family court judges rely on specialists to conduct drug tests and translate results. But at least one Dallas County father believes the expert whose testimony caused him to lose visitation rights is not a qualified authority.

A lawsuit was filed against a drug tester used by North Texas courts in more than 700 child custody and visitation cases over the last 30 years.

More than one Dallas County noncustodial parent has accused the tester of wrongly naming them as drug users. One father insists the drug tester created unnecessary distance from his child. The parent was limited to monthly, supervised eight-hour visits with his son after being labeled a drug user.

Repeat tests during the next three months were all negative. Apparently, the drug tester influenced the judge's decision by claiming the father was watering down his urine

.

An independent toxicologist said the test did not appear to be diluted. The drug tester's lawyer claims the toxicologist applied federal standards, not family court rules.

Texas parents who correct drug-using behavior to meet court requirements are dependent upon negative drug tests to stay connected with their children. An incorrect drug test or interpretation can limit or sever the bond the noncustodial parent has with a child.

A drug tester's testimony, qualified by experience or expertise, carries a heavy weight with family court judges. Some North Texas parents feel a commonly-used court drug tester is not up to the job.

Source: kens5.com, "Family courts drug test 'expert' faces new criticism," Brett Shipp, July 10, 2012

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