Court ordered drug testing and its impact on parenting
Australians are known for liking a drink, and increasingly we’re known for “liking” other substances as well. According to Federal Government statistics, 16.4 per cent of Australians used an illicit substance in the past 12 months, with cannabis, ecstasy and amphetamines top of the list.
And while those same statistics also show that many Australians are cutting back on alcohol – the number of ex-drinkers increased from 1.5 million in 2016, to 1.9 million in 2019 – it’s still our most commonly abused drug.
The Family Court has seen a significant rise in cases where one parent – or sometimes both – are too often under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Courts take this matter very seriously and where one parent has been accused of putting the children at risk by consuming, or being under the influence of drugs or alcohol, it’s likely that parent will be viewed as “lacking parental capacity”.
There are a number of ways of testing for drugs that can be ordered by the court. They are:
- Alcohol Ethyl Gluchronide (EtG) Test, most commonly known as a Hair Follicle Test. This is the most comprehensive test, and can determine a person’s pattern of drug use over a period of time, generally up to three months. It’s also the most expensive test, and the costs may be shared between parties.
- Liver Functioning Test (LFT) assesses current liver damage from alcohol abuse and is most useful when used in conjunction with other types of testing.
- The Carbohydrate Deficiency Transferrin (CDT) test can be used if a person has been drinking heavily for the past 10 to 14 days. However gender, age, smoking, previous alcohol dependence and Body Mass Index, may impact results.
- Blood and urine testing can be ordered to be undertaken regularly, or they can be ordered at random.
The Court’s primary consideration will be “the need to protect the child from physical or psychological harm or from being subject to, or exposed to abuse, neglect or family violence.”
A positive drug test may result in the court reducing the parent’s time with the child, as well as any time with the child potentially being supervised. A refusal or failure to comply with a request for a drug test, can also be regarded by the court as being deemed to have failed the test, i.e. as if returning a positive test result. Orders to undergo drug testing can be made on an interim basis, or until the parent returns a negative sample.
If this article has raised any questions for you, get in touch our office today. We offer personalised service for all your family law issues.