Does Drug Testing Happen in Family Law Cases?
Sometimes in parenting matters allegations of drug and alcohol use are made by one parent against the other parent. The best way to either “prove” or “defend” such allegations is to have the parent undergo drug/alcohol testing. So how does it work?
In such matters it is important to consider: which test to obtain? How to interpret results? What orders to seek for drug testing? And most importantly, how the test results may affect your parenting case?
Which test to obtain
- CDT testing: to test for alcohol;
- Urine testing: to test for prescription and illegal drugs/alcohol (a less accurate way in some cases);
- EtG testing (hair testing): used to measure alcohol consumption (can test for use in the preceding 3 months);
- Hair follicle testing: a more accurate way to test for a variety of illegal and prescription drugs and can test for use in the preceding 3 months.
Determining which test to obtain can be tricky, so we recommend speaking with a drug testing specialist to determine the right one for a particular matter.
It is essential that the court understands the results of an alcohol/drug test. Therefore, having an expert prepare and interpret a report will allow the test results to be best interpreted and tendered into evidence.
Orders to seek for drug testing
Orders sought will depend on the type of test required. If it is hair follicle testing you should obtain an order restraining the parent who is being tested from cutting or colouring their hair prior to the sample being obtained. Urine testing will need to be undertaken randomly, so as to ensure that the person being tested cannot “prepare” themselves in a way that may affect the results. If allegations in the matter involve ICE, careful consideration should be given to having the child tested, given residue can be found in and around ICE users.
Given the myriad of tests available, it would be helpful to the court if a parent seeks legal advice when preparing for court to ensure the relevancy of the test being sought. Furthermore, if the allegation on alcohol/drug use is being made against you, you should seek legal advice about whether undergoing testing without an order in preparation for court would better support your case.
How the outcome of drug testing can affect your parenting case
If you are seeking to rely on the other parent’s use of alcohol/drugs as to a reason to restrict that parent’s time with the child, you should ensure that your evidence before the court shows:
– how the drug-use affects the child, and;
– if it affects a parent’s ability to care for the child including providing a safe environment.
Alternatively, if you are the parent facing drug/alcohol allegations, ensure your evidence before the court deals with your ability to care for the child and meet the child’s needs satisfactorily, even though you may have a drug/alcohol addiction (in some limited circumstances it is possible for a parent to have a drug/alcohol addiction but still parent in a way that is in the best interests of a child). So yes, drug testing happens in family law cases.
If you would like to discuss your personal circumstances, get in touch with a family law specialist at Michael Lynch Family Lawyers on (07) 3221 4300 or [email protected]