Drug Testing In the Family Court of Australia has become a common occurrence. This can be attributed to a significant rise in the number of parenting disputes involving allegations that parents are exposing their children to their substance abuse.
In parenting matters involving drug abuse, the Court will often make orders that the party allegedly using the drugs must regularly be drug tested. A failure to comply with these orders or a positive drug test result will mean that parents contact with the children will be reduced on an interim basis, and the likelihood of unsupervised contact with that parent will be greatly diminished.
What Happens When One Party Alleges The Other Is Using?
When it comes to drug testing in the Family Court of Australia, the primary consideration in all parenting disputes is doing what is in the child’s best interests.
Accordingly, when one party makes an allegation that the other is using and exposing the children to their drug use, the Court will have regard to the primary consideration in all parenting matters, which is:
‘The need to protect the child from physical or psychological harm from being subject to, or exposed to abuse, neglect or family violence’.
If there are allegations of drug abuse involved, the Court will often consider implementing safety measures to ensure that the child is not subjected to any risks. Accordingly, the Court will require a parent to do any of the following:
- That a parent must not be under the influence of illicit substances;
- That a parent is needed to be tested regularly for any drugs;
- That a parent is to be tested for drugs randomly; and
- That a parent is required to have a hair follicle test.
The Types of Drug Testing In The Family Court Of Australia
Hair Follicle Testing: A hair follicle test is a form of drug testing in the Family Court of Australia that produces more accurate results than other drug testing methods.
A hair follicle test involves a sample of hair being taken from a person’s head. This type of test can determine a person’s drug patterns for up to three months and can detect multiple drugs. The cost associated with this form of testing is significant in contrast to other methods, and so the Court may order that the costs be shared between the parties.
Alcohol Testing: In cases where a party drinks excessively, the Court may order a blood test to review their ability to function and any liver damage. A higher level of liver damage is often indicative of more alcohol abuse over a more extended period.
Additionally, the Court may order EtG testing, which involves taking a urine sample to detect any alcohol use within five days of the testing period.
In instances where one parent abuses alcohol, parenting orders can often specify that alcohol testing will occur at particular times. Alternatively, testing may occur at the other party’s request or by the request of an independent children’s lawyer (ICL) if they are suspicious of any alcohol use.
Urine Analysis: A urine analysis is the most common form of testing for illicit substance use. These tests can be ordered to be conducted regularly or at random times based on any suspicion.
Although urine analysis is less costly compared to a hair follicle test, it is not as effective. This is because different drugs will remain in a person’s system for different periods. Accordingly, urine analysis is not ideal in some situations.
What Happens If You Test Positive?
A positive drug test result will almost always result in a reduction in that parent’s time with a child or could mean that their visits with their child need to be supervised.
Depending on the severity of the drug use and the surrounding circumstances, these orders are usually made on an interim basis until the final hearing.
The number of drug tests that can be requested is somewhat limited. This is to ensure that the process is not abused. An ICL’s request or the other parent or guardian’s request for a drug test must be made in writing. Accordingly, the drug test sample from that request will need to be provided within a particular time. If the party required to undertake the drug tests fails to give a drug test sample, this will be considered the same as testing positive in the eyes of the Court.
Importance of Seeking Legal Advice
When discussing matters such as drug testing in the Family Court of Australia, it is essential to remember that exposing children to illicit drug use is a significant factor in determining children’s parenting arrangements.
If you require any advice concerning drug testing in the Family Court of Australia, please do not hesitate to contact our team today. We are always happy to help.
Here at JB Solicitors, we’ll make the process as pain-free as possible. We have fixed-fee pricing for family law, giving you a clear sense of the costs from the start, and we will be sure to help you out every step of the way.
With years of experience under our belt, we pride ourselves on making each client’s family law experience as positive as possible.
Contact JB Solicitors today to speak with one of our friendly and experienced family lawyers.
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