Unfortunately drug abuse is a common problem facing society
today. Specifically, the use of the drug known as 'ice' has
been referred by to as a widespread epidemic. It is therefore quite
common for allegations about drug abuse to be raised by a parent in
Family Court proceedings.
If a parent alleges that the other parent is abusing illicit
substances in a way that puts a child at risk of harm, the Family
Court will take these allegations very seriously.
Under the Family Law Act 1975, the best interests of
the child are the paramount consideration when making parenting
orders. The Court has the power to order that either one or both
parents undergo drug testing to ascertain whether they have the
capacity to care for the child or pose a risk of harm, even when
these allegations are denied. If you are concerned that your ex is
addicted to drugs and your children are not safe, you should
request drug testing right away. If your ex won't agree, you
can seek orders from the Family Court that they undergo drug
Evidence for Family Court purposes is presented in the form of
Affidavits; however this evidence cannot be tested until a Trial.
The Court may therefore err on the side of caution when allegations
of drug abuse are made and in the interim place the child into the
care of the other parent. Drug testing is an easy and effective way
to gather reliable evidence about whether or not a parent is using
drugs and whether the children are at risk of harm.
How are drugs detected?
Drug testing for Family Court purposes can take a number of
forms. The most common type of drug testing is urinalysis testing
at a pathology laboratory. The collection of a urine sample for
this purpose must adhere to the chain of custody provisions in
accordance with the Australian Standards. These samples need to be
supervised by qualified personnel to ensure there is no possibility
of any cheating. Urinalysis testing is usually requested randomly
by the other party's solicitor.
Another form of drug testing is hair analysis. This involves a
party having a sample of hair extracted from them and tested for
illicit substances. Although these tests can be more expensive, the
benefit is that they can detect the use of illicit substances
dating back a few months. These tests are commonly requested when
it has been alleged that a parent has a very serious and ongoing
How long do drug testing orders last for?
The Court has discretion to determine how long drug testing
orders stay in place and it usually depends on the severity of the
alleged drug problem. Drug testing orders can stay in place for an
indefinite or set period of time. If the other parent's drug
problem is very serious, the Court may want drug testing to
continue for up to a year or more. If the alleged drug use is not
as serious, a party may only be required to undertake drug testing
until six clear tests are received.
What if my ex's drug tests are all coming back
If a parent cannot provide the Court with consecutive clear drug
screens, it may be determined that they have a serious addiction
that could put the child in harm's way. If orders are not
already in place, the Court may consider removing the child from
that drug using parent's care and placing them in the care of
the other parent to ensure that they are not exposed to drug use or
put in harm's way.
At the end of the day, if the other parent cannot show the Court
that they can abstain from drug use whether through clear drug
screens and/or evidence of rehabilitation, it is unlikely that they
will be allowed any unsupervised time with the child.
If you are concerned that your ex may be abusing drugs and
putting your children at risk, contact our expert Family Lawyers
for advice about your options.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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Sect.117 can deal with false statements and knowingly making false allegations of violence could justify a costs order.
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