Drug use & parenting proceedings
Drug use by a parent is a matter that is considered by the family courts when determining what living arrangements are in the best interests of children.
Contact us! Our child custody lawyers Brisbane or child custody lawyers Brisbane Northside will advise you regards how a parent’s drug use can affect the outcome of your parenting matter. We are able to advise you concerning any area of family law and offer complimentary advice during your first call with us.
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In the matter of Lemus & Lemus  in the Federal Circuit Court of Australia, orders had been made in October 2018 for children to live with the Mother and to spend time with the Father.
After evidence emerged of drug use by the Mother where she had been taking cocaine, the Father brought an Application seeking further interim orders for the children not live with him.
The Mother deposed that regards drug use, the last time that she had used cocaine was on 15 and 16 February 2019 when the children were not in her care and that she had also used cocaine in September and December 2018 when the children were not present.
In February 2019, each of the Mother and the Father had undergone drug use testing which returned a negative result for the Father but had shown positive for the mother for cocaine use.
Drug use by the Mother was not in dispute.
The Court considered the terms of section 60CC of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth)
and the two primary considerations which are:
a. The benefit to the children of having a meaningful relationship with both of their parents; and
b. The need to protect the children from physical or psychological harm from being subject to or exposed to abuse, neglect or family violence.
The Court said that it was the need to protect the children which was in issue following the mother’s relapse into drug use and the possible effect that can have on the children if it continues, and what can be done to address the risk of drug use.
Where there is a risk, the Court must decide if the risk amounts to an unacceptable risk. If the risk is unacceptable, the Court looks to whether the risk can be addressed by orders or if it is necessary that there is no contact between the parent who presents the
risk and the children.
In this case, the Court decided that the unacceptable risk of drug use could be handled so that on an interim basis, the children would continue to live with the Mother if the
Mother stopped drug use and to spend time with the Father.
However, the Court said that on the evidence there was a significant risk that the Mother will relapse into drug use. The Mother was continuing on her evidence to see her psychologist and psychiatrist. The Court warned of a complete change of the living arrangements if the Mother is shown to relapse into drug use on further random testing.
The information set out in this blog is not a substitute for legal advice. We recommend that you obtain advice tailored to your particular circumstances from our Brisbane family lawyers or our family lawyers Brisbane Northside.