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How Do Court-Ordered Drug Tests Work?

court ordered drug test | Justice Family Lawyers

Drug testing comes up a lot in parenting disputes. This is because the court may order parents to undertake drug testing for the welfare of a child or one of the parties involved will request the other party undertake a drug test in family court.

In this blog, we cover the question – how do court-ordered drug tests work?

The Reason a Court Orders Drug Tests


In parenting and custodial matters, the court is primarily concerned with the welfare of children and their best interest, as outlined in section
60CC of the Family Law Act.

If it comes to the court’s attention that one of the parents may expose the child to harm due to the use of illicit substances, it will order the parties involved to undergo a drug test.

Usually, the court becomes aware of potential harm to a child because of drug use because of the ‘Notice of Risk’ or  ‘Notice of Child Abuse, Family violence or Risk of Family Violence’ document that an involved party files along with their application or response. 

So, if your relationship has broken down and you suspect that your partner may pose a risk to your child because of drug use, you can inform the court in your application.

Also read: Contravention of Court Orders

Court-Mandated Drug Testing: Steps and Standards

The kind of drug test or tests the court can order individuals to take will vary according to the drug they want to test for.

These can include:

  • Urinalysis or urine testing – this helps the court determine if there has been any recent drug use or alcohol abuse
  • EtG testing – this test determines if there has been any short-term alcohol abuse
  • Blood testing – this test helps determine if there is a history of alcoholism by analyzing the health of the person’s liver
  • Hair follicle testing – this test reveals if a person has used a particular drug in the last 90 days.

Collectively these tests determine the use of:

  • Alcohol (abuse)
  • Amphetamine
  • Methamphetamine
  • Ecstasy
  • Marijuana
  • Cocaine
  • Opiates

Also read: Losing Credibility in Family Court: The Downward Spiral in Australian Legal Battles

Positive Results on Court-Ordered Drug Tests: Next Steps

A positive result on a court-ordered drug test does not automatically mean that a parent will lose custody of their child. The court will usually consider each family matter on a case-by-case basis.

However, it is important to note that returning a positive result on a court-ordered test doesn’t yield favourable results. Drug use can impact a parent’s capacity to care for a child and may even expose the child to harm.

Possible Scenarios

  • The court differentiates between drug addiction and recreational drug use. If the parent engages in recreational drug use, the court will determine the best course of action based on the well-being of the child.
  • If one parent abuses substances, the court may order the child to live with the other parent. The parent that abuses drugs may have visitation rights that may be supervised. They may also need to undergo periodic drug testing that must be complied with as specified by the court.
  • If both parents abuse substances, the court will decide as to whom the child should live with. Both parents will be ordered to undergo regular drug testing. These orders need to be complied with within the specified time frame.

It is important to note that a refusal to get tested for drug use results in the court assuming a positive result is returned.

If you would like to learn more about court-ordered drug tests, please contact us here for a private consultation.

4 thoughts on “How Do Court-Ordered Drug Tests Work?”

    1. Hi Julian the responsiblity of setting up the drug test is on you if you have been ordered to do a drug test. If you want a more detailed consultation about this please get in touch with our office.

  1. Mandy Cocklebiddy

    Hello, I am dealing with a very complex issue regarding my child and in due for a court date, They have conducted a urinalysis 4x this week. Is that legal?

    1. Hi, the amount and frequency of court-mandated drug tests you are required to perform would depend on the nature of your case and the specific court orders in place. It is recommended that you speak to an experienced family lawyer to better understand your rights.

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