Can illegal drug use impact parenting orders?

30-July-2012 Family Law By Simone Green

In Vokic & Vlass [2012] Fam CA 56 (15 February 2012) issues arose in relation to both the parenting of the children and the parties property interests.

The mother had a history of drug and alcohol abuse. The husband claimed that the wife’s parenting capacity was compromised by her drug and alcohol use.

Fowler J considered evidence from a medical specialist in addiction medicine and a family consultant and made orders enabling the children to spend regular time with the wife subject to orders requiring her to undertake supervised urinalysis and hair follicle testing for illicit drugs. Further orders were made providing that in the event the wife failed to comply with the testing requirements or returned a result that was positive for illicit drugs the wife would spend time with the children for only two hours per fortnight under supervision at a Contact Centre.

The issues to be determined in relation to the property proceedings were; what was a just and equitable re-distribution of the property of the parties having regard to the contributions made by them (as described in s 79 of the Family Law Act) and whether an adjustment under s 75(2) was required.

Contributions were assessed at 80:20 in favour of the wife. The husband received an adjustment of 7 per cent for s75 (2) factors including the imminent termination of the husbands employment, his need to retrain and the wife’s superior earning capacity. Therefore the wife received 73% of the parties’ assets and the husband received 27%.
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