Case Study: Father obtains sole custody of children after Mother found abusing drugs

Father and Children
When a Father suspected the Mother of his children to be using methamphetamine, he engaged Ryan & Seton Law to obtain sole custody of the children to ensure their safety.

Client Story

Family Law Matter. Our client was a man in his 40s. He lived on the Central Coast NSW, and his two children, aged five and seven, were living on the Gold Coast with their mother. Those arrangements had been in place since the couple separated in September 2013, and there were no orders in place. 

Our client visited his children on the Gold Coast each and every school holiday period. He began to notice a slow deterioration in the mother’s appearance and in the state of her home. He formed the view that she was using methamphetamine, and became concerned about the safety of the children in the mother’s care.

The Issues

  • Whether it was in the children’s best interests for their primary residence to change from the mother’s house on the Gold Coast to the father’s house on the Central Coast.
  • Whether the mother abused drugs to the extent that her parenting capacity was compromised.
  • Whether the father should have sole parental responsibility in view of the shortcomings he perceived from the mother’s household.

What We Did

We encouraged our client to keep the children in his care after the Christmas school holiday period concluded in 2017.

Thomas filed on behalf of the client an application in court alleging that the mother posed an unacceptable level of risk to the children and sought orders for:

  • Sole parental responsibility
  • Children’s residence to be changed to the Central Coast
  • Children to live with their father and to spend only supervised time with the mother
  • Mother to undergo drug testing

Thomas issued on behalf of the client subpoenas to the QLD and NSW Police, and to the QLD and NSW Departments of Children’s Services.

The Outcome

The subpoena to the QLD police revealed evidence that the mother had an extensive criminal history for drug related offences and had been charged with supplying methamphetamine within the last 12 months (unbeknownst to our client).

The subpoena to the QLD Department of Children’s Services revealed that the mother had recently been under the supervision of that department and had been assessed as a risk (unbeknownst to our client).

The orders for drug and alcohol testing were obtained and the results indicated that the mother was using methamphetamines heavily.

In the face of this evidence, the mother was placed in a position where she had to accept the orders sought by our client.

Orders were then made by consent largely as sought by our client.

The mother indicated to the court that she would bring an application seeking to amend those orders but to date has not done so. The children remain safe living with their father.

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