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Alcohol testing in family law matters

Brittany Colussi
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30 May 2022

Alcohol abuse is often a very important issue in a family law matter.  The abuse of alcohol can lead to issues of risk in some circumstances and decrease the capacity to parent effectively. 

Where there is evidence of alcohol abuse and potential risk to children the Court may make orders that one or both parties undertake alcohol testing.

How is alcohol abuse tested?

There are three main tests that a person may undertake to determine whether there is any alcohol use or abuse.  While alcohol abuse is difficult to define, it is generally accepted that drinking in excess of 4 to 6 standard drinks per day will evidence chronic alcohol abuse.

  • Urine Test - Ethyl Glucuronide (EtG)

A urine test can be used to evidence whether alcohol has been ingested by a person in the previous 3 to 4 days.  Generally, EtG will not be present if a person has not ingested any alcohol, or if they have ingested minimal alcohol over the 3 to 4 day period.

  • Liver Function Test (LFT)

A liver function test can be used to evidence either alcohol abuse or abstinence.  The liver function test is a blood test.  This test will generally demonstrate excessive alcohol consumption where there are elevated levels of GGT, AST, ALP or ALT enzymes in a person’s blood.

  • Carbohydrate Deficient Transferrin Test (CDT)

A Carbohydrate Deficient Transferrin test can be used to evidence either alcohol abuse or abstinence.  This test is most commonly used in family law matters to evidence a decreasing usage of alcohol.  The CDT test is also a blood test.  The test delivers a result in percentage terms.

If you have been asked to complete alcohol testing in your family law matter, or you think that the other party should undergo alcohol testing, you should make an appointment to obtain legal advice.  We encourage you to contact our office to make an appointment with one of our solicitors to obtain advice on your situation on 07 4963 2000 or via our online contact form.