NSW Father Using Drugs - Custody of Children?

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14 October 2014
Hi all.

My de facto 5-year-old daughter was drawing pictures the other night as kids do. When asked about a strange but detailed picture, she told us that this is what daddy smokes with (very good pic of a bong). On further questioning, we decided to record her answer as the detail was shocking. She explained in full detail how daddy gets the stuff out of the cigarette puts it in a bowl with the other stuff and cuts it all up with scissors. She goes on to explain how its put in the pipe in the bottle, he lights the fire and the smoke goes in the bottom of the bottle. How his friends all take turns, how they do it 'aaallllllll day and night even when I'm having breakfast' in the lounge, the kitchen etc etc. She spoke in detail about going to friend's houses and doing it there, going to the snow and doing it there.

The detail is both shocking and amazing. The whole process is described in full (eg. He has to put his thumb on the little hole.) 13 disturbing minutes of recording.

We always knew he had a smoke, has for years (drugs). He previously had a court order not to drink or smoke in front of her and an AVO (restraining order) which has since expired. He has managed to convince my partner he would never do drugs in front of the child, but this has proven it all to be far worse then we could ever imagine.

Now what do we do? We have spoken to him and he says he won't do it in front of her again. We called DOCS (Human Services), who suggested the local courthouse, who suggested Relationships Australia, who suggested Legal Access, who then suggested Relationships Australia and they sent us back to Legal Access and we got a booking in 3 weeks time.

Trouble is, what can we do for 3 weeks? He is driving with her in the car and heavily using in front of her. Everyone just advises her to not allow her daughter to go back until custody of children court orders are in place but that's going to take a long time and who knows what he will do in that time. He has a bad temper, he believes we can't stop him from having her and is making all sorts of indirect threats. What can we do now?
Sorry to ramble but it's stressing my partner out and I thought more info the better

Thanks for any help or advice.


Well-Known Member
19 April 2014
Hi @taylor
It sounds like you're on the right path to help resolve the issue.
Ultimately, the interests of the child are what is paramount - and should be taken into account in all decisions.

I'm a bit confused, you said they had a court order in place, and then 'until court orders are in place' - court orders generally don't expire until a child is an adult? (as opposed to AVOs that usually have a set period).

Have a look at these Family Law Court pages that relate to orders about children:

Remember that parenting orders and consent orders are legally binding as they're lodged with the court, as opposed to parenting plans that are not.
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Hi Taylor,

It is also important for you to be aware that the court my not necessarily deny custody to your ex simply on account of drug use. A recent case in Qld illustrated this recently. The court can't really force the parents to parent their child in a certain way, but they will make orders with respect to various circumstances concerning the child's welfare and best interests. As such they may decide that having some relationship and contact with both parents, despite one being a drug user, is in their best interests than shielding them from the drug use. Having said that, if the environment that your ex is placing your children in is harming them in some way, then this will obviously be taken seriously by the court.


Well-Known Member
23 July 2014
I would strongly advise against withholding time between the child and her father. Doing so is practically a cardinal sin by court standards.

You may wish to read this decision handed down recently: Coghlan & Craft [2014] FCCA 2266. It's a very good example of how the court treats allegations of drug use in parenting matters.
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