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Alcohol testing within family law proceedings

In some situations, allegations are made between parents as to the consumption of alcohol. Where there are concerns of this nature, often contact between children and the accused parent is limited until clear evidence as to the sobriety of the parent is established.

There are a number of testing methods available to monitor the consumption of alcohol and these tests are available either by voluntary agreement between the parents or they can be ordered by the Court.

At Watson Thomas Solicitors we can advise you as to the ways to protect yourself and any relevant children in situations where alcohol is an issue and we can assist you in arranging testing to clearly establish whether alcohol is being consumed by your ex-partner.

The correct method of testing depends upon the allegations being made – is the person a binge drinker, a constant drinker or unpredictable as to when they do or do not consume alcohol?

Methods of alcohol testing

The most common three methods of testing takes samples from urine, hair and blood and considers the donor’s historic alcohol consumption.

Urine testing - testing for ethanol (the alcohol found in all alcoholic drinks). The test indicates if a donor has ingested alcohol within the 24 hours prior to sample collection. All positive samples are then tested for fermentation to determine whether a positive result is due to the consumption of alcohol or due to a possible medical condition (e.g. diabetes or a bacterial infection).

Hair testing - offers combined testing for ethyl glucuronide (EtG) and the fatty acid ethyl ester (FAEE) ethyl palmitate, which are the markers of alcohol present in hair after the consumption of alcohol. Using the combination of EtG and FAEE testing provides more comprehensive information about chronic excessive alcohol use. Hair can be examined to establish the donor’s alcohol use over the last 3 or 6 month period.

Blood testing – offers combined testing for alcohol present in the blood at the time of testing and a liver function test to determine whether any damage has been caused to the donor’s liver due to previous excessive alcohol consumption.

The above three methods of testing deal with historic alcohol use rather than examining a person’s current or continued alcohol consumption. These methods are also most accurate when commissioned as a combined package rather than choosing one method of testing in isolation.

Breath testing – these tests offer portable testing which provides instant results as to whether the donor has alcohol in their system.

Continuous future testing - a situation often arises when a person’s commitment to remaining abstinent is questioned. An ankle bracelet has been developed to continually monitor a person’s alcohol consumption every 30 minutes. The bracelet is worn around the donor’s ankle and takes a non-invasive reading through the skin every 30 minutes, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week as to whether any alcohol is consumed.

Watson Thomas Solicitors have offices in Fleet, Hampshire and Guildford, Surrey

If you have concerns that a person with whom your child has regular contact may be consuming alcohol to excess and in turn placing your child at risk of harm please contact us for a free appointment to discuss the situation and ways to protect your child. We offer a free, no obligation, callback for all clients and we would be happy to talk through any concerns that you may have.

For further information, please call us at our Fleet Office on 01252 622422 or our Guildford Office on 01483 320114. Alternatively, you can submit your details and we'll arrange a free, no obligation callback at a time to suit you.